Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cookies and Tea

It's over. Just like that –with a single piece of paper my time in Cornell University's Summer College has come to an end. After a flurry of photographs and teary farewells, I left Kennedy Hall with a certificate and paradox of feelings. Walking down the street to the Statler Hotel for the final time, the three weeks spent scrutinizing philosophical texts and racing through campus seemed to have passed in an incomprehensible whirlwind of moments. Yet at the same time, as I passed McGraw Hall, where I would no longer attend Professor Kramnick's lectures on sailors and captains, philosopher kings, and revolutions, as I passed White Hall, where I would no longer discuss the intrinsic ideas of intellectuals, as I heard the clock tower chime for the final time, I felt as though I had been a college student attending Cornell University for more than a month. 

The plane had propellers! I haven't been on one of these planes
for almost a decade.

Before the graduation started, I brought my printed poster of Kevin to have the other members of my discussion group sign. Everyone was surprised that I had actually printed it and they were too ecstatic for words—laughing and inviting students from other discussion sections and classes, and even parents to marvel at my handiwork. Everyone in Kevin’s group signed the poster, and in the midst of it all Professor Isaac Kramnick came to see what all the commotion was about. He was exceptionally impressed and delighted by the poster, and asked that I email the digital photograph to him and the other teacher assistants. His praise was worth more than the other students’, and I set me in a positive mood throughout the ceremony. Kevin arrived later than the other TAs, most likely packing for his flight to France a few hours after the graduation. I exchanged the poster with Kevin when I received my certificate on stage, and I was glad he kept it rolled up until after the ceremony had ended, so that we could see his reaction and talk to him one last time before everyone parted ways. He slowly unraveled the gift and was speechless for a moment before he could express his surprise and appreciation with “wow.” He of course elaborated more on his reaction and noted that he liked how he was “not only a philosopher king, but also a holy figure that emits divine rays of light.” I was glad everyone liked my poster, and I managed to take pictures with the professor, Kevin, and my fellow classmates.
Me and my first and favorite college professor: Professor Isaac Kramnick.
I left Cornell University unsure of how I was supposed to feel, and even as I walked onto the “express” airplane from Ithaca to Philadelphia from the runway, my third time doing so, I was unsure of my emotions. Coincidentally, Kevin was on the same flight to Philadelphia to transfer to Paris where he will be taking speech classes while studying political theory. I was not able to talk to him, since he was sitting across the aisle from me, but after the plane landed we exchanged farewells before parting ways. 

A Philadelphia Philly cheesesteak!
A midnight snack of cookies and tea.

In Philadelphia, I enjoyed my first Philly cheesesteak sandwich, since I never did taste the deep-dish pizza in Chicago. Rochelle, Christian, and I also had time to let out some energy and at the same time rejuvenate ourselves as we played with elementary children in a small but surprisingly modernized play area. There was a radio system built into the structures so that three people could speak over a microphone from three different places in the area, and one could even broadcast their voice over the entire structure. It was a fun experience  and after a long but bearable plane ride that had my neck and feet sore by the time I clambered out of the aircraft, I was home in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

My mother and Marvin, my most precious one-eyed Lhasa Apso mixed-breed, greeted me at the airport and I recounted highlights of my trip during the car ride home. After less than an hour, I arrived at my house. Due to the late hour, my brother and David, the recently arrived exchange student from France, are asleep, and so I will not have the opportunity to meet the latter in person until tomorrow morning. To my surprise, David had brought souvenirs from his hometown Paris, and I am feeling much more rejuvenated after a few French almond cookies and a hot mug of tea, which I have thoroughly missed for the past three weeks. I am home.

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