Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kuleto's: A Dinner to Remember

Last night my cohorts and I had dinner at Kuleto’s, a restaurant known in the Bay Area for its excellent food and high class clientele. But we weren’t there just for a good meal: my comrades and I were on a mission. We knew that we were going to meet Yale alumni and get a chance to pick their brains for any information that will make our summer stay in Yale more enjoyable, what to expect, and how to prepare ourselves. We also knew that the men and women who fund the Ivy League Connection would be there and that it was expected that we thank them for their contributions. Finally, we knew that we were being given an awesome responsibility at this dinner. We not only represent our respective schools, but we represent the next generation of Ivy League Connection scholars. With Mr. James C. Lu there, we had to show that our generation was going to be the best of the best. And what better way to do that than with a dinner? But before I go on and tell the highlights of last night, allow me to tell you of the hectic time I had preparing earlier that afternoon.
Mr. James Lu on the left and me on the right

I know that anyone reading this probably wants me to get directly to the dinner, but preparation with the Ivy League Connection is just as important as the events themselves. Following a long day at school, from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM, the last thing I wanted to do was go anywhere. Nevertheless I had a duty to fulfill. My mom showed up with my suit at my school, I ran into the locker room, made a quick change, and I was ready to go. I made sure my suit matched the dress code, my camera had enough memory for pictures, and that I had spare batteries, just in case. It was also vital that I work on my introduction. People don’t want to hear your whole life story, just a quick blurb about who you are and what you represent. That is one of the more important things that I learned from Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone. I bolted out of the locker room at 4:20 and hopped in my mom’s car and she drove us to a BART station. BART is our local train station that takes us all over the Bay Area, for those of you reading who are unfamiliar with the means of transportation in the Bay. I was tense that we were going to be late, but lo and behold there was little traffic and we arrived twenty minutes early. Well, it’s better to be early than late. We waited a while, caught a train ride to San Francisco, and walked to Kuleto’s. As we approached Kuleto’s we saw such extravagant stores like Sephora and Nordstrom in a busy upper class shopping district.

Our party waiting for the train.
Then we entered Kuleto’s, an Italian restaurant that had a warm, delicious smell in the air as you entered. We walked down a piece to our private room and along the way saw people dressed to the nines. This looked like the kind of restaurant that you have to call three months in advance to get a table. The room that the Ivy League Connection had leased for the evening was the Machiavelli room, a small and intimate space with mirrors on one wall. Don gave me some photography tips so that I would get hit with my own flash reflection on a mirror, and they did prove very useful. I mingled lightly before dinner with former Ivy League Connection member Austin Long, who wrote a great report on Bull Dog Days at Yale. There were also, as mentioned before, Yale alumni who provided some insight into the campus and the culture of Yale. I also got a chance to talk more with my comrades and got to know them better. AP testing is on all of their minds, and I wish them the best of luck with their endeavors.

Left to right: Josh, me, Damian
At about 6:30, we all sat down and began the dinner. They brought out tiny pizza slices and cheese and ham on small slices of toasted bread. It was good, but nothing to write home about. But far more important than the appetizers was the company. Some of the Yale alumni who gave me some great insight not only into the Ivy League Connection but also into campus life include Esther Hong, Ken Yamaguchi, and Austin Long. Each was from a different college within Yale University, and I soon found out how deep one’s commitment to their college runs. Ken told me about the modern architecture that is in the newly renovated Stiles and Moore building, which piqued my interest. But then Esther came along and told me her experience about living in a “castle” as she described it. But beyond those two and Austin debating which college was the best, I had the pleasure of picking their brains on the majors offered, the teachers, the food, the dorm life, and everything in between. The excitement in the conversation made it go by all too fast. Before we knew it people were giving speeches and introducing themselves to the assemblage.
Me with Esther

Bill Lindsay gave a speech on his experience in Yale along with some personal experiences that I hope I will one day use. His wisdom is priceless, and when he spoke about being a “lost Californian” and finding the help and the strength to keep going will inspire me to shoot for the stars. All of the people who help fund the Ivy League Connection also spoke and a story by a man named David Leuffler who spoke about having to fight the school board to start the Ivy League and finding the funding. Another funder talked about the struggle to get funding to build new facilities and buildings for schools. Then, my comrade Eric went up and talked about what he plans on bringing back to the West Contra Costa Unified School District and how he plans on using it. Eric is a smart guy, as are my other comrades, and his speech was both eloquent and concise. He gave enough information for all of us to understand where he is coming from and what he’s going to do without clouding it in excess material.
Eric giving his speech.

After that Mr. Charles Ramsey spoke and praised my comrades and me for our hard work and grit along with thanking those alumni who showed up. Charles also gave us some great advice on how to deal with the struggle of the real world where we must help the community around us. He said that it is not enough to have a nine-to-five job and come home to be with your family. We must help the community that has helped us; give back to those that gave us so much. To quote Charles, “The more you give, the more you get.”

The rest of the evening was followed with wonderful fillet mignon with mixed vegetables. It seemed to melt in my mouth and the butter on top added so much. The rich, creamy butter and the vegetables, along with the medium rare fillet mignon complemented everything so well. The food complemented the conversation so well. We talked more about the classes, how Ken and Esther picked their majors, and how Austin enjoyed the entire Ivy League Connection when he went to Brown. The time spent conversing with such educated people has broadened my horizons. I have always wanted to enroll in a university on the East Coast, and after talking to these people I am positive that I will apply to all the ones that I can. Yale has the classes that I am interested in, and from what I got from Ken and Esther it really isn’t that competitive and more cooperative. I was told that everyone there wants you to succeed and is extremely supportive. This is the vibe I get at my high school, Middle College, and a vibe I hope to experience after I apply to Yale.
Ken Yamaguchi and me.

We finished off the night with pictures next to the Yale alumni and pictures next to people like James Lu and Madeline Kronenberg. We then walked to the BART station, seeing the extravagant stores on our way out, caught a train, and made our ways home. It was a fantastic night filled with educated people and intelligent conversation. It has prepared me more for my trip this summer to Yale.
The name of the restaurant emboldened over the entrance.

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