Friday, July 15, 2011

Almost Gone

On our last day of class, we continued our discussion of current president Barack Obama but also discussed library systems and reflected on our research papers. A 20 page paper is no small feat, Doc Z assured us. She also encouraged us to let her know which college or university we eventually matriculate to. Then, in the afternoon session we watched a fascinating movie called ‘Wag the Dog.’

Will, Milani and I with our Presidential Powers Teaching Assistant, Pavel.
Will, Milani and I with our professor, Doctor Zebrowski.

A nice trick I learned today was “rushing” Broadway (or off Broadway) shows by going to the ticket counter in either Chelsea Piers or Times Square and getting discounted ticket prices (usually 50% off) for shows that evening or the following morning (matinee).

This is the ticket stand we went to today:

Milani, Will, Eric, Mrs. Lilhanand and I bought tickets to see the Broadway musical Billy Elliot.

Billy Elliot is absolutely, positively amazing. The quality of the performers, especially the kids, and the set made it obvious why the show has won 10 Tony awards. The play, despite me having watched the movie many years ago, made me laugh and, during certain scenes, cry. It is such a powerful story and it was a great end to our stay in New York City.

I have now seen two Broadway shows: Billy Elliot and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Both shows were fantastic and I cannot wait to see more on my next trip to New York City.

Looking back on all the events and activities of this trip, I realized there is still so much that I didn’t do during my time in New York. The city is just so big and so exciting that 3 weeks is not nearly enough time to attend all that I would like to see. But, I definitely plan on coming back.

Going Out With A Big Bang

The time has come for our amazing adventure to end, and for us to return home. It may sound gengeric, but it's true. Today was bittersweet because I'm going to miss all the new friends I've made, the class, New York City, Columbia, and being independent. At the same time, I'm looking forward to being back in the Bay Area and sleeping in my own bed. This was truly an marvelous three weeks and I would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible and fun. First off, I would like to thank the administrators: Don, Mr. Ramsey, and Mrs. Kronenberg for volunteering to organize this program -- and doing a marvelous job. Next, I would like to thank all of the sponsors who through their generous donations send the best and brightest students from our district to tackle a new environment and learn bundles of information in amazing classes. What would happen to our cohort if we didn't have Mrs. L.? The answer is that we'd be totally clueless about what to do, where to go, and how to get around the city. For that, each and every member of our cohort is grateful that you were are chaperon. And finally, I would like to thank the members of the Columbia cohort, Beilul, Milani, Irene, and Will for making this trip fun, hanging out with me, and for going on our own excursions together. you guys rock!

Now, to why I my last day in New York was a bang. First off, yesterday afternoon Kate, my afternoon professor, handed back our papers and I received an A- on my first college level paper. This good news only prompted me to work even harder on my preparation for my debate. Overall I think our debate went well. The opposition refereced one case in particular several times, Gratz v. Bollinger. The case is very similar to the case we were debating because of the following:
1) It involved a white male claiming that the University of Michigan violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment
2) The university also used a 150 point scale to determine how good an applicant is.
3) The university also awarded points if one was a minority race.

Gratz wasn't admitted while so called equal or less qualified applicants were accepted. The key issue was whether the fact that Univerity of Michigan gave an automatic 20 points to minorities for their application was a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gratz. When the opposition brought up this case and why the judges (our professors) should vote against my team because the cases were almost exactly the same. In my closing statement I argued that the cases are similar, but there is one key difference. The University of Michigan awarded 20 points out of 150 points for race -- a very significant amount. In our case, the University of New York only awarded 3 out of 150 possible points to Lopez because of his race. The three points count for a mere 2% of the whole application -- a negligible amount. My team won by a vote of 2-1 and the judges explained that the key difference between the two cases was the fact that UNY only awarded three points for race. So, I was flying high and just relaxed for the rest of class and enjoyed the other two debates. In my opinion, class ended with a bang.

Since I haven't seen a Broadway show yet, I proposed earlier in the week that after class on Friday that our cohort rush a Broadway show. What rush means is that we go to a tickets office either at Seaport or at Times Square and wait in line for tickets to a Broadway show that are up to 50% off. After class, our cohort minus Irene, who wanted to go to the dance, hopped on the subway with Mrs. L. and headed to the less crowded Seaport box office. When we arrived we decided on Billy Elliot because of the amazing review Irene gave it and the fact that it won 10 Tony Awards. There was virtually no line, a stark comparison to Time Square's long line, and we were in an out.

Let's just say that the show was absolutely fantastic and amazing. The story is about a child, Billy Elliot, who's entire community works for a mining company. The company goes on strike and the relationship between union and government isn't thriving. During this time, Billy decides he wants to become a ballet dancer...something his brother and dad scorn him for. The young boy continues to follow his passion and be himself. This leads to Billy getting an audition for the Royal Ballet School, only to be forbidden to go by his father and brother. However, as the strike goes on for a year, Billy's father has a change of heart when he realizes that the strike is hopeless and that Billy has a chance to go big and leave this community. Together, the community raises enough money to send Billy to London for his audition, and is admitted to the school. The ending is bittersweet in that Billy will probably never come back home and see his family because they don't want him to be brought down by this hopeless community, but he now has the opportunity to become a star, and truly do what he loves. I loved the show, and I think I can say that I'm leaving New York with a big bang!

Tightening the Loose Ends

It's not all that gloomy today. Sure, it's definitely a change to leave New York City and Columbia University. But, I'm excited to come home.

I've gotten a lot done today.

I turned in my paper.

I finished my course and said my goodbyes.

I got one more glimpse at New York with a final Broadway show and Times Square visit.

I did my laundry and packed my bags.

And, I am able to say that I am grateful for having gone through this entire experience.

I'm far from unsatisfied with my time here, and I look forward to carrying such productivity and knowledge back to the West Coast--to California. I look forward to seeing my friends. I look forward to fulfilling some of my other summer commitments, and I look forward to starting some new summer projects. I look forward to relaxing in my own bedroom. And, I look forward to the upcoming school year which, in reality, is not too far from today.

I've had a blast, but there's only some much of an explosion one can handle. I'm ready to reload the cannon, so-to-speak.

Goodnight, Blogspot, and goodnight, New York.

Closing Night

I'm pretty sure in most shows, once their period of shows ends they have a closing night. I'm no expert. But, that's what today was. The closing night of an amazing show called the 2011 ILC at Columbia University.

It was bittersweet departing from our class. I felt like I had just gotten comfortable and now I'm gone. I was happy to be done with class, done with the readings, done with my paper. However, I wasn't done with the learning experience I got there. I hadn't learned everything I possibly could have from my professor and TA, but I know that I did make the best of it. I feel like the best party of the whole class experience was the motivation and the caring that was given to us by Dr. Z. and Pavel our TA. They were interested so much in each of us as individuals. I was not expecting that and it was hard to say goodbye.

We ended our night by going with Mrs. L. to our last Broadway show. We went to Seaport and rushed our tickets (getting them for discount, but not guaranteed good seats) which I learned from going to see Phantom of the Opera was way more convenient than standing in Times Square for hours for tickets. We saw Billy Elliot and got pretty good middle mezzanine seats. The musical was fantastic! I wanted to get up and start dancing during some of the musical numbers. Now I know why it won 10 Tony awards... It's true; no one can put on a show like NYC!

I packed most of my things last night in fear of pulling an all nighter. It's hard to accept that these three weeks have come and passed, and now it's time to move on and say goodbye. I feel like yesterday I was unpacking all of my things and looking around my dorm saying "how am I supposed to live here for 3 whole weeks???" Well, this chapter is almost at a close, but it has created so many chapters I can chose from. So this is definitely not the end, but only the beginning...

See you tomorrow San Francisco!

As the Sun Rises

And just as you all thought I had forgotten to post a blog, I did too!

But, I remembered, and that is what is important.

Perhaps, what is more important is why I had forgotten: my research paper. Essentially, it has been finished for a while today, but "finished" is a very loosely defined term when it comes to high school and college comparisons. "Finished" is logistically there, but not conceptually, maybe. "Finished" is that extra moment of touch-up spent on the smallest portion of the paper, perhaps. And, I still cannot claim that I have "finished" my paper to my own standard (which is never a static object; I always move the goal post on myself).

But, I do not have to be "finished" to be satisfied. I believe my paper came out as best it could given the context, and I will not lose sleep thinking I haven't done enough of the work, or I haven't put in enough time. On the contrary, I've put in more than most!

My paper is 30 pages and over 100 footnotes long, and with requirements of 20 pages and 15+ footnotes, the end-result is slightly exaggerated, I find.

But it is a reflection of my academic character, for better or for worse. I definitely feel as though I could have done a much better job (and a much shorter job), but I think any serious student—and certainly any I.L.C. student—always keeps in mind the self-defeating theory of "not good enough." And, that serves as both a benefit and detriment.

Either way, the assignment is complete. I am satisfied. I am exhausted. I am excited. And, I am relieved.

Early mornings—I love them.

How to Succeed.... in College

College was a reoccurring theme today.

Our guest speaker, Chris Riano, is one of the most entertaining speakers I have ever come across with an extremely unorthodox life. He began as an engineering student at Carnegie Mellon but quit after 2 years. He then moved to New York City and became a high fashion model before transferring to Columbia University where he was elected as a Student Senator and then Chairman of the Senate (or something to that extent). He went on to attend the Washington and Lee University Law School and currently, Riano is beginning his own higher education consulting firm with offices in New York City and Washington D.C. After telling us about his life experiences, Riano asked us all to explain our research topics. Then, he moved on to a discussion about our college thoughts, asking us where we wanted to attend.

Incidentally, the mid-day activity today was a college fair. It was absolutely packed and there were plenty of great colleges in attendance and I picked up a lot of great brochures.
In the evening, Irene and I attended the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It was absolutely, positively brilliant. I have previously only watched one professional theater production Wicked in San Francisco so this is my first official Broadway musical.
John Larroquette
It is also important to note that the show stars Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame. As a huge Harry Potter fan, I opted to attempt to get an autograph from Daniel, but I was one row too far from the fence to reach out to him for an autograph and too short to see him at all. But I did get an autograph from John Larroquette.