I’d like congratulate the ILC on earning the Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association, which is reflective of the profound impact Mr. Ramsey, contributing members including sponsors, and its prospective college students have had on exemplifying the drive to enrich the college experience for us students in the public education system. Being one of the members of the 2009 ILC Cornell Group, I am proud to acknowledge that the experience has benefitted me here at UC Berkeley greatly in terms of broadening my views. So far the journey at UC Berkeley is certainly too broad to be necessarily categorized and captured in three paragraphs, but then I did so accordingly into these three groups: academics, political activism, and the Cal Marching Band.
After completing my first semester at UC Berkeley, I felt this inexpressible, liberating feeling unparalleled to anything before, a moment in which as Kant puts it my “nonage” or inability to understand was replaced with this boldness to learn more and further enlighten myself. I am more ambitious than ever to learn and grapple as many other UC Berkeley students do with the issues we face. With a semester down, I’ve completed four courses which were comparative politics, economics, European history, and social welfare which ultimately all tied together to help understand what’s been happening both domestically and abroad, and to analyze them to a depth unfathomable to me before. In the following spring, I am enrolled in more related courses in addition to Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich’s popular course “Wealth and Poverty,” which surveys the public issues that has grown to the shocking magnitude of social unrest seen across America, and even on the steps of our Sproul Plaza.
One of the things Berkeley has truly embodied that I love and support is Berkeley's political activism, and the need for us to be the agents for progressive change, whether it be contending public policies such as SB 185 with the UC Republican’s Diversity Bake Sale to publicly rejecting “81% Fee Hikes” with Occupy Cal (Cal’s Day of Action). These social movements and the public outcries are created by the very students I see and pass by everyday, not the politicians from Sacramento or professionals who do this for a living. The students here carefully observe the current events around us and translate the very divisive issues into forums for public discourse, which materialize in the small discussion sections to the halls all over campus.
With the fee hikes, UC Berkeley’s students launched themselves onto national news, even luring in the political pundits such as Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, while collectively fighting for what students vied for as affordable education, social equality, and a reformed society. When thousands of students at Sproul Plaza listened to Professor Robert Reich during Occupy Cal (Cal’s Day of Action), I realized that this mission of UC Berkeley is truly what it stands for, and that indeed the words of Mario Savio as Professor Reich referenced to has certainly continued to live on here.
[R. Reich @ Occupy Cal] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HF6mznFrJI&feature=related
Lastly, the best experience thus far has been the Cal Marching Band. As a trumpet player among a band of 250 strong, we as bandsmen take pride that we represent the university, and accept the motto that whenever we take the field, highstepping through the rugged mud or frigid rain, we always represent who we are and what this institution is. I am proud after every game to watch our performances and know that the band is one of the best in the West. Over the break, we’re heading down to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl in a great opportunity to represent the school against the Texas Longhorns, so the band as well as the football team has exceeded my expectations.
[Teen Angst Show @ AT&T] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyLlsn5U3EA
So I hope that wherever the current students in the ILC program decide to go, make it your new home and embrace all the opportunities it offers. In choosing UC Berkeley, I have certainly through only one semester found my second home not far from the first, and look forward to the next several semesters working here at the bay in the years to come.
Once again, thank you to Mr. Ramsey and the ILC Program for giving me the opportunity as well as to many others, and hope to hear more success from the program in the coming years.
-Andrew J. Woo