Monday, July 4, 2016

An Unforgettable Experience

Last night, my RC group (which consists of Adi, Baiting, Boyuan, Humberto, Jason, JC, Sravan, and me) and I decided to wake up “early” to go get breakfast together so that we wouldn’t be too hungry before brunch, which was to start at 11:00 AM, so we agreed to meet up just outside of our building at 8:30 to go to the 1920s Commons together. The 1920s Commons is the university’s campus location for breakfast and dinner, but unfortunately, as we discovered upon our arrival there, it was closed in recognition of Independence Day, even though Franklin had been told it would be open. Instead, we decided to go to the Wawa nearby the Quadrangle to pick up food to satiate our appetites before returning to the Quad to wait for the tour of the home area (the area we would be allowed to go to during the program) to start.

Our group combined with two other groups to form one very large group. In my opinion, based on my experience during the tour, the large group was unwieldy, as it made it difficult to cross streets and because it was difficult to hear unless one was within a few feet of the tour guide. Consequently, we did not hear some of the information and had to ask for it to be repeated. However, the purpose of most of the locations they showed us was fairly self-explanatory, although we did have to listen more closely when the RCs talked about the flash point at Starbucks. Essentially, having a flash point there means there will always be a RC at that Starbucks during the time we’re allowed to go out. I had also been on tours with both Dyana So and Wendy Zhou, so I was already somewhat familiar with the campus, although the RCs did introduce us to Penn Park, which is an open, grassy area that also contains tennis courts and a baseball field as well.
Penn Park
After returning from the tour, we went to the lower part of the Quad to get our brunch, which consisted of a bagel, a muffin, a yogurt, a granola bar, and fresh fruit, accompanied with a drink (soda, juice, or water). I was hoping for some more lunch items, but I don’t really have any complaints with what we were provided. As my RC group and I were eating our brunch, Franklin asked us if we wanted to play kickball at 1:30 PM, to which we all agreed. Most of us went up to our dorms to change into athletic clothes before coming back downstairs, at which point we headed out to Penn Park to play our game of kickball. Although my team ended up losing, it was still a fun, friendly game with just enough competitiveness to keep it interesting. Upon returning to the Quad once more, we went to the same area we got brunch from to get our barbecue for dinner, which consisted of a green salad, potato salad, either a hamburger or a hot dog, brownies, cookies, and watermelon, along with a drink.

Not too long afterwards, we went to the orientation for the Summer Discovery program. The first speaker was Mr. Eli Lesser, who my cohort and I had actually had the pleasure of meeting on the day we checked in. On that day, we had talked about how the fireworks would be earlier than it had been the previous year and he had commented on our blogs, which was somewhat of a revelation to me, as the realization that people beyond those I know were actually reading and keeping up with our blogs hadn’t quite yet hit me. Today, Mr. Lesser, the Senior Director of the Penn Summer & Non-Degree Programs, delivered an inspiring presentation about our summer program, promoting pride in diversity of ideas, cultural backgrounds, and perspectives and encouraging us to learn from each other. He also made me comprehend just how fortunate I am to be a part of this program, as there were over 2700 applicants for the summer program, yet I am among the 200 or so students to receive this tremendous opportunity. I am honored to be part of a program at such a distinguished and historical university such as the University of Philadelphia.
Entering the Ann L. Roy Auditorium, the largest lecture hall at UPenn
Inside the auditorium, which was packed
After he concluded his segment, to much applause, Ms. Miranda Chesson and Mr. Robert Friedman, I believe, who are both involved with the Summer Discovery program, spoke about the fundamental rules and guidelines for our academies, clarifying many aspects that our RCs had touched upon the night before. Upon our dismissal from the auditorium, we headed outside to return to the Quadrangle and were startled to find that it was raining outside, making the return trip somewhat colder and less pleasant.

After returning to our dorms, we were told to meet downstairs again at 9:30 PM for the fireworks. For some reason, I had believed that we would be watching the fireworks from the comfortable confines of the Quad, but instead, I soon discovered that we were going all the way to Penn Park. My RC group and I made our way through the rain and accumulating puddles to go watch the fireworks, but the weather proved to be too much for some of our group and they returned to our dorms. Meanwhile, the rest of us waited for the fireworks to begin, only to find that we were in a location from which the fireworks were barely visible, leading to a mob of people running to find a better location to watch the fireworks. In the ensuing chaos, I ended up being separated from my groupmates and was watching the fireworks from a bridge. However, I soon caught sight of Kamillah with some of her new friends, and we decided to move closer to get a better view of the fireworks. It still ended up being a rather miserable and underwhelming experience for us, as we had been expecting the Fourth of July celebration in our nation’s first capital to be more exciting, although the weather certainly did the celebration effort no favors, aside from making it memorably disappointing. I suppose that our (or at least my own) expectations for Independence Day may have been too high to begin with, but it fell considerably short of those standards. However, it will definitely be a Fourth of July I will remember, perhaps not quite so fondly, but nevertheless, an unforgettable experience.
Our view of the fireworks (the light at the center) from the bridge

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