Friday, May 30, 2014


The dinner at Kuleto's in San Francisco was probably the best ILC event so far! 

The Penn cohort and everyone else who would be attending the dinner with us gathered together at the BART station. After we all got situated, Don (who was wearing quite a spiffy suit) set a few rules for all of us and gave us brief instructions on how to use the Clipper cards. When that was all established, we were ready to go. 

Once we were all on BART, all that I could think about was the speech that I had to deliver later on that night. Even though Don said that Julia and I had nothing to worry about, there was no way that I was going to start panicking and babbling in front of everyone at the dinner. However, being able to talk to my BART buddy, Gwennie, helped calm my nerves (even though I was babbling to her for most of the ride to SF). 

We arrived at the Powell BART station in San Francisco and made quite a dashing walk to Kuleto's. I kept looking back to see if the rest of the group was catching up but it was almost impossible to spot them in the sea of people. Kuleto's was a great restaurant choice to meet all of the alums and sponsors of UPenn and the program. Before Mr. Ramsey was finished with the seating arrangements, a few members of my cohort and I conversed with three UPenn alums, Beth, Tom, and Phil Schlein. Talking with them really brightened up my night; Beth cracked jokes and Phil seemed to have an infinite amount of stories. They also shared their experiences of Penn with us and I was more than ready to hear more. 

I was kind of saddened when we were ready to take our seats since I wasn't sitting with Phil or Beth, but the wonderful alums at my table immediately made up for it. Tom ended up sitting with Julia Mason and me and I was thankful for his enthusiasm as he gave us a bunch of information about UPenn. However, before we were able to really get into the conversation, a string of speeches were made, following Ms. Kronenberg's introductions of the ILCers, alums, and funders. Julia Mason did a wonderful job with her speech and set quite a high standard for me since I had to deliver my speech after her. Nonetheless, I took Don's advice to just speak from the heart, and after some finishing words from Mr. Ramsey and a few others, we went back to conversing and were ready to start on our entrees as well. 

I was able to learn so much more about UPenn and the alums. Tom, who majored in computer science, told us all about Penn such as the campus, dorms, and interesting places to visit in Philadelphia. I asked Tom what he liked most about UPenn, and he went on a long and captivating description of how open and approachable everyone was. He described UPenn as the place where no one would say no. For example, he said that you can literally just open any professors' office and ask them what they were doing, and they would be more than happy to start a conversation with you. 

Another alum who was seated with us attended the University of Berkeley after he graduated at UPenn. I took this chance to ask him for a comparison/contrast of studying in the East Coast versus being in the Bay Area. I also learned more about the differences between a public and a private university through the information he shared. Afterwards, the alums started discussing some fun facts about UPenn. Apparently, there's a dry moat (complete with a drawbridge) located on campus.

Before we had our dessert, Don snapped a few group photos of the alums and ILCers. I was having flashbacks of how Don had to position us for a group photo at the School Board meeting, but our dinner group picture went a lot smoother. 
UPenn: Alums and ILCers
After a long but wonderful night, we were ready to go home. On the BART back, I had the most interesting conversations with another member of the UPenn dinner, Ms. Cohen. While we talked to pass time on the ride home, I found out that she grew up in the East Coast and I was able to learn a lot more about the environment there as well. We were still chatting after the ride as we were taking the escalator down the station, when the escalator suddenly stopped. Some person fell forward right behind me and I turned around to find that it was Mr. Hillyer (I might just have saved Mr. Hillyer's life). 

The Penn dinner was definitely a milestone event. I learned so much more about Penn and the East Coast from all the amazing alums who were more than eager to share their experiences with us. Now, I feel more prepared than ever to go to Pennsylvania!

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