And we’re off! Arriving at El Cerrito High School at 4:00 AM, it was dark and early, and I was up and ready. There, I saw Don already up and about preparing for our departure. He’s always on top of his game, and I expected nothing less today. I’m amazed by how Don operates on a daily basis and doesn’t go mad. Dealing with dozens of kids isn't an easy task.
As each member of my cohort arrived, I was growing anxiously in excitement. Our itinerary was finally becoming a reality. As Don got everything squared away, we were all ready to board the airport shuttle. But before then, we took our departure picture. Squinty eyed from my 3:00 AM wake up alarm, I was doubtful of how the pictures would turn out. And before I knew it, the shuttle was here to pick us up. Saying our last minute goodbyes to our families, we boarded on the shuttle. Here I was, leaving my mother alone for the next couple weeks. I felt a little uneasy at the thought, but knew this was one step towards becoming independent.
I felt like I was flying for the first time. Going through the airport, I was cautiously following each protocol. I was hoping this time would be better than the last time I flew in an airplane. Since I was in the fifth grade, all I remember was feeling a small case of claustrophobia. But lucky for me, I had three seats all to myself. Weirdly enough, I was one of the few people who had row to themselves amongst our cohort. You could say I had maximum room to lounge around. And I also had the pleasure of having the window seat. Although I wasn’t able to speak to anyone at the flight, I’m sure I’ll be able to strike up a conversation with someone soon.
Skeptical about flying, I was very happy to find that I didn’t need to worry. I didn’t feel nauseous or filled with anxiety at all. As we lifted off, I took in the scenery. From up above, I was able to appreciate an aerial view of the city, and the lands that followed. While flying through the city, I could see the clouds that enveloped the buildings. And as we flew through the air, I appreciated the fluff of the clouds. As we arrived to Washington D.C., we were surrounded by the clouds. It almost reminded me of the fog in the Bay Area.
The moment we arrived, I could tell we weren’t on the West Coast anymore. D.C. is a beautiful place; it’s the nation’s capital after all. Setting foot out of Reagan International Airport, I was slightly culturally shocked. The weather is unlike anything I’ve experienced in the Bay Area. I’m lucky enough not to experience humidity and scorching temperatures on a daily basis. I never appreciated California weather as much as I do now. In addition, the architecture here is quite different from the West Coast. As we passed by Georgetown University, its brick buildings are incomparable to the modern buildings of the UC system. And walking down the streets, I couldn’t get enough of the brick buildings, even in places like CVS Pharmacy. Since the West Coast is more frequented by earthquakes, we aren’t as lucky to have such architecture. I liked the colonial vibe the city released; it was like a breath of fresh yet heavy air.
Nothing can get any better. And what a great way to add to the momentum than to visit the University of Pennsylvania tomorrow and see Dyana So, a Pinole Valley alum and undergraduate student at Penn. As a past ILC ambassador herself, she still finds the time to help the program. I’m extremely excited to see more of the East Coast, explore our first college, and meet Dyana once again. Tomorrow will be another jam packed day.