Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bittersweet Beginnings

Once I woke up, I had to pack my last few items for check-out My RCA Maisie helped me unplug a few cords and helped me carry my suitcase outside of Balch. My little dorm room was empty again and would soon be occupied by another lucky student. Maisie has been amazing with listening to her residents and hosting hall events. I forgot to take a picture with her, but I know that I’ll always remember her! As we walked out, she told me about the difficulties of being an RCA. Students may leave stains all over the carpet and disturb other residents. Parents will call and complain when their own children violate the rules. There were nights where she had to stay up to pick up emergency calls and today she woke up at 4AM to checkout another girl. And even now she has another three weeks with another group.

Mr.Chan-Law picked the hotelies up and took us to check-in our baggage. We were all afraid our baggage would be overweight, but they ended up being lighter than when we came to Ithaca! It could have been due to some rearranging between our carry-ons and suitcases, but we like to think that Chicago’s scale was faulty.Mr.Chan-Law dropped us off in front of RPCC(our regular dining hall). Tomi and Rochelle ate while I walked to Statler.

Mr.McCarthy let me know that I would be a part of the speech making on July 4. He and Mrs.McCarthy wanted us to keep all the speeches secret to surprise the class and parents. This caused a lot of “rewording” whenever my classmates asked why I didn't have time to hangout because my team needed to practice. We practiced yesterday afternoon and this morning.
By 9:30, all the hotelies were gathered next to the auditorium. We were told where to stand in line and whispers started to circulate as a few select students fell out of order. Butterflies filled my stomach again because I knew it was presentation time.

Reneta gave a brief speech and handed it over to another student, Kamran. He introduced my group and we presented our Marriot PowerPoint presentation. Two other students spoke about CHESS and the definition of Summer College(not summer camp). Our professors surprised us with binded versions of our group reports and a certificate. The TAs presented a slideshow of us in class.

This is where the waterworks began. Their song choice and captured memories struck a nerve and it hit me that this was the end of Summer College at Cornell. The light was dimmed, so I stopped myself from becoming a huge crying wreck before the lights were turned on. We all took pictures with each other, took pictures with our professors, and said some of our final good-byes.

The Cornell cohort met back at the Statler Hotel for lunch. It was great because I finally got some food into my system, but also because I was able to see a true demonstration of the quality service our professors talked about. In the lobby, a man complained that the employees lost his car keys. A helpless employee had to continuously apologize and assure the customer that she would find the keys or make it up to him. This went on for at least 20 minutes and she didn't have a single second of hostility in her voice. Meanwhile, our friend Dustin came to say goodbye while we waited for F&J. On the first day of activities, the cohort met Dustin during the ice cream social. He’s a RCA with a double major in chemistry and Asian studies. I admire his ability to reach out to people and I'm thankful that he was a part of our Summer College experience.
My last time seeing Statler- for now
We ate a terrific lunch with great service from the restaurant once the F&J group arrived. When desserts came, Sherry called me to meet before parting. She’s the best friend I made outside of the cohort and I couldn’t leave without saying bye again. We took a few pictures at Banfi(the restaurant) and I walked her out while the others finished dessert. We said our goodbyes and I erupted in tears. Just writing about this now makes me tear up in the plane. This was someone who would soon be on the other side of the globe. Someone who I considered a sister after only three weeks would be gone and I probably wouldn't see her again until a long, long time. It’s shocking to think that people who I've met for only three weeks could mean so much to me.

Sherry visiting us at Banfi!
The cohort went through security and discovered that two of our hotelie classmates were on the same flights as us! The plane was really small and most passengers were from Summer College. As the plane took off, I frantically searched the window for a view of the campus. I felt like I would feel at peace with a symbolic farewell to the school, but everything just looked like little dots in the ground.

The worst thing about the East Coast is the changing weather. It’ll be sunny and then intervals of rain will occur. This was what my feelings were like today. I was happy to be with my cohort and friends and then sad every time I thought of parting from them. I was glad to go back to the comfort of my bed and family, but I would have chosen to stay at Cornell if I could. We transferred flights in Philadelphia and bought food to eat on the plane. I received a photo text from my friends who were still at Cornell. Surprisingly, I didn't break out into tears again. 
The tiny plane from Ithaca to Philadelphia 

A Bay Area summer sunset
Once we were above San Francisco, I remembered what I love about California: the weather.. All of the city lights were on and the pilot announced that it was only 60 degrees! We all retrieved our bags, took pictures, and went home. I showed my mom the Polaroid and posters my friends got me, and I ended up bursting into tears again. It's been the start of a great journey and I'm so thankful towards the ILC for giving me this opportunity. Before I left, my friends who were in the program all told me it was amazing, but it really settled in once we arrived in Chicago. I'm lucky to have wonderful cohorts who all get along well. Besides our new friends, we'll always have each other. I'm still trying to get over the fact that Summer College is over, but I'll have so much more to reflect on the next couple of days. 
The Cornell cohort showing off our new gear

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