Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hola, Chevy's!

The thing about electronic communication is that it doesn't feel tangible - reading someone else's words and replying back to them is nothing compared to talking and laughing with their living, breathing face. So after emailing our cohort and chaperone for the past couple months, it was wonderful to sit down for the first time and "break bread" and talk together.

Can you say olé?
On Thursday night, we headed on over to Chevy's up at Hilltop for that experience. I must admit that I was surprised when we asked the hostess if Tracey had arrived and a completely different person that what I had expected appeared. It turns out that Ms. Tracey Singh-Poole is very familiar with the Punjabi culture and speaks Punjabi! I met her child, an 8-year-old boy who was quite the hilarious and witty one, and sat down. Soon enough, everyone else showed up, and we dug in on our starter platters, full of wonderful Mexican delights, including quesadillas and flautas.

Our conversations throughout the meal were enlightening. We all introduced ourselves and discussed our goals for the summer, and then broke up into separate discussions. I sat close to Liam's family and Tracey, so I mostly conversed with them, though I was able to learn a little bit more about Damian. Tracey comes from the Stockton area and taught up there until about three years ago, when she got the job offer at DeAnza. One fun fact that she shared with us was that she was originally hired to work at my school, El Cerrito High, but the district moved her special education position over to Pinole Valley and then to DeAnza. She's a friendly, talented, remarkable teacher who makes an impact on hundreds of students each day, taking on additional responsibilities to make sure they all have access to a fantastic education. I understand why she was chosen to be a chaperone for the Ivy League Connection.

I found that both me and Liam shared an interest in studying political science in college. We're both interested in how decisions are made and how choices countries make affect each other. We're also both involved in our school's Interact clubs and really care about our communities, so that was another interesting bit I picked up from him. One big overarching theme during the dinner table conversations was education. Hearing a special education teacher's take on life at DeAnza was interesting in itself, but when we started discussing the roots behind behavioral, learning, and communication issues, it got even more fascinating for a person who really cares about education reform. It looks like we'll be loaded with a ton of conversation fodder for the plane ride to Yale!

Toward the end of the meal, Eric mentioned that his sister was now eight years old. Eight. I had remembered when she was born, and the fact that she had grown so much floored me. It made me realize just how far I've come, and how much I've grown. This summer, I'm so excited to grow some more with my cohort and fantastic Teacher of the Year chaperone, Tracey Singh-Poole; learning, discovering, applying, and strategizing together.

Contact Josh by commenting below or by emailing him at