Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Summer@Brown

This summer trip was an absolutely terrific adventure. Through the course on Women and Leadership, I was able to take at Brown, I learned a lot about leadership and ways to improve in it. I also learned about the obstacles that we as women face in our lives and about those women out there who are trying to set an example for all girls out there when it comes to following the gender norms set by society.

Furthermore, I was able to meet some really amazing and inspiring people while I stayed at Brown. My class was so diverse not just ethnically, but in opinions and perspectives as well. Discussions were so interesting and eye opening because of the diverse point of views that were brought forward. Both Kisa and My attested to having been able to see how each and every single one of us changed over the two week course.

The entire trip is memorable, but the moments that were the most impressive for me were the Amazing Woman Project, Action Plan, College Tours, and guest speakers.

My Amazing Woman Project on Dolores Huerta allowed me to learn more about a woman, who through her actions, has shown great valor, cunning, and tenacity. However, even through all that she has done for farm workers and the rights of others, she still remains in great part unknown and unrecognized for her achievements. It was really interesting and new to me to do a monologue in front of others -- specially representing Dolores Huerta. Kisa, my instructor, even mentioned that it might be a good idea to email or get in contact with Dolores Huerta through some other method. I have thought about it and maybe I will do this later on.

My Action Plan really made me think about all the issues and necessities of my community. I really thought about a wide variety of things I could address, keeping in mind what is feasible for me and what isn’t. I feel that the idea of coming up with an action plan is not a bad idea it really encourages students to think and act towards a good cause. When I did present my plan I also got the chance to hear the plans of some of my fellow peers. Their plans varied from health, the environment, awareness, to poverty. The few parents that were in there to witness our presentations really paid attention and gave their comments. Some even asked questions to clarify points in our plans. It was fantastic and really concluded the summer program for me. Most significantly, it showed what we had learned in the two weeks we spent at Brown.

The college tours and my time at Brown University allowed me to become more aware of the aspects and characteristics of college campuses that I like and don’t like. Connecticut College (CC), Boston College (BC), Wellesley College, Harvard University, and Brown University were all very impressive, different, but in some things similar. Each of these institutions in the East Coast offer a great education, without any doubt, but obviously different college experiences. Thanks to the time I spent on each campus I learned a bit of what each institution offers.

CC, in New London, Connecticut is strong in the humanities and has really good study abroad programs. In addition, students there are able to schedule their finals and take them without any proctors.

BC, affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, has two campuses and offers students a wide diversity of academics and sports. The main campus’ architecture is quiet Gothic. BC’s curriculum requires students to take courses in science, math, history, literature, writing, philosophy, art, social science, etc. The curriculum makes students take classes that maybe otherwise they would not have taken. At times these classes can change students’ goals and make them realize new things about themselves.

Wellesley College, is an all women college located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Its campus is around 500 acres and includes Lake Waban. Apparently, some of its most popular majors are English, psychology, biological sciences, political science, etc. Wellesley requires its students to take a certain amount of units from a wide variety of fields. For example, students must take three units in language, art, and literature. Like CC students are able to take their finals without a proctor and because of the honor code there exists much trust among students.

Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is like a city with a constant stream of people going to and from campus. Here most of the campus life occurs in the main yard. Though Harvard offers a wide variety of majors’ students also have the option to create their own major. In addition, Harvard offers cross-registration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Harvard requires its students to take eight courses from six different fields.

Brown University located in Providence, Rhode Island is a liberal arts college where students are encouraged to explore their creativity and curiosity in all fields. Brown has multiple grassy lawns around its 140 acres. Students take four courses every term so that by graduation they have completed thirty two courses. Brown students as those of Harvard have the choice of creating their own major if Brown does not already offer it. Brown’s study abroad programs allow students to spend some time in one of fifteen different countries.

Moreover, I really enjoyed each of the guest speakers that I had in class. They each came and shared their experiences and perspectives with us. Each of their contributions made the class even more interesting and entertaining. What I liked most was that they were all outgoing and outspoken women. Many of whom are professionals in their fields and others community activists.

Now that Summer@Brown is over I am back home and soon enough school will start! Next year, my senior year should be fun and challenging, but also a chance to show my fellow peers some of the things I learned in the past two weeks.

Thank you, to all those who allowed me to engage in such a challenging and life changing experience. Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Ms. Stewart, Don, Mr. Vilar, Ms. Champion, Mr. Medrano, and everyone else who encouraged me to do this, who believed in me, and who provided me with the necessary things for this trip, thank you!

Ms. Stewart I specially thank you for the care and responsibility you showed me and my fellow Brownies. Without you we might not have made it and survived all those stairs. Thanks a lot for being down to earth and real with all of us. Have fun this upcoming school year!

Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Don please continue this program and allow others in our district the chance to take part in programs such as the Women and Leadership one I participated in. Let our district see the rise of more and more leaders, because youth are the future not just of the world but of our community as a whole. Continue doing the excellent jobs you do because without you my trip would not have been as it was.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Coming Together for Change - My Final Reflection

What's unique about the Women and Leadership course at Brown is that they don't only teach leadership skills for young women, but also social responsibility and a truly open mind. An open mind doesn't just mean being respectful of ideas other than your own, but honestly trying to see things from a different perspective. It means treating others as you would like to be treated in every way, even though initially they may seem so different from yourself. That's what I learned firsthand inside and outside the classroom at Brown.

I wasn't so concerned about being on the East Coast, because I've been there before to visit family. What really hit me was meeting people who were truly from all around the world. We each had different ideas because we were individuals, but more often than not, we were essentially the same in one respect: we all were at Brown because we wanted to change the world for the better, starting with ourselves.

My self-confidence has increased exponentially throughout the course of the program. I think that self-confidence is the make-it-or-break-it factor in leaders and in anybody who wants to be successful in life. It also means being comfortable with yourself - with your heritage, your skills, your interests, and your ambitions. No matter what the external obstacles may be, self-confidence always has to be there so that you can move past them.

The final project in the Women and Leadership course was my Action Plan to implement interactive peer presentations in classrooms to combat homophobia. By moving this plan forward, I will not only improve my school and community, but put into practice my improved leadership skills. I've seen how it's possible for an incredibly diverse group to come together and support each other through difficult times. I always thought that "coming together" was a cliche that didn't actually happen in real life, but I was proven wrong. I want to bring this feeling back to my community so that everyone can learn just like I did.

Looking toward my own future, I'm very excited about getting placed with a mentor who is an alumnus of Brown University. Everyone who I've talked to who has gone to Brown is a very accomplished yet humble person who is focused on helping. I know that I can learn a lot from an older and more experienced person who comes from that kind of background, and I'm looking forward to it.

I want to help in my own way. Hopefully, I can continue to get guidance from the Brown Leadership Institute through the Symposium for Social Action. Students from summer@Brown will share how they have progressed on their Action Plans during the weekend of November 5-7. I know that the ILC can help me attend, and I'll do my best on my end by helping my community in the ways I've outlined above.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me get to this point. No matter how small the contribution may be, I am incredibly grateful to you all for this amazing experience.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Reflection

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” -Peter F. Drucker

It find it difficult to fit all that I've felt, learned, seen, heard, and changed into one blog. However, I will do my best to make sure anyone reading my blog will comprehend all that happened to me during my stay at Brown University.

All I've learned since the first day I stepped onto campus and the last day I glanced back at Brown has formed a new character inside of me. Everything: the class, the people, the activities, are all part of my experience on the East Coast. There was no single moment or single person that defined my time and growth at Brown University; they all are interlaced within each other in an intricate manner. It was all the laughs we shared; it was all the mornings at the Ratty; it was all the times we found something new to learn in class; it was everything.

From the first moment I stepped into class and heard Kisa Takesue utter, "Well, good morning! How are you young ladies doing today?", I would be in a completely different setting for learning. Her enthusiasm and humor made the class fun and intriguing every single morning and afternoon (her laugh always made my day). The high level of intellect in the class made it that much more interesting to participate in. I would always wake up with a smile on my face, looking forward to go to head off to the Watson Institute, where our course would take place and I would have another day of learning about the amazing women leaders in our world. Each day would balance learning of women roles in the world as well as the leadership skills deemed necessary to have.

One of the first things we noticed in class (though we knew we would face this because of the course's title) was the lack of boys in our class. The majority of us have an equal number of boys and girls in our classes back home (only one girl in our class goes to an all-girls school) and so we found it rather awkward and a bit unfair to be surrounded by only girls. Only after the first day did we no longer notice this different set-up. Initially, I thought this setting would reinforce the idea that women and men must be separated to learn. However, it was only after a couple of classes and evening activities did I realize this structure of learning does not segregate genders, it empowers women to become leaders without the supremacy of males often felt at times. I don't mean to say men would have ruined learning in class because of their "machismo", I mean to say that the material we learned in class would not have been as relevant to them as it is to us. The lack of boys led us to build a stronger bond with each other and a better understanding of our similar struggles. Though I don't mean to be cliché, the class was all about women power.

In the first days of class, I kept asking myself: "Am I truly a leader? Can I mobilize a group of people towards a common cause? Can I act the way a leader is suppose to act?". These were the questions that kept popping into my head whenever someone mentioned we were leaders; and yet these were the questions I could I answer without hesitation after a week. It took me some time to first realize what kind of person and leader I was, then I realized afterward what my passions and strengths were.

I am a leader. I am not ideal definition of a leader (because no one is), but there is no definite way one can lead. The only way one can lead is to use one's own strengths instead of focusing on the weaknesses. I learned that pursing my passions will lead me to become a better leader rather than spreading myself thin with other interests. Who wants to look up to someone who is not passionate about their own work? Passion is key to any accomplishment. This is the best way to motivate people together.

I enjoyed that our class was based more on discussions and analytical thinking rather than lectures and tests about women's history in the world. I can't tell you how many debriefs and circles we shared in class and even after the clock struck 3:30; our class found themselves chatting in circles after-hours and we found this the best way to talk with each other since it gave everyone an equal presence in the group. The class allowed us to think for ourselves and, agreeing with Irene as she said in one of her blogs, we were not taught by what a textbook said. It was okay for us to each have our own opinions; however, we were presented with other perspectives as well. It was up to us to learn to be empathetic towards others.

One of the highlights of the Summer@Brown were the people and the students we met from all over the world. Of course, there were some people that were not as enthusiastic being there, but they don't matter. The friends I made were amazing and each one had a special talent. There was a champion jump-roper, a chef, a lifeguard and a swimming instructor among other things. Lina, from Massachusetts, and I shared a passion for immigrant justice. Though we both on the opposites of the United States, it goes to show that distance has no role in social justice. We often talked about the DREAM Act, something we feel needs to be passed. We each are doing this type of work through similar organizations at school. This was one of the many bonds I had during my stay.

I do agree that my experience was indeed life-changing. However, I think in order for my summer at Brown to become an integral part of my leadership style and thought-process, I must constantly reflect back on what I learned and utilize the skills I gained in class. There have been many times where I've attend a class or workshop specialized to teach a life-long skill and yet they do not find a good way to maintain the sustainability of the skills obtained. Women and Leadership, though, practically places these skills in our hands and shows us where to go. What a better way to hone our skills than through an Action Plan?

My Action Plan consists of holding workshops focused on college-readiness geared toward underclassmen in my school. Coming from experience, there were few workshops held about college when I was a freshman and it made my sophomore year confusing when it came to prepping for tests, financial aid, and classes. Though there are workshops held at school, I do not think they are I want to reach every student in the school and hopefully, be able to increase the percentage of students graduating and attending college with the collaborative work of other college-prep programs. I hope to do so with the newly acquired skills I learned.

My task now is to contribute to my community on what I learned on the east coast. I will continue to pursue my passions; I will continue to be an active and concerned member at my school; I will continue to lead others; I will continue to do the best that I possibly can.

Reflection on the Summer I Will Never Forget!

The summer@Brown program has changed my life forever. When I first arrived at Brown University I was a little bit shy. However, after the first day in class I felt comfortable and started to be myself. I learned that I have to come out of my comfort zone more often so I can experience new things.

I learned so much in and out of class. In class I learned how to become a better leader. I will take everything I learned this summer and apply it to myself so I can make a change in my community. I did my best to represent the WCCUSD and my high school. I gave my best in all my work.

During class I always had an amazing time. We would always do fun and educational activities. These activities were intended to help us get to know each other and ourselves better. They greatly helped me. I was able to be more amiable with all the young women in my class and I got to know what type of leader each person was. I also realized that I am more of the helper and the one who cares for everyone when I'm in a group. It was great to finally find out exactly what type of leader I am and what I need to work on. It definitely opened my eyes and made me look at myself even more.

I tried my best to grab as much information as possible during class. This summer I also learned that I am more of the attentive listener. I loved learning new things! The class was always engaging. Even when I was feeling a little tired from lack of sleep at times, the class always kept me alert and entertained. I learned something new every single day I was at Brown.

Our afternoon activities were always beneficial. This is where I got to know the other girls and myself better. The activities required a lot of trust. Before I went to Brown I was a little afraid to trust others right away. As a child I was taught to be cautious. However, I was able to completely trust everyone there. We all were true leaders who had problems, but that has never held us back. I felt honored to be part of this program.

I also became more comfortable with myself. I never considered myself to be in the best shape to do sports or other activities, but the day at the Ropes Course made me think otherwise. I was able to do every single activity and I had support from my peers too. It felt good to know that everyone wanted me to do well. It encouraged me to continue going on. This is what true teamwork is. I learned that I need to be more open. I always thought that I was an open minded young woman, but I realized that I still can be more open everyday. This has made me see things from a whole new perspective.

I will take others opinions into consideration more often. I learned that it might make someone feel uncomfortable to do certain things and that I have to make sure that they are okay with it first. In the Ropes Course I learned that instead of asking if they are okay I should ask "What can I do to make you feel more comfortable doing this?" I learned that I need to rephrase my words so I can get a better response from someone.

Being with a group of great and intelligent young women really motivated me to do much more. I need to challenge myself in order to get better results. I plan on challenging myself daily. My goal is to try new things so I can help my family, my community, and myself. Everything I learned I will apply it in my community. I will continue helping my family and friends.

My Action Plan is to increase awareness of the different kinds of colleges that there are. Before I was aware of the ILC, my main goal was to apply to a UC. Now that I was given the wonderful opportunity to go to the East Coast and visit different colleges, my mentality has changed. I plan on applying to Brown University and I definitely will look more into other smaller colleges. I never thought that I would like Wellesley College as much as I did. I thank everyone who made this trip possible because it was a true eye opener.

Since I was lucky to be sent to the East Coast and to attend Brown Univerity for two weeks, I want to get other students aware of the different possibilities. I want to encourage my peers at Richmond High School to think of smaller and private colleges too and not just focus on the UC system. I'm not saying that UCs are bad because they aren't, but there is much more than just that. I was able to see that this summer at Brown.

Overall, my trip to the East Coast was beyond amazing. I learned so many new things. I am more confident than ever before and I plan on making a change. I want to thank everyone for giving me the opportunity to go to the East Coast and have a great new learning adventure. I am filled with gratitude therefore I will do my best to give back to my community.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Last of a Lot of Things

Unfortunately, due to lack of Internet last night, and an incredibly busy day today, it’s taken me too long to get this final (for now) blog entry posted.

Yesterday was my last day at Brown. It was my last for a lot of things:

Last time I would get chocolate croissants and peach ice tea with Erica before class.
Last time I would wake up, shower, and get ready in Harkness.
Last time I would go to class and be taught by Kisa, with the lovely My as the TA.
And most notably, the last time I’d see all my girls together.

These last two weeks were two of the most amazing weeks of my life. I met so many new people, learned so many new things, and had experiences that would last me a lifetime.

I’ve already got ironclad promises that should I visit India, Italy, or North Carolina that I would have a place to say, and the same goes for my girls if they ever come to California.

I didn’t cry yesterday, thank god, because I know if I saw even one person shed one single tear, I’d be inconsolable.

Despite my opinions on feminism, and the material we studied in the class, I do believe it really helped me grow as a person, especially in my ability to let other people voice their opinions, and to not be so defensive when I am criticized.

I also formally presented my Action Plan yesterday, which was not nearly as nerve wracking as I thought it would be. There were only about fifteen people in the room with me, and we were so cramped that we all ended up presenting sitting down, which really helped us all feel more comfortable.

It went well, and I made sure to videotape it so that my parents back home would be able to see it, too.

And even though I’m home now, and the feeling is bittersweet, I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

My deepest thanks to everyone in the ILC program, because without all of you, this wouldn’t be possible, and I am so glad I did it.

Memorable and Life Changing Summer!

Sadly, yesterday was the last day at Brown University. I simply cannot believe that the program is over for us. It feels like if I was only at Brown for 3 days. There is still so much left to do. I wish I could have stayed longer. I fell in love with the campus and everyone there. The staff members were amazing. I will never forget this summer and everyone who shared this experience with me.

Over these past two short weeks I have learned so much. I have learned how to become a better leader in my community. This class has really inspired me to challenge myself. I have grown as a woman and as a leader. I am more confident than ever before. My main goal is to be more outspoken and assertive.
During class we wrote a letter to ourselves. Kisa will send this letter to us within the next 6 months. After we were done writing our letter, we all sat in a circle and passed around a piece of paper with our name on the top. Then people wrote down something that they admired about us or wanted to tell us. It was a really nice activity, but it made me sad that we were all going to leave. At that moment it started to sink in that perhaps we will never see each other ever again. However, I am glad that I got everyone's contact so we can all stay in touch.

Then we all went to lunch in the Ratty for the last time. There we studied for our Action Plan presentation. When it was my turn to present I felt really comfortable. I knew my subject very well that I rarely looked down at my flashcards. There were about 8 people in the room I was in. The Women and Leadership class really made me feel less nervous about public talking.

Furthermore, I became really close with everyone in the Women and Leadership class. I ended up making great friends that share the same passion to make a change in their community and ultimately in the world. It was really hard to say goodbye to everyone. I felt like I really needed to have more time to spend with everyone here. I got so attached to everything and everyone.
Kisa and My really encouraged me to continue following my passions. They were really supportive and always motivated me to come out of my comfort zone. Even when I came out my comfort zone, everyone made me feel so comfortable. This summer has been the best learning experience I have ever had. Before I came to Brown University I knew it was going to be awesome, but it has really blown me away. It has by far exceeded all my expectations. I definitely plan on applying to Brown University.

All the staff members were amazing. My RA Christine was wonderful. She was so friendly! Everyone was so amiable and encouraging. I feel like I am part of a big family here at Brown University. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. It was 5:45 PM and it was time to leave. I was so sad to leave my friends.

We came to Boston in where we stayed at a Hilton hotel near the airport. We all met down in the lobby to go to a restaurant in the hotel to eat our last dinner together in the East Coast. It was awesome. I had a great time, but then Mariana and I decided to go to the room to get some rest.

Today we left the hotel at 9 AM. Some of the girls were a little worried that someone would end up having an overweight bag, but thankfully none of us did. Since I have seen a Dunkin Donuts everywhere I could not leave without buying something from there. I bought a bagel and hot chocolate and then we all boarded the plane. I sat with Irene and Mariana.

We arrived at San Francisco on time. I was happy to be back home, but I was also sad that I had left the East Coast. I will never forget my experience there. I loved it. Hopefully, I am able to return to the reunion in November. That would be amazing!

Overall, I would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible. I had the best time! I had so much fun, met new people, and learned so many new things.

Brown is not Dull -- Brown is Beautiful.

I woke up with a heavy heart. Today was our last day at Brown University. Everyone in the class was special to me in a unique way. I would miss Kisa, My (our leadership fellow) and every single one of the young ladies that I bonded with. The growth I achieved from being in this leadership class is more than I have gained in my entire life thus far. So with a sorrow for leaving Brown but a joy for learning so much, I left for class.

My roommate, Kristi! 

My awesome friend, Tierra and I! 

From Durham, North Carolina, Erica! 

The more, the merrier! 

We did not do any workshops or lectures today. Instead, we were told to write a letter to ourselves that would be sent to our homes near December. The purpose was to remind ourselves of what we learned during the summer course and to apply to our daily lives; we didn’t want this to be something we would forget. So I wrote to myself and hopefully by the time I get the letter, I will not have forgotten the priceless things I learned about women and leadership. As I’ve said time and time again, Summer@Brown was a life-changing experience. 


My, Kisa and Selene

Class Picture! 

We continued on with writing positive comments about each person in our class. Every person in the course was special to me in some way or another. I made it a goal to write something different for each person that related their presence to me. There is so much I learned from the other girls. Their cultures, their histories, their backgrounds, all contributed to my understanding of diversity. I underestimated what diversity is and now I know that it does not only mean a difference in race and socioeconomic status, but also a difference in childhood, beliefs, and ethics among other things. 

Looking back at what I've learned in class, I realized many things. Real learning does not take place as memorizing facts, dates and books; learning is taken from life experience. We learned about life from a woman's point of view, not that it cannot only apply to women, but to everyone. Learning is taking a bit from every part of the world and implementing that into our daily lives. We've had that very concept integrated into our course this summer. As I will use in my presentation today, "Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself." This quote, by the American philosopher John Dewey, inspired me to think about what education genuinely is. It describes our experience at Brown perfectly and I know that I finally found some closure to our class on the East Coast. 
Discussing in class

My proud friend hailing from Chicago, Trina. She was an inspiration to me.

The leadership fellow from our class, My (as in Me but spelled differently) and Kristi. We were being silly

My was such a great person! We all bonded with her

Just thought I'd like for everyone to know what snacking at Brown while studying for two weeks ends up being... 

We concluded the last class and headed for lunch. I spent my lunch working on my Action Plan to polish it off. I was a bit nervous about my presentation, but I knew that if it didn’t go as well as I wanted, I would only learn from it. Life is about making mistakes, and if I mess up, it’s okay. I have plenty of time to learn. I kept in mind that my confidence and public speaking skills have improved considerably since day one and I would be fine. With those thoughts in mind, I left for our presentations. 

Dean Rose welcomed everyone to the Leadership presentations. I loved how she integrated all we’ve learned into her speech -- she was very inspiring. We finally split into groups and I was to be presenting to Dean Rose herself. As usual, I was a bit jittery before I presented but I managed to get through it. It was now or never. 
Dean Rose introducing the Action Plan Presentations

All in all, it went well and I was very pleased that Dean Rose told me I did an awesome job and I articulated myself very well. She said I did better than most, but being very hard on myself, I found this comment surprising but joyful and I appreciated it very much. When it comes to presenting, the saying, “practice makes perfect” comes to mind. With experience, it becomes less and less difficult to talk in front of a large audience. I will make sure to push myself when I present so I can become a better leader for all. 

Afterward, we met on the Main Green on campus and took final pictures with our new friends and professors. Although the weather was raining on our parade (literally, except for the parade part since there was no parade obviously), it did not stop us from our good-byes and departures. It was sad to see some friends leaving already; I felt like we each had a special bond with each other. We’ve grown not individually, but together, interlaced with our experiences, passions, mistakes, doubts and most importantly, our hearts. We’ve each taken to each other in a special way. 

Dean Rose, Irene and I 


Kisa and I 

- - - - -

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." -Anais Nin

In the last few hours, we spent the rest of the time we had just hanging around with our friends. I already packed the night before so I made sure to spend those last few moments with our friends. We made one last run to Thayer Street to buy any things we needed or just wanted. One by one, friends started to leave until there was only a few of us left. Finally, it was time for us to leave and I was so sad to leave everything: my friends, the dorms, my roommate and even the weather (Although I kept complaining about the humidity, I have to say, I am going to miss warm nights in Providence). I looked back at the campus and said my final good-bye. For now. 

At the train station, leaving

We spent the night in Boston and had one final dinner together as the Ivy League Connections Brown Session II group. Ms. Stewart very generously treated us for dinner that night and I was so grateful. I looked around the table with all of our ILC members and although I was happy, inside I was sad that our time in the East Coast was almost up. Tomorrow morning, we would fly back to San Francisco. Back to home. So I made sure to make the most of our last night in Boston. I know I did, so I’m glad about that. 

Our room at the Hilton 

The view from the hotel window on the ninth floor

And so, I finish this blog with a spirit of joy. I am happy to have been in this program. I am happy to have learned so much. I happy to have met so many amazing people. 

I am happy.

Good-bye, East Coast!

I Surprised Myself

When I first came into this program, I thought that I was really open-minded. However, I slowly realized that the Women and Leadership program at Brown would challenge me intellectually and emotionally more than I had thought it would, and make me even more understanding of all kinds of diversity.

I thought I had my mind mostly made up on what feminism was and what leadership was, but we attacked these issues from all possible angles, and Kisa let everyone come to their own conclusions. All the professors, the TAs, the RAs, the Leadership Fellows, the staff, and the students were so approachable. Nobody ever told us, "this is the way it is because I said so," or "this is the way it is because it's written in a textbook." I really love that way of learning. As Mercedes Domenech said, in the end it doesn't matter so much what you're learning as long as you expand your horizons and learn how to see the world in a different light. I was surprised about the program and about myself in the best way possible.

I also realized that I can't be a "supergirl." I can't be perfect and I can't do everything perfectly, but I can certainly try. I will try. If I make a mistake I won't dwell on it, but learn from it. I will concentrate on doing what I love, whether it's skating, playing clarinet, or leading a community organization.
~Kisa gave us bracelets with inspirational words on them. Mine says "lead."~

I teared up so many times on the last day of class. Two weeks seemed much too short. I would be so incredibly happy if I could go back and learn in that environment again. Before this program, I never would have seriously considered applying to Brown, but now I will definitely apply to Brown and other highly selective universities.

I learned that there are still obstacles for women and for many other groups of people in the world, but that the final barrier to success is always one's own self-confidence.

If I believe in myself and others, and believe in our dreams, I'll surprise myself yet again. Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible for me.

The Grand Finale

Today was our last day at both Brown University and Providence, Rhode Island. These two weeks just flew by and now we are well on our way back to Boston to stay overnight so we can leave for California tomorrow, Saturday. It was so sad to say bye to all the new friends and people we met and were able to interact and learn with. I am really going to miss the other twenty two girls enrolled in the Women and Leadership course and plus the other people that I had the chance to meet.

I really felt comfortable in Providence and loved everything I was able to learn in the short time I got to spend here. Reflecting back to my initial worries about being away from home, I see that in the end it was that exact thing that allowed me to experience all that I did. I really had fun even when I had something to do every single day. However, not always were these things for my class, but a few times it was to socialize and get to know people more. You really have to balance academics, socializing, and fun out.

The closer we got to our departure date the less we wanted to hear about having to go our separate ways. By we I mean Bianchi, Diana, Vanessa, and the rest of my lovely friends. It seemed that the days slipped one by one and next thing we knew it was time for us all to go back home. Bianchi and Diana will return on Saturday afternoon to New Orleans and Vanessa went back to Massachusetts with her family, who came to pick her up. We all have to get back to our lives back home. Bianchi and Diana will have to start their junior year in high school at the International High School of New Orleans. Vanessa will be starting her senior year in high school. Even though we all went our distinct ways today, for sure there will always be the bond we formed here at Brown and the terrific adventures we had together.

Through the course work and different activities that were planned for the Leadership Institute these past two weeks were terrific!

We will have to stay at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport Hotel for the night. I wonder about the Internet access there -- hope there is some. Our last night in the East Coast!

Before we actually got to the goodbyes we all had to present our Action Plans'. My Action Plan was actually to create a blog in which one male and one female student can each give their perspective on issues such as the environment, laws, politics, etc. The purpose of this would be that that way through the blog other people, other youth in particular will have a chance to voice their opinion. By voicing their opinion we will help increase self-expression especially in adolescents who face a hard task in transforming from children to adults. Gaining all the responsibility can trouble and at times shut youth out from reality. They can become quiet and shy, unwilling to show the world what they really think. Even though I have this plan I feel like it might change in some of its aspects. I guess all we can do is wait and see.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

“Every End is a New Beginning"

Indeed it is almost time to leave. I am very sad to be leaving Rhode Island and on Saturday, the East Coast. I've been so happy at Brown and I do not want to leave this campus. I can truly picture myself going here for college. But it's time to go back and utilize what we've learned here in our communities.

Action Plans are the most important thing we are focusing on right now. We split into several groups to practice our presentations, focusing on improvements from our fellow peers. It went well, but I realize that I still need to practice a lot more.

Although it may seem like an easy task to talk about the change you want to have in your community, speaking to a crowd it harder than it looks. It's hard to find out what to say when you can't ask your audience directly if they are bored, amused, irritated or content when you're up on the podium. But with the time I've had to practice, I've improved drastically and I can say that it will become easier over time to speak in front of a large audience.

My friend, Tierra, from New Orleans and I!

After the morning practice, we once again got into groups to discuss ethics. When faced with a difficult situation, what choice would you make? What actions and things what you do? Would it be the right or wrong thing? Are you aware of the consequences of our actions? These were some of the questions asked in several hypothetical situations given to us. 

For most of them, I could promptly make my decision while others took me some time to decide what I would do. Would I tell on my best friend that she was smoking on school property when it is illegal to do so? Or would I sympathize with her because she's going through a rough phase in her life? This I was a bit more hesitant about answering, but I finally decided that I would leave her with a warning with a caution that if she were to do it again, I would talk to the principal. Overall, I think I made the right choices. Maybe I couldn't please everyone, but I chose to do what was best for everyone in the situation. 

Leadership is not mean you have to please everyone, but rather it is making a decision and sticking with it until you follow through. It means not being passive, not being aggressive, but being assertive. Consider others before making a final decision but also be decisive about your own ideas as well. 

After lunch, we had a self-defense class which I was really excited about. Michelle was the instructor and she showed several types of moves we can use when we are in a dangerous situation. 

I learned a lot through the program and Michelle mentioned that she has never had to use self-defense in a very dangerous situation. She said that after people take the class, they have a new layer of confidence that can be seen from the outside. Observing her, I could see what she meant and I knew that a guy would not want to mess with her. The empowerment that women obtain through these types of programs are amazing and it encourages them to become women of authority, even in their own survival. 

I've taken a self-defense class for a while at Richmond High School on Fridays through PE. It was only a short-term integrated course and I wish it was longer. However, I will look into self-defense classes once I get back home to take over the year. 

During the evening, we had a final social event, specifically for our house: Harkness House. There was a dance (which I thought would have been nice, but trying to fit 60+ kids in a small, stuffy lounge results in a hot and sweaty room and an unpleasant musty odor.) and a games room in the other lounge. We ended up playing Apples to Apples with several of our Brownie friends. 

It's sad to see everything coming to a close, but the show must go on. I will miss my new friends terribly and hopefully I will see them again one day in the future. My Action Plan is be presented tomorrow and I am both excited and anxious for it. I have prepared myself for this moment. 

On the good side, I am almost done packing! There's no procrastination for me. 

(Pictures will be up tomorrow. The internet is taking so long!) 

Party at Harkness!

Oh god. The second to last day is over. This means that tomorrow may very well be the last day I ever see some of these amazing people again.

It has been an incredible experience, meeting all these people and really growing as a person. I don’t even really want to write about it, just because that means it’s becoming a reality, and I don’t want to accept it!

Tomorrow is the real presentation of our Action Plans, but I think I’m confident enough in my Plan that I can handle the presentation and any questions that are thrown at me.

We had a dance tonight in celebration of our last night in Harkness. I’ll miss this place more than I can possibly imagine, even the lack of air conditioning and the bad food.

Wish me luck!

Entertaining Way of Learning

We started off the class by breaking down into small groups so we could present our Action Plans. I was in a group with Bianchi, Ritika, and Tierra. I was the first to go up and give my presentation. 

After I was done they gave me suggestions on how to improve it. Being able to practice in front of some of my peers was really helpful. I benefited greatly from the advice and I plan on working on it when I'm presenting tomorrow. I'm a little nervous about presenting, but I'm also looking forward to it.

Once we were all done presenting, we met back inside the classroom and finished the activity on Ethics. We were given scenarios in where we had to decide as a group what the person should do. It was really interesting to hear different responses from everyone. There were some that didn't consider some things that bad, while others completely disagreed.

After lunch was over, we had a very fun activity. We were taught some skills on self-defense! It was really great. I learned how to defend myself if I am attacked. However, the instructor told us that there are times when it would be smarter to just give in instead of trying to resist. It would be completely illogical, if we fought someone with a weapon. We would be putting our life in jeopardy.

It was exciting to get to scream, kick, and punch. It was a very fun activity, but with a serious purpose to it. I really liked it. I got really excited when it came to scream "NO!" that my throat hurts me now.

Since I still had my books from the Rockefeller Library, I went with Thara and Guadalupe to return them. We were initially planning on taking them all the way back to the Rockefeller Library, but then Christine my RA told us that we could return them in the Science Library. It was much closer.

Sadly, we only have tomorrow here in Providence so I decided to go to the Book Store and get a Brown t-shirt. I was with Guadalupe, Thara, and Heidi. After we were done buying our shirts, we headed off to CVS so Thara could buy some sandals. Then the clock turned to 5 PM and we all felt hungry. We decided to go eat some Thai food. It was the first time I had ever tried Thai food and it was really good. I liked it.

After we were all full, we returned to out dorms. I practiced my Action Plan presentation and finished my interview assignment. Time went by so fast that before I knew it, it was 7:00. All the girls in the Women and Leadership class had another mandatory meeting.

The activity was really interesting. We all had to close our eyes, while My would read directions on what to do. There would be two people who would touch us if they felt that the statement said applied to us. It was really touching to see how close we all have become.

At 9:30 PM we had some activities in our building. There was a dance going on in one side and games on the other. I ended up playing a game with the girls. It was fun. Plus we ended up getting Ben and Jerry's and pizza. It was a really fun day. It makes me sad to think that it will all soon be over.

Second to Last Day of Class and Self Defense

Today went by very quickly as now I am considering how this whole trip went. It is kind of sad to think that I only have one remaining day here at Brown University for this summer.

Well, today for class we had a pretty interesting day of practicing our Action Plans and dealing with ethical situations and the kinds of decisions we would make in every single one of them. We practiced our Action Plans in small groups, in my group there were only two other people, Lindsey and Cara. It was fun to practice our Action Plans and get some feedback from our group members. 

Afterwards, in the same groups, we went into a discussion of six different situations where our ethics might be compromised. Most situations were basically of things people of our same age group could go through. For most of the situations I had a very clear grasp of what specifically I would have done, but for others I had to really think about it and the effects it would have.

Afterwards, Kisa informed us, just before we were dismissed for lunch, that afterwards we would be participating in a self-defense session. Kisa did not come with us to the session but My did and it was absolutely great. I really learned and it kind of encouraged me, like our instructor said, to seek a place to learn the techniques more in detail and so I could learn to master them. She personally said she has never really had to get so physical with anybody as to have to use the techniques she teaches. 

By the way, she teaches all of this here at Brown in two different kinds of sessions one is a twelve hour one. I liked the fact she was really open to our questions and gladly answered them. She also encouraged us to think up situations so that she could explain ways to get out of it. We practiced our defensive positions, shielding, punching, kicking, screaming, and combinations. We had to practice with her near the end and as always the entire class encouraged everyone.

After class I returned to Harkness to finish the details of my Action Plan and to get ready for the party that Harkness would be holding as a goodbye for everyone leaving. I had fun and it was terrific to spend time with my classmates once more out of class!

Hammer fist

I just came back from the closing floor meeting and about to go to a good-bye dance party with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!

The closing was a game where we would all sit in the chairs formed in a circle with our eyes closed. Two of the girls would tap someone or people in the group that matched the description My read. For an example, she asked the girls to tap someone who you believe in and tap four people who you really respect. This activity really touched me. I did not know some people viewed me in some ways.

Before that, the class had a self-defense course for the afternoon session. I really enjoyed this class because it involved physical activity and yelling. We learned different punches (one which was called the hammer fist) and kicks and how to deal when someone is trying to choke us, pull us away, and has us in a bear hug.

In the morning session I practiced my action plan in front of a small group in class. Their feedback was to slow down.

I cannot believe that tomorrow is my last day at Brown!

I am off to a fun but probably sad good-bye dance party.

Project Belén

Yesterday was Wednesday, and I presented my Amazing Woman monologue.

It was exciting for me, because the person I chose was Tamora Pierce, an author who has been my inspiration since I was in the early years of elementary school.

I know I said a little bit about her the other day, but I’d like to elaborate, considering her huge influence on me.

She grew up in San Francisco, just like me (well, Bay Area) and when she was little, she loved to make up stories to entertain herself. She was drawn to science fiction (like Star Trek) and fantasy (like Lord of the Rings). Her early love of literature and writing mirrors mine, and she knew she wanted to write from a very young age.

I am like her in this respect. I love reading and writing, and fantasy/science fiction is my favorite genre (though my own stories tend to be more realistic fiction).

From the very first book I read by her, Alanna: The First Adventure, when I was in the fourth grade, I knew I wanted to read and write for the rest of my life. In that book, a young girl named Alanna decides she wants to be a knight, instead of being sent to a convent like all other girls her age. Through the series, she accomplishes this, first disguising herself as a boy, then revealing her womanhood, and fighting the discrimination from the men around her.

What a message for a young fourth-grader like myself. Not only was I learning from my parents to be confident in myself, and not to be constrained by trivialities like gender, but I was getting it from the books I loved too.

I can say with certainty and pride that a large part of the woman (and budding novelist) that I am today is die to this woman.

My presentation went flawlessly, and I just hope I imparted a little bit of what I learned from her to my fellow classmates.

Also, in my research for the Action Plan paper I had to turn in today, I found the perfect charity.

It’s called Project Belén, and directly benefits Belén, the area of the Amazon that I visited. I’m not sure if I really talked about my Action Plan yet, so I’ll go in depth now.

When I visited Peru (Belén in particular), I saw a lot of poverty. This was the stark reality of the country I had idealized for seventeen years. But it didn’t diminish my love for Peru in any way. It only made me sad, but that sadness awoke a fire inside me that demanded I help, demanded I do my vest to change the situation of the people there, as they couldn’t do it themselves.

So coming to Brown only a day after my return from Peru was really the best thing that ever could have happened, as we learned about this Action Plan project, where we picked a cause to benefit the world, and act on it.

I knew immediately that I wanted to help the people of Belén, and last night, I found the perfect organization to do so. Project Belén provides healthcare, food, counseling, and more to the poverty stricken residents there, and sends volunteers down to work with the locals and improve their situation.

I’m so excited to go back home, talk to the presidents of the Interact Club at my school, and set up find raising activities to raise money for the charities.

Ethics, Hip-Hop, and Self-Defense

The ethics discussion that we ran out of time for yesterday was moved to today. We were presented with multiple ethical dilemmas and acted out how to deal with them in an effective, assertive way. I definitely think that the solutions were easier said than done.

I practiced presenting my Action Plan to a small group of classmates. They gave me feedback on the content and the delivery. I still need to give my presentation its final revision and copy some bullet points onto index cards.
Mariana and Ritika
I ate lunch extra quickly so that I could go back to class to see a short film about hypermasculinity in hip-hop. Most of the aggression in the lyrics is focused against other people who are suffering, not necessarily the oppressors. There is blatant objectification of women in the music, and it's different from the rest of American culture in that that's the only way that women are portrayed in hip-hop music videos. The worst insult against another man in hiphop is to tell them that they are feminine, yet there is some not-so-subtle homoeroticism in the way rappers often pose. I was getting very interested in it because I had never heard some of these views before, but unfortunately, we didn't get to finish the film. Hopefully we'll be able to finish it tonight at the evening social activity.
Tierra blocks "punches"
We had an interesting self-defense class in which we learned some basic techniques to defend ourselves and buy some time if we were physically threatened. We got some time to practice these techniques and hone our reaction times, too.
Ritika in action
The amazing RA and TA, My
I'm going to eat quickly and then see if I can take a nap before the evening activity. I'm exhausted.
I didn't end up taking a nap, but I did finish two homework assignments and went to dinner. I'm going to revise my Action Plan and practice presenting for tomorrow, then go to the final socializing event - a dance/movie/game night/snack party, which is all one big event. It's exclusive to Leadership Institute students, and since Harkness (our dorm) is the only dorm for Leadership kids, it's taking place in the two lounges downstairs.

Just 15 minutes ago, I was in our last class bonding activity. We played a special game where  everyone closed their eyes except two people. My would say things like, "Touch three people who you respect and admire." We took turns being the people in the middle. I never knew that so many people appreciated me enough to tell me, even though it was anonymously and silently. I feel so much closer to all the girls now. It was just really cool. I can't imagine not keeping in touch with them after I leave.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dolores Huerta Presentation!

Today I got the chance to present my monologue on Dolores Huerta. It was terrific to present. I had a real fun time. Many of my classmates also presented and it was interesting to hear what each woman did.

In class, we also, had a panel of guest speakers who talked to us about their experiences in life and what steps they took to get there. We also got the chance to ask questions. What was interesting to hear was that a main concept the emphasized was that keeping a balance in life is crucial to being able to do what you like. When they spoke about balance they mostly referred to family and work. One of the women actually is a psychologist! The time they spent with us went by really quickly and before we knew it it was over. Nevertheless, their words were special and I greatly appreciate them.

After class I did not do much other than go to the Rockefeller Library. I really like it there are so many books and I love the fact they have so many computers available for usage. The times I have been there I have never seen people waiting to use them, but then again it is the summer. The librarians are really nice and people are most commonly very helpful and willing to lend a hand.

Have to work on my Action Plan!

Action Plan

Today I presented my monologue and wrote my Action Plan paper.

In class successful women came in for a panel and gave us very good advice, such as doing what you love but not spreading yourself out so much. One of the women brought her young daughter of age 5 to class. During the panel I sat next to her. She reminded me of children I had babysat for and my own younger brother. Her little bunny reminded me of my younger sister.

At lunch I meet with Mercedes Domenech. She was very funny and straight to the point.

There was a blood drive, of which I wished I could participate in but I was too young. You had to be 17. Someday I hope to give blood -- if I can take the physical strain of doing so.

Follow Your Passions!

We started off the class with our Group C Amazing Women Presentations. I knew that in the afternoon it was going to be my turn to give my presentation. I was a little nervous, but I decided to not think about it. Instead, I focused on all the wonderful women that were talked about.

Shortly after Group C was finished, we were broken down into groups of four. Kisa gave us a big piece of paper in where we drew a shirt. Inside that shirt, we wrote down qualities that we agreed that a feminist should have. Outside of the shirt we wrote down negative things that people classify feminists as being. For instance, feminists are not "man haters". Since there are many misconceptions about feminists, my group and I decided to call ourselves "womanists" instead. We all want equal opportunities as men, but that does not mean that we hate men. We talked about how we need from one another and that all we need is to work together.

After we were done sharing our thoughts on feminism, we had four guest speakers come in and talk to us. They talked about some of the challenges they had to face when they were younger because they were girls or because of their race. One of the women was Puerto Rican. She talked about how her counselor told her that she was wasting her time applying to Ivy League schools. That did not stop her and when she went back and showed him all the acceptance letters she received he just said that it was because she was a minority. This story really stayed in my mind. The counselor was wrong. It was not just because of her race that she was accepted into an Ivy League school, but because the woman was really smart and determined.

All of the women examples were really encouraging. I felt even more motivated to try my best. I will also follow my passions just like the women did. Now they are all happy with what they do with their lives. They advised us to not go that hard on ourselves. We shouldn't spread ourselves too thin or try to do everything because we should just focus on what we love to do.

Furthermore, we met with Mercedes during lunch. We were able to ask any questions we had. Since I am interested in Business but also like art, Mercedes encouraged me to try to do something with both of my interests. I shouldn't just limit myself to one thing. We talked about the admissions process and about interviews. She said interviews were strongly recommended. I had such a great time with her. However, the clock turned to 1:20 PM and we had to head back to class.

I was the first to present my Amazing Women Presentation from Group D. I was oddly not that nervous. I felt comfortable talking in front of my peers. Everyone was so encouraging. It was fun to give my presentation from Oprah's voice. It made me feel more connected to my amazing woman. After I was done, I got to hear many more great presentations. Then we all tried to refresh our memory by mentioning some important points on each of the women talked about in the presentations.

Then we had some time to talk about Ethics and Leadership. We didn't finish talking about the topic because it was time to go. This shows how fast time goes by in our classroom. We lose track of time because we are so focused on what we are learning. I really like this class.

At 7 PM, we met with Ms. Stewart in the Ratty to talk about our trip back home. It was sad to get reminded that we have only 2 days left. I wish I could stay longer. I have met so many new friends. I am having such a great time here that I don't even want to think that its almost over. Sadly, I know that my days here are limited.

Overall, I had another great day today. Tomorrow we are presenting our Action Plan in class. We'll see how that goes.

A Breakthrough In My Thinking

We finished presenting the Amazing Women monologues today. My presentation went well - I felt like my legs were shaking the whole time, but I asked people later and nobody noticed at all. The other students asked several questions after my monologue about Rigoberta Menchu; I think her story came across as unique and interesting. Dean Rose came in as we were discussing the  Amazing Women as a group and asked what we had learned from their experiences. I volunteered my belief that they all pushed past both external and internal obstacles, and that the internal hurdle of self-confidence is the most important to conquer.

Kisa brought in a panel of professional women, which was very diverse. Their professions ranged from educators to doctors to leaders of community organizing groups. One of the women was rather soft-spoken, and I was almost surprised that someone quiet could be a successful leader. It was great to have role models that everybody in the room could relate to. Another brought her five-year-old daughter in and said that child-rearing was much harder than any career. Even those that did not have children said that it's important to stay connected to people that are important to you, such as mentors, family, and friends in order to keep a balanced life.

Today at 12:15, Lucero, Lupe, Lydia, Selene, and I made our way to the V-Dub. This was because last week, we (the ILC students at Brown) had arranged to have lunch with Mercedes Domenech of the Brown Admissions Department. We had met her 2 times before at ILC events, and she offered to answer any questions about the University or about admissions that we had. We learned more about the interviewing process and how students are selected. What stuck out was how she emphasized taking challenging courses in high school not just because they would look impressive, but because if we got accepted to Brown,  we wouldn't have distribution requirements or any required classes at all (excepting majors). Senior year is our last chance to show how much we love learning.

Mercedes also emphasized how important it is to study what you love even if it might not seem like it leads to a concrete career path. For example, Ruth Simmons, President of Brown University, holds a Ph.D. in French. Who would have projected her position now with her chosen field of study? Mercedes got me to think about how it doesn't matter as much what I choose to study, as long as I am educated in something and I know how to think and analyze. Undergraduate majors that are very specific are actually limiting because people may change their minds even if they initially think they're set on something.

I still have to finish my Action Plan paper and polish my Action Plan presentation, conduct another interview with a fellow student, catch up on my journal assignments for the past week, and meet with Ms. Stewart at 7 about the logistics of our departure. It's sad that we're already talking about leaving. In some ways I miss my family and others who are close to me, but in other ways I fear missing my friends, teachers, and mentors at Brown even more.

"Women Hold Up Half the Sky"

Indeed did Mao Tse-Tung capture the importance of women. There are many amazing women in this world and today we presented few of the numerous women that make a difference in lives everywhere. Five of us did so today: Irene, Lucero, Selene, Mariana and I.

The 3rd round of the presenters presented theirs first thing this morning. Each woman I heard about was individual in passion and personality. We had students that did theirs on: Toni Morrison(author of Beloved), Maya Angelou(poet), Dolores Huerta,(activist) and many more.

Afterward, we had four women come in to form a discussion panel on their professional and home lives. Qualities, achievements and education were some of the topics touched upon. Each women had a different background. One was from Harvard, another went to Brown, one had two kids while still another had none. This range of perspectives and backgrounds allowed us to see how similar (or not similar) their difficulties and/or opportunities were like.

The discussion was very informative for me. I had living proof in front of me that women could both hold a great job and also have a great social/family life as well. Some women chose to have kids and others did not. For me, this was a big topic to talk since each of us is going to have to make that decision when we're older. But one of the ladies spoke about priorities. She said that we would come to realize what each of our priorities would be once we've gained enough experience and wisdom, whether it would be our family, jobs, friends,etc. I marked this side note in my head. Nikki, who graduated from Harvard, discussed the "vision" we all create in our minds of what we want to accomplish. Sometimes, our dreams change, or perhaps it only shifts and you realize that there are infinitely many opportunities and jobs out there that you might want to try, is what she said.

Leaving to the V-Dub

During lunch, Irene, Lucero, Selene and I met with Mercedes Domenech to discuss any questions we had about Brown. She was very humorous and down-to-earth once again when we spoke to her. I found out more about the PLME (Program in Liberal Medical Education) which, although seems nice, I do not see myself applying for it.

Considering the PLME, I am not entirely certain I want to enter the medical field. I love medicine, however, I would also like the opportunity to explore other options as well. Politics is my other passion, and I find hard to choose between the two. However, I was told by someone that there are many politicians that have an MD among other degrees and balance the two. I find it won't impossible to combine both.

We also discussed other admissions doubts. I felt like I learned a lot during the lunch and every day, I picture myself at Brown more and more. It is the perfect learning environment for me. I am a very curious person and the type of education offered here would give me the opportunity to explore other subjects: engineering, art, anthropology, Egyptology and so much more. The financial aid package is generous, which is also a plus for me. Come December, I will submit my application to Brown university.

Meeting with Mercedes, the admissions officer.

After lunch, it was time for my presentation and Lucero's as well. Lucero went first and I think she did an awesome job! Then, I was right after her. I practiced a lot the night before and it paid off. I stumbled a bit at times but overall, it was fine. The public speaking workshop we had earlier in the week helped me a lot with this presentation. It gave me more confidence and skills to present myself in an effective manner.

After class, I decided to participate in the blood drive that was on campus today. It was may first time doing so, but I had my friend Thara to accompany me on my new experience. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about it; I have never donated before, but I kept telling myself I would save lives.

Turns out, it was not as bad as I thought and I feel very good about saving three lives. The volunteer was was proctoring my donation pointed out a woman in the hall who was saved by a blood donations while she was giving childbirth. If it weren't for the donations, she would have not survived. This made me feel very happy that I could make the difference in someone's live just by donating blood. It is something simple one can do to good in the world. This is why I am drawn to medicine: you can help save lives.

Nervously waiting...

My blood being drawn...I have yet to know my blood type.

This bag of blood can save 3 lives.

I'm trying to be Rosie the Riveter but instead I'm "Lupe the Blood-Giver" -Irene Rojas-Carroll

We met with Ms. Stewart during dinner and we had a blast. She gave us the departure information for Saturday.

I am sad to be leaving Brown. I feel like I have a home here now in the Rhode Island community. The people here are amazing and I love my class and the professor as well. There is so much that I learned from being here on the East Coast. However, every beginning has its ending, and with that, another new beginning emerges, ready for us to grasp hold of it for a new chapter in our lives.

Tomorrow, we will practice for our Action Plan presentations for Friday.

Homework is calling me.