Friday, July 21, 2017

Till We Meet Again

I’m not sure where to begin. My blogging days are coming to an end and I’m beginning to realize how difficult it will be to wrap up this journey.

Departure Day
Besides the fact that it has changed my life in so many positive ways, there are many reasons why I don’t want to let go of the Ivy League Connection. The program’s application process itself was incredibly humbling and taught me a lot. I signed up the first time thinking that it wouldn’t be too difficult for me to get in. After all, my sister was an alum and she had been admitted her first time. I thought, ‘How hard can it be?' 

Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised to hear that I’d been accepted for the Brown Women and Leadership Program interview. I had spent hours writing my essays and my parents helped me tirelessly rehearse answers to give the panelists. I was completely sure of what I would say and the way in which I’d deliver these thoughts of mine. Despite all of the preparation, I remained insecure, shy, and barely confident in my ability to improvise.

As a superstitious person, it’s usually difficult for me to be super confident about things that I desperately want, for fear of sabotaging myself. This wasn’t the case the day of the initial interview, because I came out of that room prepared to hear good news. If only someone had prepared me for the utter heartbreak and shame that I would face upon finding out that my name wasn’t among the ones read off the final list. 

Arrival Day
Naturally, I felt sad, angry, confused, and in denial about not getting chosen. I had made the mistake of being overconfident and it really bruised my ego in the end. It made me feel like I was worthless. 

But the situation did remind me of the need to remain modest and unassuming which is something that I am very grateful for. 

At first, I wanted to forget about the situation entirely, so when Don sent out an email about meeting up and looking over denied applications to see what had gone wrong, it pained me to schedule a time. Ultimately I knew that it was the right thing to do, and the interaction worked out beautifully in the end. Don helped me understand ways in which I could have improved my approach. We watched the interview together and analyzed my essays. To this day I firmly believe that it was his advice that completely changed the way in which I tackled the application process. It is what landed me a spot in the Cornell program.

I was aware that there was a high chance that additional programs would not be available, but still content with the help. 

The Cornell and UPenn programs were both released shortly afterward. I applied, happily took on the workload, focused all of my time and attention on my application, and made it through at last.

The second time around I felt pretty nervous and vulnerable while interviewing, but I was less afraid of rejection. I had learned to be humble and open to critique. I had also mastered the art of perseverance and didn't feel the need to act. I was also too exhausted to be anyone but myself. My answers were not prepared beforehand. The panelists and I engaged in conversation, it felt natural and we laughed. I enjoyed it a lot because it was a much more sincere and genuine interaction compared to last time. 

I think my photography skills might have improved
as well. 
This experience has allowed me to learn and grow in so many ways. Daily blogs have not only improved my writing abilities but also proven to be relaxing, inspiring me to document my thoughts and feelings more often. The interviews, ILC dinner speech, and class presentations introduced me to public speaking and improvisation. On the whole, I feel much more confident in myself.

I’ve met so many amazing people and made friends that have contributed to my knowledge, perspective, and overall happiness. Educated speakers, advocates, and activists such as my professor and TAs taught me how to stand up for my own rights and the rights of others.

I have learned about the many ways in which I can make a difference in the lives of people within my own community. I plan on spreading awareness and volunteering through an online blog, school club, and local organizations. This is exactly the type of work that I have been looking forward to. 

Yes, I’m very excited for my plans for the future. I’m also enthusiastic about the fact that my fellow cohort members, and driven classmates in the International Human Rights class are bound to grow up some day and make large contributions to society.

More than anything I am thankful to the ILC for granting my peers and I this opportunity in the first place, and to the panelists, sponsors, parents, and readers that have never failed to support us ILCers. Many thanks to our awesome chaperone Deven for his dad jokes and support. And of course, thanks, Don Gosney for everything that you do. This program would not be possible without your hard work and dedication. 

I must say, I desperately wish that I could relive this experience. The trip will always remain a significant part of my life, and I will cherish these memories forever. 

In the words of my favorite Cornellian, Andy Bernard, “I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.”

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