Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tutorial At My School

I woke up at 7:00 AM to attend a tutorial for the Ivy League Connection at my school. I thought to myself, "Great. The last place I want to be on my Saturday morning is at my school." I got ready and left my house knowing that the outcome would far outweigh attending the tutorial in the dusty, musty, depressing, and crumbling computer lab that used to be my geometry classroom. Since the geometry teacher left in the middle of the 2013 school year, the classroom and its computers have been constantly abused by students. I remember when my class took a health survey in there, we immediately became dangerously aware of how filthy and run-down this once lively classroom filled with posters of movies and hope became. What disgusted us even more was our hypothesis that someone had empty their fluids into the hand sanitizer. Then again, all the hand sanitizers at school smell unsanitary, so our teacher told us to pay no mind.

When I got to the school, I parked right outside of the computer lab to save walking distance. When I walked in, I noticed that I was the first student to arrive. I also noticed that the computer lab was a lot cleaner than my previous visit in this classroom. Don later told me that the custodians, who usually hold excellent conversations, cleaned the place. The room was no longer as dusty and sticky as it used to be, but what didn't change was the empty and cold feeling that lingers in the room and the horridly slow and run-down equipment. It wasn't until about ten minutes after my arrival that chaperones began walking into the classroom. Then about five minutes after the chaperones, came the students. 

Before the tutorial began, many people ran into technical difficulties. Half the kids had no idea how to access Blogger and Blogspot was restricted on our computers. Don and one of the chaperones had a little episode in setting up a new Google account and getting access to Blogger. It became increasingly frustrating and I began to space out. Being the only person in the room without a laptop made me a bit self-conscious and I pondered on the idea of owning a laptop. By the time I knew it, Don was ready to lecture. The tutorial began with special tips, tricks, and talismans to ward off "Evil Don." Through out the tutorial Don taught the students the ILC standards of blogging and reasons as to why our blogs must meet the criteria. Throughout the tutorial I was a bit bored. Of course in a cold, smelly, and dejecting classroom, it gets a bit hard to focus especially when the classroom brings back a flood of memories. It took a bit of effort to keep myself interested, but Don's quick quips, snide remarks, and occasional jokes and punchlines made it a bit easier.
Hercules High School. Ironically, I found this picture on the website of my former geometry teacher.
The rest of the tutorial went on in a similar manner. Don teaching us about blogging, the East Coast, loaner items, etc. while inserting little anecdotes and other interesting, humorous, or awkward comments. We had a few quick breaks which I spent either walking slowly to the bathroom, attempting to start a game of Solitaire, or exploring Facebook. There isn't much to do when no one is at school and you're in a room filled with people you've never met with their faces blocked by bulky snail-paced computers. When it was time to scan our personal information, the scanner decided to inconvenience the group even further by not working. Half the tutorial was filled with technical difficulties and frustrations. What would have been a possible hour long tutorial, doubled in length due to electronic errors and irritations.

I didn't feel as if my time at the tutorial was a complete waste, but it was a bit tedious.  I learned little tips and tricks about the East Coast, Adobe Photoshop, blogging, picture taking, and much more. Unfortunately, the most important aspect of the tutorial, scanning the information for our plane tickets, amounted to nothing. Although there was nothing much Don could do, he repeatedly apologized. After I left the tutorial, I ran a few errands, went home, and continued my interrupted slumber.

The Tutorial

When I woke up this morning, I knew that Don Gosney, the man in charge of directing all the students in the ILC, had an informative session planned for us. What I didn't know, however, is how deep Don would dive into each subject. Don, seven of my ILC cohorts, and and I met at Hercules High School for the tutorial. The campus was large but the empty campus had a sense of peace to it. The flowers were in bloom and the sun was shining. I would have preferred to have spent such an afternoon on a walk down and up the hill I live on, but the information I gathered from the tutorial is invaluable.

Everything that I needed to know for making this blog, Don taught me. The justification of the lines of text, putting in an adequate amount of photos to keep the reader interested, and of course, how to make our blogs interesting. I also relearned the skill of checking my work after I'm done typing it. I know it may seem like a little thing but a grammatical error here and a syntax error there can misrepresent you as lazy or apathetic of your work.

There are of course those bloggers that don't care. Don gave us some humorous but true accounts of people failing to capitalize the first word in sentences over and over again, having blatant disregard for the proper spelling of some words, and writing a boring story.

Don also showed us exceptional writers. The one that I want to emulate is Mr. Austin Long. As he recounted his tale in his blog, I felt as if I was actually there with him on the Yale campus. When he described the food, I felt as if I was there eating it with him. The visuals, too, brought his story to life.
Hercules High School Computer Lab
We also learned that pictures are vital. If you write a lot and don’t have pictures to provide something for your readers to look at, they lose interest quickly. Don also showed us a couple of photo editing tricks to get the picture to look how we want it to. I’ll definitely be using this a lot to modify my photos because I get way too much sky when I take a picture.
Hercules High School
Beyond that, Don went over general things like the responsibilities we had to fulfill, like giving speeches and going to events, and mingling with adults. Mingling with other people has always been easy for me, so I think I’ve got that down.

But with the good, there is always the bad. The school district basically cut us out of the sites we needed to get to for Don to show us exactly what we needed to do. When I was trying to log in to this blog site, I was blocked by the Internet. I tried using a proxy website to get around it, but was stopped at each of the sites I tried. I tried getting in through my Gmail account, but couldn’t find it until Don pointed me in the right direction. To express the frustration that I felt when working with a system that was bent on keeping me from reaching my goals would require me to use some words that shouldn’t be exchanged in polite conversation. Not to mention that my ILC cohorts also had problems accessing their accounts using such slow and archaic technology.

We got a lot done today, and I am now more enthusiastic than ever to participate in the Yale Grand Strategies program. I can’t wait to share my story over these next few months. Also, to those reading, if you think that my stories are dry and droning please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Constructive criticism is all I ask for, and in return I will be able to better articulate my experiences so that you, too, can share in my journey.