Through WCCUSD’s Ivy League Connection program, Hercules High School Students Justine Betschart, Stacy Chan, Ramiah Davis-Shephard, Louisa Man, Julia Maniquiz, and Yueming Wang will be attending Cornell University to either study Freedom and Justice or Hotel Operations Management during the summer of 2009.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 24: Time to Compare & Contrast

Since this my official 5th day at Cornell, I'm finding myself truly adapting to life on the East Coast. While I am still amazed at some of the differences I continue to find (such as the different format of a Pennsylvania driver's license! Small details I find intriguing), I feel like I am finally getting into the flow of Summer College life. I am evening finding simple tasks like making my way to class and awaking at 7:30am becoming perfunctory routines, to my delight.

Today began as every other day has this past week, Julia, Ramiah and I met for a quick breakfast at Appel Commons before heading off to our morning lecture with Professor Kramnick. We were excited for today's lecture because once again, we made sure we understood St. Augustine's and St. Thomas Aquinas' main ideas clearly and thoroughly prior to our departure. Last night required a simple review of the two philosophers along with a few supplemental articles in our course packets. Before I reflect on our lecture and discussion sections, I must reiterate the beauty of this campus and how much I appreciate it's amazing scenery. I thought it would be pretty selfish of me to keep these pictures all to myself and from my gracious sponsors.

After taking my favorite walk of the day, I arrived at McGraw Hall to hear Professor Kramnick note the key facts, themes, and ideologies that today's assigned philosopher's believed in. Ideas discussed included the human condition, God's gift of government, individual, communal, and objective morality, and natural law. All of these ideas culminated into the discussion of Christian Political Thought of Today. After our daily dose of enlightenment, our class broke into our discussion groups and review of the
lecture began. In our first discussion, ideas of timelessness and universality in regards to law were key themes. In order to prove that certain laws possessed these characteristics, our TA, Desmond, required us to apply our possibly universal laws to both modern and past dilemmas. I learned a key technique to determing which laws are both universal and timeless, and that tip is to ask whether or not the proposed law follows the golden rule. Does it represent what both you and the public need? This simple technique already has me feeling like a lawyer in training. That is truly amazing.

After a delicious black bean quesadilla at Trillium, our group made our way back to Goldwin Smith Hall for our second discussion section, during which compared and contrast the ideas of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas in terms of human nature, justice, law, and moral equality. We also received our 30-minute essays from Monday's impromptu writing assignment along with a sheet of comments from Des. Although I felt my essay could have been much better (as every student always believes!), I am glad that Des found my thesis "a compelling idea." That comment alone will motivate me to recreate my rough draft into a compelling essay.

When I returned to my dorm around 3:00pm, I immediately began tonight's large reading assignment (118 pages of Plato's Republic!). I am very happy to say that I have read over 58 pages and am clearly understanding Plato's ideas and concepts. After dinner at Appel Commons with my classmates, I will be attacking the rest of my assignment in order to get a good night's sleep. I am glad I have found such a great balance at Cornell. It seems I have nothing holding me back from succeeding at this prestigious university.

1 comment:

  1. Justine,

    Of course you should share your photos--that way we know you're really there. By the way, that photo of the old three story place with the ivy growing up the side--my place used to look just like that until I did a little bit of remodeling. Realtors tell you never to remodel your place so it looks out of place with your neighbors so I remodeled mine to look like a beat up old cracker box of a house. Now all I have to do is convert my garage into a bedroom and park six old clunkers on the front yard and I'll fit in perfectly, At least I don't have to trim the ivy any more.

    I'm intrigued by this concept of "God's gift of government". Did Professor Kramnick mention which God might have been the benefactor. I'm assuming you have students embracing different faiths and it might get confusing if any one of you were to mistakenly mistake which God was responsible. Holy wars have been fought for less.

    I know I've led a provincial life but this concept is a new one to me. I wouldn't mind reading more about this so I, too, can become more enlightened.