Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Smooth Sailing

Contrary to my absolutely mortifying experience about a week ago, this Ivy League Connection gathering went a lot better. Instead of showing up an hour late, I showed up an hour early, though by mistake, but better early than late. When it was time for the Hercules City Council meeting, I was a bit nervous. I've never been to the Hercules City Hall, I've never spoken about the Ivy League Connection to so many people, and I've never spoken while on television. A few years ago, I would have never even imagined being in a position like this. The meeting started at 7:00 PM and it began with the introduction of the agenda, then roll call, then a presentation, which I barely understood, and finally the Ivy League Connection. 

Ironically, Mr. Charles Ramsey and Ms. Madeleine Kronenberg both showed up about half an hour late. In my head, I played with the idea of chastising Mr. Ramsey, but knew that would be a situation headed for disaster. Both of them walked in during the presentation, and were polite and created no disturbance. 

After the presentation, which had something to do with public transportation, Mr. Ramsey went up to the microphone and, after a few kind words, had the Ivy League Connection kids step up. First up, was Rochelle Yee, who will be going to Cornell very soon. She did a wonderful job. Her speech was both informative and funny. In my head I was thinking, "How am I supposed to beat that?!" Up next was Christian Abraham, then Anmol Randhawa (they are both leaving soon too). Both girls spoke excellently. 
Fourth in line, was I, and I was up next. I could feel my heart pounding a mile a minute and it was louder than Maria Sharapova's tennis grunt. I had written what I was going to say while driving to City Hall, but after hearing all those speeches, I was at a loss for words. I didn't want to top anyone, but I certainly didn't want to seem incapable. I looked down at the paper and introduced myself, the schools I went to, and what program and college I will be attending. The rest was almost a blur. I was shaking. I was tapping my nails onto the podium. I remember saying how this program is one of a kind, how the Ivy League Connection allows students from the West Contra Costa Unified School District to compete with students from not only around the nation, but around the world, how I will be helping future Ivy League Connection applicants, and how going to Yale will change me. I concluded with a thank you, and walked back to my seat. I was still shaking, not just because of the adrenaline, but also because my legs were sore due to a tennis workout from the previous day. Jenna Lee, Johnny Ko, and Jay Fan spoke next, they are also leaving soon and also spoke fabulously. In a nutshell, all of us just finished our junior year at Hercules High, everyone, except for me, will be leaving in June, and we're all very bright.
To end the Ivy League Connection's presentation to the Hercules City Council, Mr. Ramsey said a few kind words, which filled in the gaps, and invited Mr. Alfredo Chan-Law (a teacher at Hercules High) and Ms. Kronenberg to speak. Afterwards, the mayor called for a recess so we could all take pictures. While Don was setting up, the students exchanged small talk with the members of the Council. I found out that Council Member Romero has daughters who attended the same elementary school as I, which isn't in Hercules. 

Don set up the bench and positioned each of the students and Council Members. I was placed at the end of the bench, but in order to make room I had to sit with half of my butt on the bench. My legs were already sore, but I could stand this bit of pain. Don took about three photos, then fixed my sitting position. He told me to move my hand to the side of my thigh and to close my legs. This caused a bit of a giggle, then I apologized and said my legs were sore, which caused another giggle. My legs felt like they were on fire, but I took it like a man. I was sitting there with my legs closed and slightly trembling, while faking a smile. Don took about five more photos and I was glad to stand up. We said our good-byes and headed out to the parking lot. Don and I exchanged a few words outside. I got into my van and Don tapped on the glass. I rolled down the window and he explained why Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg were late. He joked that he didn't care what it is, they should have been there on time. Don joked, "I would have liked to see you take Mr. Ramsey outside and have a talk with him," to which I light heartedly replied, "Oh! I was contemplating it!"

I wish all the Ivy League Connection kids a wonderful time on the East Coast! While you are off learning during June, I will be anxiously waiting for my time in late July and early August. Have an awesome time and be sure to stay safe!
The Hercules City Hall.

1 comment:

  1. Here I have you reposition your legs so it doesn’t look like you’re looking for a date and then that’s the photo I end up using. But it was the one with the best set of smiles and it still looked good.

    You did a great job, Damian, as did the rest of your cohort. I don’t know if you could tell but the members of the Council were genuinely proud of you all. I know that when I left that night I, too, was genuinely proud of you all.