Friday, July 8, 2011

HBCUs and Great Food in Atlanta

Well I got about two more hours of sleep last night than I had the night before - which doesn’t exactly add to a whole lot of sleep, but some is better than none. We ate at the hotel’s restaurant for breakfast. I had a delicious breakfast of French toast, home fries, and OJ, as well as a complimentary shot glass of a guava smoothie. I have learned from this trip, that as well as not liking oysters, I am not a big fan of guava as well. You may think my tastes buds are out of control, but it tasted strongly bitter.
French toast
We were trying to hit the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, also known as HBCUs, in Atlanta. Three HBCUs are right next to each other, in a secluded area downtown. We had tours and info sessions scheduled for Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse, which is an all-male school. Our chaperone, Ms. Bulls, had attempted to schedule a tour and information session for Spelman, the all-female college, but they denied us because Kye is male, and they do not allow males on campus for tours.

Our first college session was for Morehouse. Because it’s a college only for males, Julia and I sat back and respectfully listened to the information that was being given. I did ask one question which was, “what is the benefit of going to a single-sex college?” The student guide responded that he believed there were fewer distractions in a classroom, and the guys had a better chance to strongly connect with one another and truly have a brotherly bond. He also pointed out that Spelman, Morehouse’s sister college, is right next door, so they’re never too far away from girls, if that’s a concern a guy may have about attending Morehouse.

After Morehouse, we drove through Spelman in our car, since we weren’t allowed to leave the vehicle. All three of these colleges are right next to each other, and all have the same look and feel to them. The buildings are all made from clean brick, the campuses are open, and the fields are spacious. It would have been nice to go to an info session for Spelman, but I understand their rules.
We had a lull of a few hours before our next tour at Clark Atlanta University. We decided to become true Atlanta tourists, and visit the famous World of Coke. Atlanta seems to be ruled by the Coca-Cola Company, as there are billboards, advertisements, and a wide variety of Coke flavors in every restaurant; poor Pepsi. The World of Coke tour was a lot of fun. We saw decorated Coke bottles from all over the world, different Coke slogans and advertisements in dozens of languages, and the process of making coke (unfortunately, they didn’t post their secret recipe in the process). The last stop was the tasting section, where they had soda fountains dispensing different flavors of soda from countries all over the world. My favorite was “Fanta: Exotic” from Uganda. My least favorite was the “Beverly” from Italy. It was bitter and left a horrible after taste. But definitely, the most interesting flavor was that of Japan, which was called “Vegita Beta”. The tour ended with a complimentary bottle of Coca-Cola, donned with a World of Coke label. We bought some gifts at the enormous gift shop before leaving.
Our last college visit here in Atlanta was Clark Atlanta University. This is not a single-sex school like its neighbors, Morehouse and Spellman. CAU’s strongest majors are Mass Media Arts, Business Administration, Fashion, and Psychology. What stood out from this college is its scholarship opportunities for those with a higher GPA and test scores. The professor who was speaking to us brought this factor to our attention. He reminded us that hundreds of other students will be graduating the same year as us with the same major as us. He emphasized the importance of building up our resumes and making ourselves marketable by “bringing something to the table”.

These three schools share a strong similarity: they pride themselves in preparing their students to take action and be leaders in the world. What I liked about these schools is that their admissions requirements aren’t as high as other colleges, but the students can still receive a top notch and rigorous education like that of any other private institution. What I mean by this, is that for kids who struggled through high school with keeping up grades, or weren’t in the top percentage of their school, can still attend an outstanding college like Morehouse, Spelman, or Clark Atlanta. There are opportunities for every student to go to a great college, regardless of hardships or struggles.

The previous night, the admissions counselor we dined with, suggested that we eat at the restaurant called the Westin. There are a few important facts about this hotel. The first is that it is the tallest hotel in the western hemisphere. The second is that at the top of the hotel, there is a rotating restaurant! So we took the elevator to the 73rd floor, dined at the spinning restaurant, and had enormous ice cream sundaes and a delicious strawberry cheesecake. The view was amazing.
Our last dinner in Atlanta with alumni and a college admissions officer was at a restaurant called Bacchanalia. This was the fanciest restaurant I have ever been to in my entire life. It’s a four course style restaurant, so everyone picks their own appetizer, entrée, cheese and salad, and dessert. I ordered a blue crab fritter, pheasant, Robiola Bosina cheese with a lettuce vinaigrette (which had a strange consistency), and finally a chocolate torte with vanilla ice cream. Now even though this is quite a lot of food, we received even more food from the complimentary dishes that the chef gave us throughout the night. We got grilled okra stuffed with goat cheese, a shot of fish soup, panna cotta, an array of chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow, as well as freshly baked madeleines.
We dined with two Emory college alumni. One of the two knew Ms. Bulls from when they went to UC Berkeley together, and is currently working as a PA in the medical department at Emory. The other is the college admissions officer that we met two days ago at the Emory college information session, Tyler Sant. He talked about the atmosphere at Emory, the strong sense of community the school has, and the differences between the private school of Emory and the public life at Georgia Tech. We loved hearing about his studies in race and psychology in South Africa, and his experiences studying in China. He encouraged us to get into the Study Abroad program no matter what school we go to. We also enjoyed telling him about our extracurricular activities such as my love for band, Kye’s participation in football, and Julia’s leadership in the science club at our school. We all exchanged stories about our experiences in Speech and Debate, and his stories about his home in Missouri, and his life in Atlanta. Overall, it was a great dinner; it was very laid back and fun. I love that we can have conversations with these Emory faculty members ranging from the admissions process to stories about our sports injuries.

Tonight is our last night in Atlanta until the end of our World Religions course. All in all, I really do enjoy the city of Atlanta. It seems like there is always stuff do around town, and getting there is extremely easy. Out of all the colleges we visited so far, I think that Emory is my top choice. I love the college spirits and the sense of taking pride in one’s community. The campus size is medium large, which is around the size I am looking for. The opportunities in the Study Abroad program are something I am very interested in as well. They have my intended major, and I like that there is plenty of leniency when choosing classes for GE credits. I also like how dedicated they are in choosing the right students to attend their school. Every single written and entered part of the application is read three times, and it seems like they really care about their students. I can see myself being at Emory University and fitting right in.

Off to Nashville, Tennessee tomorrow, y’all!


  1. looks like your having fun so far, hope your enjoying things yana XD

  2. Aiyana,

    Coincidentally, I have a "This American Life" story about the secret Coke recipe. I will make sure you get a copy of it -- the story, that is.

    Sounds like you are having an adventurous experience! Good for you! I am constantly amazed with the fabulous opportunity all of the ILC students have earned and been given. I'm sure there are many opportunities out there you didn't know existed. Soak it up!

    Enjoy your time, make new friends and connections.

    Mrs. (Joann) Miller

  3. Aiyana,

    Here I was worried about the number of fast food joints you all were frequenting and now you write about the top of the line restaurants you're visiting.

    Although your four course meal at that fancy shmancy place sounded good (how do you stuff okra?), how can it compare to my reheated left over barbecue from a couple of nights back? AND, I didn't have to dress up or worry f I was using the right fork!

    Never apologize if you don't like a food or drink you've been offered. My standard policy is that if I like it I swallow it and if not I spit it on the ground. [You may be thinking that I'm somewhat uncouth but in my culture this is standard.]

    I'm always concerned when I see gender specific schools. I hear their arguments for segregating themselves but I don't buy it. {Just a few days ago there were a number of articles about the major protest and demonstration at Mills College two decades ago when they wanted to mix the genders.]

    I feel the same way about colleges that try to cater to a specific race, too.

    The way I look at this is how would it look if we opened a college that only allowed white people to apply? Wouldn't look very good, would it? A lot of people would say it's racist--and they'd be right. So why is it acceptable to reverse that discrimination by creating "Black", "Asian", "Hispanic", Male or Female universities? To me discrimination is discrimination.

    Even at your own school you have clubs based on ethnicity. You may title them differently but don't you have some form of Black/Asian/Latino Student Unions? What would be your reaction if someone tried to start up a White Student Union? I know how ticked off I would be and I'm white. I'd be ticked off because I know that it would be racist--just as racist as the others are.

    I'd much rather that we stop looking at people based on their ethnicity or their gender and look at who they are inside. All people should be treated equally. Some of us fought long and hard--and at great physical risk--to secure equal rights for all so it's repugnant for us to see that after we've helped to secure equal rights for oppressed people these very same people want to establish their own form of discrimination against people that are different than they are. They're just as guilty as the people who were keeping them down in the times when segregation was more blatant.

    What do you think, Aiyana?

  4. Well these are historically Black colleges. That’s just what they are. They have traditionally been Black colleges for maybe even a century now. It’s a matter of tradition.

    In my eyes, I feel like these colleges aren’t being discriminatory. There is no law saying that any race other than African-American will be denied. Though we didn’t see any students at these colleges of any other race, there was this video with an interview of a white male attending the school. I think if school was actually in session, we might see some other races at the school. But these colleges are not being racist or discriminatory. They’re just predominately one race.
    No one is stopping White people or Asians or Hispanics or Middle Easterners or anybody else from attending these HBCUs. It’s they’re choice to go or not to go. I think it’s a matter of comfort that makes them decide not to attend these HBCUs. They would be the minority.

    Of course, if an only-white school popped up in America, there would be riots. But if you really think about it, there is no need to open that kind of school. Almost every college in America has a majority of white students over any other race. Does that make those schools racist because they are predominately White?

    I believe that what these mostly one race schools or clubs are trying to do is to give support to the minorities. It’s not a question of equality or discrimination. It’s about support. For instance, with these Black colleges, they give teens who struggled in school, maybe with low grades or low test scores, to still have a chance to get back up, and be successful. As you may know, Blacks and Hispanics are normally on the lower scale of test scores and GPAs. These colleges are trying to give them opportunities.

    At my school, Latinos Unidos, Asian Pacific Islander, Chinese American Student Association, and the African American Student Union allow any race to join their club. And many do. They join it because they have friends in the club, or the performances are fun to participate in, or the activities they do are something they are interested in. There is no discrimination. Sure, some might question why that person is joining, but they all get used to it, and there is no segregation within the club. They are all equal.

    As for the gender separation schools, it’s all about choice as well. People choose to attend these schools for comfort. Maybe they feel more comfortable being around people of the same gender, or maybe they find that there are less distractions. It’s not like they hate the other gender though. It’s just about comfort. And these schools aren’t being discriminatory either. It’s not like there are only just all-female schools in the U.S. and that’s it. No, there are all-male schools and all-female schools.