Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 2-4: Cornell University - TtT

Day 2:
My bus to Ithaca departed at 8 am so Nat and JJ walked me to the Bus Terminal. Even at 7 am, the streets were crowded and you could really see everyone up and about. While waiting in line for the Shortline bus, I luckily met a girl named Lelenia who was actually from Cornell University. She was majoring in Labor Relations and was interning in D.C. for this semester but came back for this 3-day weekend. We sat next to each other on the bus and let's just say the 5 hour ride there didn't exactly feel like 5 hours. She was very kind to give me directions going to Caldwell (The Building), which was such a struggle finding my way around. If there was one thing about Cornell, it's that there are hills, it was freezing, and everywhere you need to go was noticeably distant from each other. I used to get tired just walking through the quad back in high school.

The campus was amazingly beautiful. 
I felt like royalty walking past and through castles everywhere I walked.

I thought NYC was cold but it was sleeting during the bus ride here. I eventually felt a little bit of snow but I was too absorbed noticing Cornell's beauty. I was an hour early anyways so I didn't hesitate to capture some photos on the way. 

I was actually the first one to arrive so I had lunch with Mahrusah, a member of the Organizing Committee, at the dining commons. Went back to Caldwell to meet the 9 other delegates I'll be spending the weekend with. Everyone was extremely cool, and they were all from the East Coast. Madison, Illinois, Yale, Georgia, Purdue, and I was the only guy from the West Coast entirely, but that didn't stop me from bonding with all of them. After many ice breakers, we started into our sessions and it went on until about 10pm. Exhausted, I traveled back to Tim's dorm who is a member of AIESEC Cornell, to crash for the night. Everyone else wanted to go watch a movie or do something but if anyone really knew me, I cherish my sleep. The next day, I would be training for over 14 hours so I really needed my rest. Tim and his friends even invited me to go party but I really did not feel like going out. I spent the night reflecting on my trip, my life and catching up with old friends back home. Got a good 7 hour sleep and prepared for tomorrow's rigorous session.
Day 3:
Training went from 8 am - 10:30 pm. I don't want to go much into detail since this event was kind of a "You need to be there" moment, but let's just say everything was very technical. A countless number of activities and presentations, but overall everything was extremely informative and I learned a lot of skills I wish I had during my time in Interact District Council. 

Instead of crashing back at Tim's, I hit up my old high school friend Rehan who attends Cornell and she gave me a little tour. She let me crash at her place and I met all of her floor mates who were all super friendly and welcoming. I had to prepare a 15 minute session on any topic I wanted to so I stayed up until around 3 am to perfect everything. I created a two page speech and a Powerpoint to help my session and I was too sleepy to continue staying up and memorize everything. I ended up bonding with the other floor mates and Rehan's roommate talking about life until we finally called it a day. We both needed our sleep.
Day 4:
Woke up at 7 am to get ready. I was pretty sad I didn't get a chance to say good bye to everyone, but I left a little thank you note on my way out. (Thanks Rehan & Rachel!) Today's session was all about using everything we have learned over the weekend and applying it to a practice session. I volunteered to go first but my session was more of a Ted Talk than an actual session. I received valuable feedback nonetheless, and everything is indeed a learning experience. Sessions and feedback for everybody went on until 3:30pm and we spent the last hour concluding the whole TtT experience. The facilitators described what opportunities TtT will open up to us in the future. 

My bus back to NYC was at 6 pm so before heading to the bus stop, I toured College Town, which was the area where all the best restaurants and parties were. I went to Jack's Grill to purchase a quality burger with Cajun fries (Thank the Lord). While waiting for the Shortline bus, I met a woman named Marcella. She's at least 50 years old and I offered her some fries. She reluctantly took one and I discovered she was actually the wife of a professor at Cornell. I could tell right off the bat she was a warm-hearted person. We talked for half an hour about my plan for the future, her experiences, how she never saw a Jamba Juice ever in her life, and it just goes to show how everyone in the world has their own story; it's beautiful. The Shortline bus arrived so I had to cut the conversation short, but I gave her my card in hopes she'll stay in contact with me (You never know who you'll meet again in the future!).

On the bus back, I sat near one of the other TtT delegates who introduced me to members of AIESEC Baruch. It was a dark ride back in Ithaca because the sun was only out for such a small portion of the day. We all ended up sleeping on the way back. From the bus stop in NYC, I took the subway back to Nat's. Jimmy refreshed my memory about which train I should hop on, and while waiting for the money machine to be back up, I joined in on this conversation these 3 cops were having about Prison Break. It was ironic because they were actual cops analyzing the plot, and I don't know, I thought at the time it was pretty funny. After I got off the train, my Google maps led me the wrong way home. It took me West instead of East and as I was heading back, my phone died so I was walking around the rural areas of NYC with a very expensive camera, a fat backpack and was dragging my luggage  everywhere. I tried asking people for directions; some didn't know, one guy looked at me and told me that he was so drunk, others ignored me. I eventually found myself at a McDonalds and charged my phone with my laptop. All eyes turned to me; this Asian teenager with a ton of baggage sitting down all alone. Once I reached some battery life, I eventually found the way home and note to self, never walk around NYC at midnight by yourself with all of your belongings. On the bright side, NYC was so beautiful. I am still amazed at its beauty, maybe because I'm so used to California but observing my surroundings and analyzing all of the differences just makes me appreciate my visit even more.

I finally arrived back "home" and everyone treated me as if I have lived there my whole life, which was very welcoming (': I updated everybody on my trip and eventually everyone went to bed except Nat and I. We were watching a super funny ass show I forgot the title... But we just bonded until 2:30? ish I lost track of time but we got to sleep in the following day anyways so sleep wasn't crucial for me at least. I prepared for the next day and was ready to spend a whole 24 hours in the beautiful city of New York :)


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