Monday, June 1, 2015

A Titan One Last Time

I love the ILC community. I'm always greeted by a beaming smile followed by a tight warm hug or firm handshake. Today was no exception. I arrived at the orientation with my mother beside me. We made it with just ten minutes to spare as we turned into the Pinole Middle parking lot. I beamed a smile when I spotted Stephen and Helen, excited to see them a week after our pizza date. As ecstatic as I was to greet them once again, my eyes were searching the crowd for some other members that evening. Two minutes before the meeting started, the Hercules Titans started filing in one by one. I handed Shanti my dad's aloha shirt and our small group of Titans grinned from ear to ear. We each barely got in half a sentence before Don's voice boomed through the speakers and we took our seats.

Don introduced the evening by pointing out a few 
All seated and listening.
alums and briefed the topics we would discuss that evening. I didn't even notice how fast the dates were flying by until Don noted that today, we are official ILC members. The time has come to just pack our bags and flop on the couch until we get the phone call to meet up at El Cerrito. Yet Don never fails to remind us that our ultimate goal is to share the story with every living soul we meet one we return. I think my biggest issue may be keeping my mouth shut.

Afterwards, the Chaperones came forward to share a few words with the families in the room. This wasn't the first time all the chaperones were gathered together. At the School Board Meeting the chaperones gave a speech, but I had an epiphany seeing all the chaperones standing shoulder to shoulder; there were a lot of Hercules teachers chaperoning. The excitement was bubbling in my chest when I spotted the pink flowery patterns printed on my shirt.

The Cornell Cohort Classroom
We split into our individual cohorts, each group occupying a classroom. Chan-Law handed us some forms to fill out and ran though a rough outline of our trip. Although the students in our cohort had an earful at the pizza diner, parents were booming with questions. In the midst of discussing the intricacies the buffet styled breakfast and dinners at Cornell, Chan-Law was interrupted by Don poking his head through the door. Our cohort let out a simultaneous chuckle. We all lost track of the time.

Upon returning to the room, Don didn't spare a second before diving into the loner gear. My mom continually nudged my elbow, urging me to take notes and commenting about our home inventory. I thought was the professional of the loner items after the Orientation earlier this year, but Don pulled out fans, lamps and other goods from the table to share. Finally, we got through the last item and question. The evening was over.

Well, for all except the Titans of course.

The moment the crowd stood up to observe the loner items or rush through the door, the titans packed together at the front of the room. We gathered all the bodies, grinning ear to ear at our similarly fashionable attire. Finally, we crowded around Don in our assorted collection of aloha gear, ready for the snaps. 

I've got two amazing families inside the ILC group-- the people in my cohort and from my community. Tonight is the last night we meet with all the other groups and I'm glad that I got to represent Hercules. The aloha gig started out as a form of appreciation for all the hard work Don put in to make this opportunity possible, but the attire also shows the unity of Hercules. The ability of our group to coordinate and take pride in a small tradition is what makes me honored to be a Titan.
Hercules Titans rocking the aloha look with Don.

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