Paolo Alcantara

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Paolo Alcantara

Post  Paolo Alcantara on Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:24 pm

A Week in Harvard University

“Congratulations! You are accepted by the People to People International to attend leadership training in Harvard University!”

This was shocking! I never expected that after a long series of selection, I would be chosen to be one of the representatives of the Philippines in a week-long leadership summit in, I believe the most prestigious university in the world, the Harvard University.

Nervous and excited. These were the two things I was feeling during the 18-hour air travel, which was very tiring, I tell you, from Manila to Boston. Nervous because, for one, it was my first time go out of the country and second, I was totally alone. Who would believe that a sixteen year old like me (at that time) would dare to fly abroad all by himself? On the other hand, I was more of excited for the new experiences I would learn in the next days. I just hoped People to People International (PPI) wasn’t fake and not inclined into selling students for say, sex slavery or whatnot.

Tired but still excited. I could already feel the atmosphere of Boston, cool and fresh, just when I arrived in Boston Airport very tired, seemed like I had a boxing session with Pacquiao because my whole body hurt real hard, but somehow, excitement still ruined my emotions. A few minutes after my arrival, I saw this man in Americana and PPI ID lace holding a piece of like 30 inches by 10 inches paper with my whole name printed on it. He was the driver who sent me to the organizers after I proved him I was the one he was waiting for. I felt like being a VIP for the driver let me feel like one, from being polite [and calling me ‘sir’ all the time] to carrying all my baggage into the car. Since it was night at that time, I was able to witness the elegance of the city lights of Boston with modern buildings and the beauty of some old and classically-architected ones. There, from the driver, I learned that Boston was one of the oldest cities in the USA.

After being interviewed and oriented by the PPI organizers, they took me to the Harvard Dormitory which would be my home for the next seven days. The dorm was different from what I expected! It was not old and haunted (like what I think dorms were in my high school days), besides it was like a five-star hotel with its classy façade, neat environment, and big rooms. They let me stay in room 217, the only left vacant room in the 2nd floor since all the participants were already in. They just gave me a beef-burger and a slice of pizza and then left me in the room with its own toilet, television set, and a wide view of the outside. The next day would be the formal start of the training program.

I woke up an hour before the schedule of breakfast. The foods served were good - American foods like fries, pizzas, burgers, breads, etc.; all were unlimited. We got to know other participants on the first day. It was my first time to see people of different races in just one gathering! We were almost 200, half from the USA, some from Europe and Asia, and a few from all other places. Talking with other participants was enjoying! I learned a lot from their culture and I made friends with many of them. Only one thing bothered me! I couldn’t get what others say, like Singaporeans who speak English but had their own accent, which was terrible!

The summit all happened in Harvard Law School. It was such a great pleasure for me to have training in the school, where many US Presidents graduated, like Obama and Bush. We had a tour in the university and one thing that caught my attention was one classroom scene I saw. It was like a conference room, with all students having their own laptops, and a professor only seen in the projector.

During the seven-day program, foods were always unlimited. I liked it at first, but regret it the next days. They were just serving American foods! You know, I didn’t like eating burgers and pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday!

After seven days in Harvard, I flew back in the Philippines with a lot of lessons learned and experiences. Yes, it was only a week, but the memories will stay a lifetime.

Paolo Alcantara

Posts : 10
Join date : 2010-11-27
Age : 26

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Paolo Alcantara

Post  Paolo Alcantara on Thu Jan 20, 2011 4:59 pm

2009-07424

Travel Piece Second Draft

A Week in Harvard University

“Congratulations! You are accepted by the People to People International to attend leadership training in Harvard University!”

This was shocking! I never expected that after a long series of selection, I would be chosen to be one of the representatives of the Philippines in a week-long summit in, I believe, the most prestigious university in the world, Harvard University.

Nervous and excited. These were the two things I felt during the 18-hour air travel, which was very tiring, I tell you, from Manila to Boston. Nervous because, for one, it was my first time go out of the country and second, I was totally alone. Who would believe that a sixteen year old like me at that time would dare to fly abroad all by himself? On the other hand, I was more excited for the new experiences I would learn in the next days. I just hoped People to People International (PPI) wasn’t fake and not inclined into selling students for sex slavery or whatnot.

I could already feel the atmosphere of Boston, cool and fresh, just when I arrived at the airport with my whole body aching real hard. I was fetched by a man in an Americana and PPI ID lace holding a piece of, I guess, 30 inches by 10 inches paper with my whole name printed on it. He was the driver who sent me to the organizers after I proved to him that I was the one he was waiting for. Since it was night at that time, I was able to witness the elegance of the city lights of Boston having modern buildings and some old-looking and classically architected ones. Right then from the driver, I learned that Boston is one of the oldest cities in the USA.

After being interviewed and oriented by the PPI organizers, they took me to the Harvard Dormitory, a few meters away from the university. The dormitory was not old and haunted like what I thought dorms were in my high school days. Besides, it was like a five-star hotel with its classy façade, outstanding architecture, and unusually big rooms. They just gave me a beef burger and a slice of pizza and then left me in a room with its own toilet, television set and a wide view of the outside. From the room, I could see Harvard’s maroon buildings - some were tall, some were not, but almost all were old-styled.

I got to know other participants on the first day. We were around 200 – half from the USA, some from Europe and Asia, and a few from all other places. I learned a lot about their culture and I made friends with many of them. Only one thing bothered me. I couldn’t get what others say, like Singaporeans who spoke English but had their own terrible accent!

Different personalities in the field of public service delivered their speeches and lectures to us in Harvard Law School on the second through the fourth day. Some of them shared inspiring personal experiences; some discussed proven leadership tips. One line to summarize it all – leadership is not a privilege but a responsibility that requires love and passion.

We had the opportunity to tour around the university on the fifth up to the last day. We walked through the Harvard Yard, where most of the buildings were positioned. We entered different buildings and all of them had computers everywhere which were open to all students and guests for internet surfing. One classroom I saw was like a conference room with all students having their own laptops and a professor only seen in the projector. In the center of the campus was the statue of John Harvard, wherein, according to tradition, people who want to follow his path must touch his left foot. Without further ado, I did.

According to our guide, some classes there have only one student, while some could reach up to 900. “Nearly a thousand?,” I almost collapsed. We also visited the Widener, the centerpiece of the Harvard University Library with, please don’t collapse, over 15 million books!

It was such a great pleasure for me to have training in the university, where people of brilliant minds graduated from, not to mention some US Presidents like Obama and Bush. After seven days in Harvard, I flew back to the Philippines with a lot of lessons learned and experiences encountered. Yes, it was only a week, but the memories would surely stay a lifetime.

Paolo Alcantara

Posts : 10
Join date : 2010-11-27
Age : 26

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