So -- early Tuesday morning I departed SFO for New York City. I arrived in New York early enough to check into my hotel (the same one that the chaperone, Cheryl Lilhanand, is staying in) and then head off to meet the Columbia troops at Circle Line -- where we boarded a 2 hour New York City harbor cruise. It was quite spectacular -- the evening was warm but clear (and dry) and we had a wonderful time learning about the city. My favorite trivia question: how many restaurants are in the Big Apple? 18,000+
After the cruise, we took the students back to Columbia before curfew check (strictly enforced at 11:00 pm) and then Cheryl and I headed out to dinner at Nonna's (recommended by her son, Brian -- a great recommendation -- known as a "little gem" on the Upper West Side).
Wednesday we headed out for breakfast and a "planning meeting" and then met with Dawn Marvino and Darlene Giraitis (meet her here: http://www.ce.columbia.edu/multimedia/HS_InfoSession/2008/hsp-videos.html).
She shared a story about how Pfizer has underwritten 60 scholarships this summer:
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/newyorkstories/summer.html - unfortunately, it has been difficult to fill all the spaces and many have gone unfilled. This speaks to how difficult it can be to effectively organize this type of program. It takes a level of commitment uncommon to most bureaucratic organizations to be successful.
Darlene has been in charge of the program for the past 20 years and grown it from 90 non-residential students to 2,000 residential/non-residential students. She is expanding it to include not only Barcelona (as it includes today) but soon Jordan (at the King's Academy -- modeled on Deerfield Academy where the King of Jordan is an alum -- see this link for more information: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/08/29/africa/ME-GEN-Jordan-Kings-Academy.php).
Darlene is very impressed with the Ivy League Connection and shared that it is the only program of its kind at Columbia. Columbia has very strict rules (which are scrupulously enforced) to keep its students and classes secure. No access is granted to any non-students.
After meeting with Dawn, we were told by one of the office workers that a student from El Cerrito who is attending the program asked if he could qualify for a "scholarship". We learned that, although he lives in El Cerrito, he attends Berkeley High School. Unfortunately, he is ineligible unless he transfers back into El Cerrito High School.
Dawn and Darlene were both very warm and cooperative and Darlene mentioned posting a picture of our students on the Columbia website. Wednesday night we went to the Tribeca Grill (http://myriadrestaurantgroup.com/tribecagrill/index.html) for our "special dinner" -- we all loved it -- from the duck, salmon and filet to the sorbet and creme brulee -- it was truly a New York speciality (thanks to Ms. Lilhanand's daughter-in-law, Bernadette's, suggestion).
Today, Thursday, I wound up driving from LaGuardia Airport to Ithaca (it took about 4 hours) after my plane was "rescheduled". I met with Abby Eller, Program Director here at Cornell, as she interviewed serveral of our students. Abby was happy to have us back and very supportive of our approach and program. After that meeting, some of the students joined Tiffany and me at Starbucks and then went to dinner at Appel with all the rest of our contingent. Then I returned by little Pontiac Vibe and headed here to catch up on my blogging.
That's it for now -- over and out from the field.