Friday, May 30, 2014

Did I Say Rutabaga or Did I Just Think It?

Yesterday's dinner at Kuleto's was yet another milestone event for the Penn Cohort. I think it is safe to say that it was also everyone's favorite event so far. 

This episode of our saga began when we arrived at the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station. After everyone in our  group had arrived, Don went over some rules and guidelines and distributed clipper cards. I was a little worried because I had never used a clipper card before but fortunately I was able to figure it out, and we proceeded to the BART platform.

Aren't you glad I didn't say Rutabaga?
While on BART, I had a lovely conversation with Julia Shebek and fretted extensively about my imminent speech. Julia taught me some useful techniques she learned in drama to help me present myself well while I spoke. I'd like to say that Julia was as helpful at calming my nerves as she was helpful at teaching me how to comport myself well, but in truth thanks to her I almost ended up saying "rutabaga" at least once in my speech. (For the record, I didn't ever say "rutabaga" in my speech, but it was a close call.)

The BART trip ended all too soon for me since I was still fretting about my speech-making abilities, and I once again triumphed over technology by successfully using my clipper card to exit the BART Station. As the group walked to Kuleto's some of us stragglers nearly lost sight of the faster walkers among us, but the most harrowing part of the experience was trying to follow the group through the restaurant. Since the room where the dinner was held was a bit secluded, I nearly lost track of where my peers where headed and it is lucky that I did not get lost.

Getting to know the Alumni
Once everyone arrived in the room, we had another chance to mingle with the Alumni. I found myself listening to three alumni; Beth, Tom, and Phil. It was great to hear all their different perspectives and learn about the campus, which is apparently gorgeous. All three of them were incredibly thoughtful and knowledgeable. I had a wonderful time hearing Phil's stories about Penn, which were simultaneously entertaining and edifying. I also enjoyed the hors d'oeuvres that were available at this time.  

Then it was time to eat. Dinner began with salad, which was so good I was able to enjoy it despite my nervousness about my upcoming speech. Before I spoke, though, there were many other speeches. Madeline Kronenberg gave an excellent speech about the Ivy League Connection, as did Phil Schlein, who told us to study what we were passionate about. I think I will take his advice to heart this summer, since social justice is such a fascinating, important cause for me. Eventually it was time for me to speak, which I did. I think I did okay, though I did forget to thank everyone I wanted to thank. After I spoke, Donna spoke, and I really enjoyed her speech. Mr. Ramsey also gave an inspiring speech about the importance of giving back to our communities.

Delicious Filet Mignon
Dinner was excellent. I enjoyed the Filet Mignon very much, but for me, dessert represented the highlight of the meal. (Dessert was italian cream with strawberries and it was the pinnacle of culinary achievement. Any attempts to describe it will surely fall flat of its magnificent, unfathomable splendor.) I also had a great time learning about Penn from Tom, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania after majoring in Computer Science. According to Tom, everyone at Penn is very nice and welcoming and we should not hesitate to ask people on campus about what they are doing. It was also really interesting to hear a comparison of UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania.

Guess what? I'm holding the flag again!
After dinner ended, those of us who were returning by BART walked back to the station. Serendipitously, our train arrived at the station moments after we did. The return trip was swift and orderly except that at the very end the escalator suddenly ceased to work, throwing us all forwards, though luckily nobody was hurt. 

This was a wonderful experience. I am even more excited to go to Penn this summer, now that I know so many wonderful things about the place. 

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