Sunday, June 30, 2013

Change of Pace

Those on the East Coast are definitely faster than those on the West. Today my group was rushing to find a room to rehearse for our presentation for tomorrow. I was lagging behind my group members (two from East Coast and one from China) as we walked from place to place. I finally saw and experienced for myself how much slower I am compared to those on the East Coast. Before I flew here, I didn’t think there would be THAT much of a difference. My mom walks fast and I’m always able to keep up with her, so why couldn’t I keep up with the people on the East Coast? It turns out that there’s really a big difference in pace.

However, besides finding out how slow I am, I found out about Model UN through my group members. It is just like the United Nations, but for high school students. It was very interesting to hear about it. Students can go to different countries or different states to meet other students from all over the world for a weekend to give speeches and make peace. Students are able to travel to many countries depending on which countries host this program. It’s a great opportunity to meet different people and learn about different cultures. Just like this program!

One day, it would be nice of our school district offered something like Model UN. We have Junior Statesmen of America (JSA), but it’s more arguing and debating. It would be nice to experience some peaceful discussions instead. However, I also know that this program is probably very expensive since it requires flying to different countries as well.

I also learned from a group member, Helen from Beijing, how it is better to go to public school rather than private in China. It’s the complete opposite of us! In America, we tend to see private school as better schools compared to public schools. Students in China have to qualify for public school and if they don’t qualify, they have to go to private school.

Helen also told me of how she’s been flying to Hong Kong in order to take the SATs and SAT Subject Tests. It sounds very expensive! It’s difficult to imagine how much other people want to come to America to study. However, people in America also want to study here because there are more opportunities and chances to get into a good college. It’s very understandable. I hope Helen goes to the school of her dreams!

It turns out that I’ve learned a lot today. I should probably work on walking faster so that my group doesn’t always have to wait for me. Also, I’d really like to be a part of Model UN. It sounds like a really great experience.

Under Locke and Key

As I sit on my bed typing my daily blog, I cannot help but smile as my roommate and my classmate watch and analyze videos of belly button piercings. They are only two of the many good people  have met since leaving the Bay Area, and their optimism cheers me up after reading sixty pages of political theory. After spending yesterday exploring, I resolved to spend today diligently working. I spent my day studying, eating, studying, protecting my classmate's laundry, running out for snacks, and more studying. Spending the day inside of an empty dorm room reading monotonous scriptures from John Locke's Second Treatise of Government promotes a certain level of nostalgia and inner reflection. 

Ready for work!

The Ivy League Connection truly is a door to opportunity, and I will be eternally grateful for everything the program and its sponsors, supporters, and especially administrators have done for me and my fellow ILCers. Without the ILC, I would still be an immature and shy student who limited contact with others and hesitantly spoke in class. I not only talk with the other students at Cornell, but I approach them with a smile. I have met many interesting people, and even today while walking through Target I was stopped by a middle-aged father who pointed out the University of Chicago shirt I was sporting. His college son watched our conversation somewhat awkwardly, unsure if he should go on or wait for his father. The latter was a kind man who asked if I was a student at UChicago, and I jovially explained that I had bought the shirt during a college visit. He went on to ask me if I was interested in attending UChicago, if I was planning on attending a larger school, what colleges I was interested in, and I was more than happy to answer his questions. at the end of the exchange he wished me luck on my journey. I thanked him and continued on my search for snacks, energized at having met yet another kind soul in this foreign land. 

During the initial days of the Cornell University Summer Program, I felt slightly inferior to the other students, some of which had attended several other similar programs at Duke, Georgetown, and other high ranking universities. Many of my classmates were bright students, but while some were slightly arrogant, I soon found that these people were just like me: students striving for success. Most of the students on campus are outgoing and genuinely friendly, and positively open-minded. During discussions everyone speaks to share their opinions and hear feedback, and now I consistently share my thoughts without fear of being wrong. 

I used to hesitate to speak in class in fear of saying the wrong answer, but now I realize that I do not have to say the right answer all the time. I am here to learn, and to learn, I have to prove myself wrong so I can remember the right answer, and even in philosophy when there is no right answer, the class depends on an exchange of different ideas and perspectives. 

Presentation Ready

I woke up to a bug flying around my room this morning. I was still drowsy eyed, but the bug looked huge. It wasn't until I got up to look at it that I found out it was just a small butterfly with a big shadow. I was relieved that it was just a butterfly, but little did I know, butterflies would end up in my stomach later on in the day.

Since tomorrow is my presentation, my team agreed to meet at Statler Hall to practice before doing a practice presentation for our professors and TAs. We met at 9 AM even though our practice was at 12:45. All of the computer labs were closed, so we ended up looking at our PowerPoint from a laptop. The teachers and TAs arrived at 12. When it became time for us to do our practice presentation, my team started to have mixed feelings. Two of us wanted the professor to watch and critique us while the other two wanted the TA to watch us. A lot of people wanted to be seen by the TAs because our professors are more critical, but my opinion was that the professors care about us, and their advice would be beneficial towards our actual presentation. Our TA Rico ended up reviewing our presentation. He didn't say anything  bad about our performance, so hopefully the professors will feel the same tomorrow.

We went back to our dorms for lunch. It was almost 3 PM so we needed to head back to Statler for office hours. That's right, we have class on Sundays too! For three hours, we edited our PowerPoint, rehearsed our speeches, and played CHESS afterwards. There was a high demand for conference rooms so groups had to take turns. Luckily our practice presentation was approved, so we got to leave. Other teams had to stay past 7 because their presentations needed to be worked on and approved.

In preparation for tomorrow, I went down to the laundry room to iron my clothes. I'm not very good at ironing so I just plugged in the iron and rolled it over all the crinkly parts. It was a scary trip because the floor the laundry room is on is dark and empty. No one lives there, but the girls upstairs were watching a scary movie. That didn't help at all.

My presentation is the first tomorrow and Mr. Chan- Law is coming to watch our presentations. Rico told us he'd give us an 88 or 91 earlier. We practiced all weekend though, so hopefully our performance will be even better tomorrow. To say that I'm not nervous at all would be a lie, but I feel more confident since I've gone through the ILC interviews, ILC speeches, and Forensics at school.

Hilton Brand Hospitality

This morning I met with the rest of my group members in Robert Purcell Community Center's computer lab at 10:00 AM. We immediately set work on refining our PowerPoint presentation. The next one and a half hours taught me a lot about compromise; the group got into multiple arguments over how the presentation should look, but we were able to quickly resolve these issues through negotiation. Thanks to this experience  I was able to learn of the importance of sacrificing one's personal preferences for the sake of completing a common, overarching goal.

At 12:00 PM, we had our first consultation with Mark. My group nervously ran through our presentation, and although there was a bit of stumbling and stuttering here and there, we ultimately gave a modest performance. Mark was very supportive and receptive, highlighting our strengths whilst also giving us advice on how to we could improve our presentation.

Rattled after our mock presentation, we decided to take a lunchbreak. However, with our usual lunch hall closed and the dining hall in Robert Purcell Community Center too far aware, we found ourselves with very little options. We began tirelessly searching the vicinity for food before we finally decided on the Statler Hotel's restaurant, where we enjoyed a delicious brunch buffet. The buffet boasted a wide variety scrumptious foods, such as beef salad and lamb crops, as well as a delightful assortment of desserts that included crepes and creme brulee.

The next several hours were spent rehearsing and reworking our presentation. We practiced over thirty times, coming up with new ideas and giving each other feedback all the while.

At 6:35 PM, we gave our second mock presentation, although this time it was with one of our Teaching Assistants, Rico, rather than Mark. While I was in the middle of my part, Mark stepped in and congratulated us on efficiently incorporating his suggestions. He also made a show of congratulating me for being able to project my voice, a skill that I am often told that I am lacking.

My group and I ate a late dinner and then returned to Robert Purcell Community Center's computer lab, where we put the finishing touches on our presentation. I'm quite proud of what our project has become, and I'm confident that today's hard work will be sure to pay off!

Locke and Load

I awoke to pleasant rays of sunlight and peaceful silence this Sunday morning. However, I felt a little strange. Usually on Sunday mornings my mother or father enters my bedroom at promptly 7:30 AM to awake me for church; actually I woke at exactly that time before realizing my church is about three thousand miles away. A touch of homesickness overcame me and I felt dismayed knowing that I will not be seeing the usual faces of the other church members that I have grown up with today, or for the next two Sundays. In an effort to relieve myself of this feeling, I went back to sleep for a couple of more hours.

At 10 AM, I woke up and got ready for the day. I did not have anything planned expect finish my weekend readings of John Locke and the Plato essay. While I was walking to RPCC for breakfast, I overheard the people walking in the opposite direction complaining that it is closed and will not open until 11 AM. Instead of returning to my dorm to just anxiously wait for the building to reopen, I grabbed my Princeton reader and course packet and got some more reading done for about an hour.

After brunch, I returned to my room and called my parents. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend my brother's graduation party yesterday. My mother emailed me pictures and highlight videos from the celebration, but once again, I felt homesick. I was there for him during the formal graduation ceremony held at our school, but not being with him and my family to honor this important milestone in his life made me feel guilty. Fortunately, my parents and brother completely understood my absence and were one-hundred percent supportive of my travel to the East Coast. I am realizing that my family is truly there for me and I do not think that I would have known this fact if I did not join the ILC; thank you for opening my eyes to the love and support that I have from my family.

I was finally able to do laundry this evening, but the completing this task took more effort than it should have.
The empty laundry room
Once I entered the laundry room downstairs, I placed my clothing and laundry detergent in the washing machine and swiped my ID card to pay. However, the machine said that my balance was currently at zero. Confused, I raced upstairs and asked my RCA what I can do to resolve this issue. She informed that I could go to the Service Center at RPCC and give one of the associates a certain amount of money for them to transfer onto my card. I ran as fast as I could to the building and the problem evaporated once I received the receipt showing me that there was currently six dollars in my laundry account; that's all I had in my pocket at the time. Unfortunately, it rained a little while I was walking back to the laundry room. Everything worked out in the end and now my clothes are clean, which is all I wanted.

Now the rest of my evening is dedicated to completing my Plato essay. I need a good night's sleep tonight because we will be discussing the theories of John Locke tomorrow. 

Study study

Today is probably the first non-rainy day we've had here since summer college began! I woke up to the sun shining through my windows and looked out to see an empty and peaceful courtyard. Cornell is definitely much quieter during the weekends but it was nice to just enjoy the beautiful skies for once without seeing groups of people scurrying to class all the time. I pulled out my Plato texts and started brainstorming for my essay on Plato's critique on democracy. After jotting down a few notes and potential quotes/claims that I would use in my essay, my floor mate, Monica and I headed down to RPCC to eat.

However, we didn't realize that they were already closed for breakfast. I guess it was a nice little detour though, since we were able get our laundry over with in the meantime. After our clothes were washed, Monica, Tess (another floormate) and I walked back to RPCC for an early lunch. After, we all went our separate ways to study at either the library, out on the grass, or in our dorms. Personally, I just can't concentrate in either a library or outside. Therefore, I walked back to my dorm and started a rough draft of my essay. As a break, I skyped my sister and mom. I also walked over to the Unit 2 Balch Lounge and played the piano and practiced the song I'm planning on singing for the talent show. This made my day alot better and  somehow, after I play the piano, I always have better focus when studying.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Time is of the Essence

Almost all of the students went to the farmer's market or out to explore the rest of Ithaca today. I knew that I had to work on my presentation, but I was hoping that maybe I could hang out with some friends sometime . We met at a computer lab at ten and spent hours revising our slides. Time went on and the gap to hang out closed. We barely even had time to eat! I wanted to go out and play, but I knew what was important and I had to focus.
After finishing our slides, one of my teammate's mom came to visit her from three hours away. We decided to take a two hour break and I called my friends to see if they were still at school. They told me that they just stepped on the bus to visit college town. Rather than spending two hours moping around, I practiced my part of the speech, took a short nap, and called my parents. I haven't talked to them in over three days, so it was nice to catch up. They told me about California's blazing hot weather and asked me how things were going. They don't know how to use computers, so I basically told them everything that I write in my blogs.

 Going back to work, we continued to add more slides because we came up with more ideas. The computer lab was filled with hotelies editing their PowerPoints. One of my team mates failed to show up, but the show must go on. The three of us explored the campus for an empty room we could rehearse in. My team mate, Bhavesh, heard that I watched Monsters University and asked me how I got to the theaters. I told him my chaperone took me, but he mistakenly assumed that my parents had hired someone to watch over me while studying at Cornell. I had to explain that I had gotten a scholarship through the ILC and that there were a few other girls in the program too. He was pretty shocked and it took him a while to process in his head.

Today reminded me of how fortunate I am and how much I've grown. I remember when I had to pick between a field trip and a leadership event in the seventh grade. Rather than instantly knowing that I had a leadership position to fulfill, I cried as if my life was over. I'm glad that since then, I've been able to learn from my mistakes and glad that the ILC gave me the chance to demonstrate that.

As for the mix-up with my team mate, I think that I feel even more inclined to do well at Cornell. I'm extremely proud to know that I was able to attend this program through the ILC.  The other students come from all over the world, but there isn't really anything that differentiates us ILCers from them. We were able to ace through our first week here being acknowledged as Cornell students. Nobody was able to notice that we didn't go to private schools or that we didn't grow up attending these programs every summer. If they knew that we were able to tour colleges in Chicago, dine with admissions officers, and become ambassadors for our communities, they'd be even more shocked. 

Change of Plan

Due to certain circumstances, our expedition to the Farmer’s Market was cancelled. Unwilling to spend the day cooped up in our dorm, my classmate, Gloria, and I decided to take a walk to college town to see more of what actual college life at Cornell is like. We walked for almost half an hour in the intermittent rain before arriving in the college town, which not as great as I had expected it to be.

Many Cornell visitors took shelter during the monstrous downpour.
Perhaps my perspective of the miniature town was dampened by the dreary rain, but there were many small shops and restaurants, as well as bicycle stores, a travel agency, bars, and a popular late-night bakery by the name of Insomnia Cookies. Gloria and I ventured through the buildings before heading back to campus just as the rain began to return. We had planned on taking the bus back, but we decided we needed the exercise and wanted to visit the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. While passing crossing Ho Plaza, we, along with two college tour groups, were caught in a shocking downpour and took shelter beneath the overhang of the Cornell Store.

After ten minutes, the rain lightened somewhat and Gloria and I were on our way to the art museum. It was a long walk uphill, but eventually we reached the doorstep and spent the next two hours admiring and interpreting exquisite exhibitions of artistry. Alice Dalton Brown’s oil paintings lined the walls of the second level and we were fascinated by the unbelievable realistic quality of her works; unless closely inspected, the paintings would have easily passed as professional photographs. Brown’s characteristic portrayals of veils and summer porches were breath-taking and very refreshing to see in light of the dark rain outside. Her painting Dark Leaves was one of my favorites because of the vibrancy of color and picture-like detail. 

The museum's fifth floor also provided a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape through its 360 degree outer walling of glass windows.

Following viewings of historic Asian, African, and Latin American arts, Gloria and I returned to the dorm to get down to work after  an energizing break from the stressful week thus far. I have a lot of work to complete tomorrow, but I am confident I have the energy to finish everything to the best of my ability. Sometimes, a change of plans is not as unfortunate as it initially seems. 

Fun, But According To Who?

Tomi, Sammy, and I went to Collegetown today. I remembered when Jim Schechter, director of Summer College, told us how he would take his kids to Collegetown and they would think it’s the city. If those kids thought Collegetown was a city, they will surely be surprised when they go to an actual city.

The delicious bagel
When I first heard of Collegetown, I thought it had fun and entertainment since everyone kept going there. It turns out that it really isn’t much. Maybe I got my hopes up too high because Collegetown was very small and there wasn’t anything to look at. There was an amazing bagel shop though.

Ithaca Commons

After walking around the entire Collegetown in about twenty minutes, we decided to go to Ithaca Commons. It was much more entertaining than Collegetown, but that isn’t saying much. There were stores that sold homemade or organic goods. It took us a while to get to Ithaca Commons, but I thought it was worth it. I thought it was very nice to get away from campus even for a few hours.

Since Ithaca is such a small place, there wouldn’t be a place as fun and entertaining as San Francisco. However, for people who haven’t seen a big city, like Jim Schechter’s children, a small town would be just like San Francisco. It’s interesting how something could mean one thing for one person and mean something completely different to another.

I use to go to San Francisco every week to visit my grandmother. I remember in grade school, my classmates would be very excited to go to San Francisco, but I just thought of it as the place where my grandma lives. Some think Collegetown is where all the fun is, but to me, it’s just a place to escape dorm food.

Perspective is a funny thing. I expected to have the time of my life in Collegetown today, but it turns out that it all depends on the person as to whether it’s fun or not. I’m glad we found another place to enjoy ourselves for the day though.

Day at the Museum

The sound of birds cheerfully chirping and bright rays of sunlight awoke me by 10 AM. After five days of routinely waking up at 7 AM, it was nice to enjoy a more pleasant and unplanned morning. Now that we had some free time, Tamilyn and I ventured to College Town and had brunch at a local pizzeria. As we were traveling through the area, we passed several other establishments, including Starbucks and a 7-Eleven. I felt as though I were in the city instead of an extension of the Cornell campus, despite its small capacity within Ithaca. Suddenly, a multitude of raindrops made their descent once we left the pizzeria and began walking towards the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Fortunately, we reached the building a little damp but safe.
A view of Cornell from the museum
Me in between three cast iron sculptures

Once we stepped foot into the museum, our eyes began to feast on the wide variety of artwork. Within the five-story establishment, oil paintings, watercolor inks, C-prints, wood engravings, pencil sketches, and sculptures made of cast iron, gray stone, and slip-cast porcelain encompassed each floor. My favorite was Alice Dalton Brown's Afternoon Calm, an oil on canvas portraying a realistic view of a summer home porch. 
Afternoon Calm

From a distance, it looked as though it just a well-taken photograph. The intricate details and beautiful colorations of this piece made me feel as though I were in the door way of that porch. 

Tamilyn near Pair of male and female buraq sculptures
Before we left, we visited the Asian Art exhibit on the fifth floor. To no surprise, every piece artwork was outstanding. What I truly admire about art is its ability to represent one's ideas, emotions, and culture all at once. Just looking at every sculpture and painting opened my eyes to the richness and diversity of Asian art.

The rest of my Saturday compromised of readings from Locke and the commencement of my final essay, the prompt being what Plato's critique of the democracy in which he lived is. At least I will be able to sleep in once more tomorrow before class reconvenes on Monday.

Sightseeing in the Rain

I didn't wake up until this morning 10:30 AM, much to my groggy glee. After lazing around in my room for an hour, I decided that it was about time that I met with the others and at 12:30 PM, Rochelle and I made our way to Robert Purcell Community Center for lunch. 

Initially, Sammy, Rochelle, Michelle, and I had plans to visit. Ithaca's Farmers' Market, but we were forced to postpone our plans to next week due to Michelle having to meet with her group in order to discuss their project. With the day's plans in shambles, Sammy, Rochelle, and I began deliberating over the prospect of visiting Collegetown, a little suburban community just outside of Cornell University. In the end, we decided to leave the choice to fate and after a simple coin toss, we set off towards Collegetown.  

After a ten minutes bus ride, we arrived in Collegetown. We quickly began exploring, passing by many different shops and restaurants. Although, Collegetown is known for it's small size, we were still shocked when we realized that we somehow walked through the entire neighborhood in less than fifteen minutes. 

In yet another moment of spontaneity, we decided to make a trip to the shopping district, Ithaca Commons. Following a twenty minute trek through rain and mud, we finally arrived in Ithaca Commons. Unsurprisingly, 
we found Ithaca Commons to be a very tiny place, spanning a miniscule two block radius. Nevertheless, we managed to entertain ourselves for about an hour. Whilst window-shopping I realized that Ithaca Commons reminded me of Berkeley; it's large amount of environmentalist products and gay pride goods as well as a colorful cast of denizens drew parallels to the highly liberal city. 

After we walking through Ithaca Commons, we decided to return to campus-but not before trying out the famous bagels of Collegetown Bagels. The bagels were wonderfully baked and really delicious, just as everyone had said. 

Once we finished eating, decided to walk back to campus instead of taking to bus. As we walked through the southern portion of campus I realized something; Ithaca and everything about it is remarkably small, except for Cornell University, which seems to comprise nearly half of the entire town. 

When I finally arrived back to my dorm room I quickly began working on my group presentation. I managed to complete my portion of the project in a little over a hour, leaving practicing my only remaining task. 

Tomorrow, I'll be working on my group presentation from 10:00 AM until about 6:00 PM, so I'm glad that I had today to wind down and get some rest. While I hope that my group won't need an entire eight hour period to finish, I am prepared to dedicate as much time as needed to this assignment. In fact, I think that I'm going to start practicing this very moment. 

Rain and Art

Waking up to beautiful weather, I spent my first actual weekend exploring a bit more of Cornell. Christian and I met up and ate brunch at College Town Pizza (College Town). Despite the 5 minute heavy rain that came down right when we finished eating, we were able to make our way to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art safely. As soon as we walked into the first exhibition, we were amazed. There were wood engravings, oil on canvas, 
pencil, acrylic on canvas, watercolor, c-prints-- it was absolutely incredible.
We spent about two hours viewing each piece of art carefully, lingering from one exhibition to the next to take a few notes. Currently, the museum is featuring Summer Breeze (Paintings and drawings by Alice Dalton Brown), Materiality of Motion: The Vibrant Lives of Southeast Asian Textiles and a few more others. Though the museum wasn't huge, there was a great range of variety- from contemporary works to ones dating back to the 1800's. 

The rest of my day consisted of readings from Locke, a review of Plato's texts, and an essay on Plato. As a break, I then went to watch Now You See Me at the Regal Cinema.

Friday, June 28, 2013


After the six Cornellians had dinner, Mr. Chan-Law drove everyone to
the Ithaca mall to watch Monsters University. After the film, he treated
everyone to ice cream. 
Waking up to a Friday morning generates a great feeling, particularly when classes end at 11:45PM as opposed to the usual 2:45PM. Fridays mark the end of a week, the start of the weekend, and signify the passage of time. To realize that the first of my three weeks at Cornell University has passed is not so surprising as the realization that the Preliminary Exam will take place in four days. Professor Kramnick's Introduction to Political Philosophy students have written one essay and received the prompt for the final paper--which will be turned in on the day of the class final-- but the Preliminary Exam will be the first graded piece of work that will weigh heavily on grades. 

This week has passed in a collective series of scheduled days which run repeatedly and monotonously like clockwork. Mornings begin with Professor Kramnick's lectures, merge into discussion sections, and the afternoon is greeted with a relieving lunch break. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, lunch is followed by a guest lecture; whereas on Mondays and Wednesdays the food serves as fuel for a writing session. The lectures are long and are capable of lulling people to sleep, but for those interested in philosophy, Plato, politics, etc. these lectures are captivating instructions. Today was part two of Kramnick's Plato lesson, and focused on the two realms which divide the masses from leaders, the infamous allegory of the cave and the simile of the sun. 

There are two main philosophies Plato is concerned with. Metaphysical philosophy questions the nature of reality and asks what is truth; epistemology questions how we know reality and on what grounds can we justify some thing as fact. According to Plato, the masses are mere spectators who deal with the world of belief and their conceptions are based purely on what they see-- what is visible. They see what appears to be beautiful, but what they perceive will change over time, and so their beliefs are only temporary. Leaders, on the other hand, are readers of knowledge, and because their world is the realm of reality, they know what is beautiful and this will not change over time. 

A visual depiction of the Allegory of the Cave that was distributed by Kevin, my section's teacher assistant. 

Toward the end of The Republic, Plato illustrates his ideas through the image of a cave, where humans are chained at the foot of a cliff so that they may only look straight ahead. They can see shadows of objects cast onto the wall before them, but they never see the fire or actual objects themselves. Thus the prisoners are only seeing appearances of objects, and their entire conception of the world is based solely on cognitive perception. One of the prisoners, however, is released from his bonds and he is then able to see the fire-- a symbol of goodness and the facilitator which makes it possible to see the appearances on the wall. The freed prisoner will at first be blinded and look away. He will then want to return to his world of appearances but will instead be dragged to the surface where the sunlight will blind him with truth. The light, which represents "goodness" will momentarily blind the man as he realizes his world of appearances was not reality and the truth will hurt at first until he acclimatizes. When he acclimatizes, he will gain vast amounts of knowledge, and will eventually return to the cave to enlighten his brothers, as it is his duty to the community as a philosopher. 

Tomorrow, many of the students will be embarking on an expedition to the local Farmer's Market, which will exhibit a rich array of fruits as well as souvenir trinkets, according to Professor Kramnick. 

Week One: Complete

Friday. The end of the school week and beginning of the weekend. For me, after a long day of school, I return home and spend my evening curled up in my nice, warm bed resting. This Friday, however, I had a different itinerary. 

The school day began with the usual morning lecture. Professor Kramnick continued explaining the ideologies within Plato's Republic. Plato establishes the characteristics that distinguishes the masses from leaders. The masses are typically sight-seers who only understand what is visible and assume things to be real based on their own beliefs and opinions. Leaders, however, acknowledge the essence of tangible and intangible objects and view the realms of knowledge and reality.

To elaborate more on these distinctions, Plato weaves a philosophical argumentation using the conceptions of philosophical idealism and empiricism. Leaders encapsulate philosophical idealism, which is the epistemological knowledge of how we understand things; in other words, one may have the ability to understand reality beyond facts, observations, and sensory experiences. The masses, however, are associated with empiricism, a theory of knowledge that emphasizes the role of evidence and sensory experience, as opposed to innate ideas and traditions.

During the discussion section, we examined Plato's famous Allegory of the Cave. By utilizing the metaphor of man being prisoner within a dark, secluded cave-which portrays his imprisonment within the conventional ethics of society-, Plato reveals the fallen and risen state of mankind, from when he makes his ascent from the cave, or ignorance, to the brightness of the outside world, or knowledge. In order to create true philosopher kings who will serve the community and educate the citizens about what is moral and just, they must return to the cave to bring wisdom to the other prisoners, as well as deflate their own desire for power.

Fortunately, class ended by 11:45 AM, and the afternoon was free for us to do whatever we pleased. I decided to enjoy a relaxing lunch with some of my classmates. At 2 PM, I ventured to Day Hall and had an informal meeting with Summer College director Jim Schechter.
The Edmund Ezra Day Hall
The purpose of the meeting was to see how I am doing in class and if I am enjoying my experience here so far; which I am so very much. Afterward, I returned to my dorm room to rest for a few hours.

While my afternoon was relaxing for the most part, my evening was very pleasant. My cohort, Mr. Chan-Law, and I went to local Ithaca mall to watch Monsters University, the prequel to the classic Pixar movie Monsters Inc.
We viewed the film at Regal Cinema within the Ithaca mall
The film's plot displayed the protagonist Mike Wazowski and his journey at the college in pursuit of becoming a scarer, a position of the highest honor for monsters. To see this comical and more exaggerated portrayal of college made me wish I was attending MU; of course I knew that was impossible. I really admired Mike's tremendous work ethic and determination to achieve his life goal; if you do not work hard, you will not succeed. To end the night, Mr. Chan-Law took us to a nearby ice cream parlor called Purity. 

Myself, Tomi, Tamilyn, Michelle, Jenna, and Rochelle at Purity
I cannot believe that one week has already passed since I arrived Ithaca! It feels as though I have been here for months. Even though the work load will increase, especially with exams and final essays starting to approach, and I may not get as much sleep as I would like, I know that all my hard work will be worth it in the end; like with Mike Wazowski. Two more weeks will definitely fly by before my realizing it. 

Before I know it

One week down, two to go! I can't even begin to explain how I'm feeling at the moment. Three weeks away from home may seem like forever, but it's actually only 14 days of class (since we have July 5 off)! And considering the fact that we've already finished 5 of those 14 days, I know this program will be finished before I know it. Therefore, whenever I feel homesick, I always try to keep myself occupied so I don't regret anything after I leave. Whether it's studying, sitting outside on the grass with friends, or explore the beautiful campus, I always manage to keep myself busy at all times. 

During today's lecture, Professor Kramnick used western philosophy (Plato's readings to be specific) to make a clear distinction between idealism and empiricism. While empiricism involved the application of observations and appearances, idealism was defined as something beyond that. In relation to Plato's view, the masses, or the common people were linked to empiricism since they believed in a sense of reality based purely on their senses. On the other hand, idealism was related to the guardians, or philosopher kings as they were the only ones who supposedly held the true knowledge of reality. This immediately sparked my curiosity for I began to form many questions in my mind: What examples can I apply this theory to today's world? Is this even a realistic train of thought/reasoning? 

Fortunately, during our discussion today, my questions were actually answered. We went on to analyze Plato's allegory of The Cave, in which this distinction could ultimately be applied. In this allegory, Plato paints a scene about men who are chained in a cave and cannot turn around to see the outside world. They are tricked by false shadows that are put on by people behind them to fool them that what they see is what reality is. These chained men are convinced because they are not aware of an entire world outside of the cave, therefore representing the belief of empiricism. One day, a man is unchained and forced to look out to the world beyond the cave. At first, the sun blinds him for he is not used to brightness. He does not find any type of pleasure from this new world beyond his "reality" but then is enlightened and finds his way back to the cave. He tries to convince the other chained men of what is actually out there, acting as the fit ruler who now has the true wisdom.

We have a paper on Plato this weekend, but luckily we got out of class at 11:45 AM today! I spent the rest of the day practicing piano (there's one on my floor!), going to College Town with a few friends, and then watching Monster's University with Mr. Chanlaw and my cohort. Today was wonderful and it was definitely good to have a small break after a week of studying.