Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dinner at Perbacco: Making Connections

A cold yet refreshing breeze overwhelmed me and tousled my hair as I strolled down California Street. Finally, the evening of the Vanderbilt dinner had arrived; it was the last of the Ivy League Connection dinners and was to be held at the lovely Perbacco restaurant in San Francisco.

Our company for the dinner included four Vanderbilt Alumni (Rachelle Soderston ‘04, John Tilsch ‘04, John Labiak ’08, and Tyler Sanchez ’10), three of our panelists from our interview for the program (Mr. Hermann Blackmon, Mr. Don Ellis, and Judge Henry Ramsey), three of our School Board members (Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Ms. Merriweather), Don, our chaperone Ms. Bulls, and our parents.

As we ascended a flight of rich, wooden stairs to the second floor of the restaurant, a kind lady offered to take our coats and hang them up for us. We were to dine in the “Baralo” room, which was essentially a large elegant wine cellar. Bottles of fanciful wine lined the glass cases along the wall, and the size of the room provided for an intimate yet lively dining experience.

I had the opportunity to sit between Rachelle Soderston and John Tilsch, two of the four Vanderbilt Alumni. They both graduated in ’04 and provided great insight on Vanderbilt and their rich experiences there.
As I spoke with Rachelle about her decision to attend Vanderbilt, I learned that I wasn’t alone when it came to what I really look for and want in college. Rachelle had initially attended two other colleges, including UCLA, before settling on Vanderbilt. It was comforting to hear from her that changing one’s mind is perfectly fine when it comes to deciding on college.

I was also extremely interested in the fact that Vanderbilt had a very diverse atmosphere; it attracts many students from all fifty states. It was very awesome to hear John speak about his experiences at Vanderbilt and the amazing, lifelong friendships he made with people from across the country. It was pleasing to hear about how wonderful and open-minded the students are at Vanderbilt; I learned the people are just as significant as the academics when it comes to choosing a college.
I also discovered from John that Vanderbilt offers a study abroad program. Although he chose to not study abroad due to his commitment to other things, such as his fraternity in which he was very involved, he encourages others to take the opportunity to do so because it offers the ability to learn and engage in a new culture and environment.
In some ways, I feel as though our journey to Vanderbilt will be like its own study abroad program. We’ll be exposed to a whole new culture, which includes Southern accents (Rachelle confirmed this with me), and we’ll be right in the middle of a somewhat major city, as John put it, and grassy fields. The fact that we will be learning so much more aside from our World Religions course makes me even more excited to embark on our journey.
It was, overall, a very fine evening. But of course, I cannot forget to mention the food: I ordered the duck breast, which was plated with wonderfully warm, caramelized cherries and fresh arugula. It was simply delectable. For dessert, we had a satisfying chocolate cake (or brownie) alongside a light, sweet meringue. I could only devour half my cake, not because I was afraid of smiling with chocolate unknowingly smeared across my teeth, but simply because it was just too rich for my taste.
I am so honored to have had the opportunity to dine with the Alumni, along with everyone else at the dinner. In their speeches, Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg stressed one of the most important goals of the Ivy League Connection: to make connections. As the ILC has never had students step foot onto Vanderbilt, I hope we did just that.

I want to thank everyone for the wonderful evening. I am very delighted to have met and spoken to such brilliant people, and now, I am even more excited for the time to approach to travel to the great Ivy League of the South.

Preparing for Adventure: The Vanderbilt Dinner "Comeback Kid"

Tonight was the big night—the Vanderbilt dinner—where Julia, Aiyana, and I would be able to sit and mingle with Vanderbilt Alumni and School Board members, while being able to reunite with our panelists who chose us for our position in the Ivy League Connection.

I was ready with my blue suit picked out, my favorite red and blue tie on standby, and the plan to arrive on time to the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station at 6:30 PM. “6:30,”said Ms Bulls, “We are supposed to meet at the BART Station at 5:30.” The race was on, I knew I would not be able to arrive on time, especially seeing that I only had two minutes to be on time and it takes ten minutes to get to the BART station from my home. When I finally arrived I was actually about ten minutes late and two trains had already passed. Ms. Kronenberg and Don took me anyways after I admitted my mistake.

On the BART ride to Perbacco, a restaurant in San Francisco, Don and I had an interesting conversation about the business of heavy industry.

At Perbacco, the food was amazing we had salad with parmesan cheese as the first course, the main course was an amazing duck breast, and finally one of the best desserts I ever had, simply a hot fudge brownie and a melted, burned, marshmallow, which I believe is called meringue.
There wasn’t a massive amount of people at the dinner, but quality beats quantity any day. I was reunited with panelists Mr. Herman Blackmon, Mr. Don Ellis, and the great Judge Henry Ramsey, along with Board member Ms. Elaine Merriweather, yet I spent most of my time chatting with the extraordinary group of Vanderbilt Alumni (Rachelle Soderston class of '04, John Tilsch class of '04, John Labiak class of '08 Tyler Sanchez class of '10) and Don Gosney about various subjects, from the relationship between students and teachers at Vanderbilt, to immigration in this country.
Overall the dinner, in spite of my technical difficulties, was a wonderful experience, I learned the lesson of time management; triple checking arrangements to make sure the information is communicated effectively; I met many influential young adults who are active in our world today; and work motivated by their experiences at Vanderbilt.

Thank you to all including, Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Don, and our guests from Vanderbilt, who were able to make this event not only possible, but a success.

P.S. glad to hear Don and Mr. Ellis made it back okay.