Negotiations and Conflict Resolution
Summer College 2017
My name is Alfred, and I am a rising senior at Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut. I grew up in Xiamen, China but have been studying in the states for five years. This summer, I will be a part of the Introduction to Negotiations and Conflict Resolution course. Academically, I enjoy French very much and recently returned from a school year abroad in Rennes, France. I am also an active participant in many interscholastic debate tournaments. Away from school, I am a freelance photographer - focusing mainly on portraiture - and videographer. I also enjoy music and play music: I am a novice jazz pianist and an er-hu (a Chinese two-stringed instrument) player. I look forward to an enriching experience at Cornell!
"Let's try this turn." After three loops around North Campus, I finally spotted the "red-shirts," who I would later come to know as my RCAs (Residential Community Advisors). I took a deep breath and stepped out of the taxi, marking the official start of this three-week journey. The orientations were efficient yet light-hearted. Not only did I get a glimpse of the multitude of extracurricular activities offered here, I was able to meet my professor and my fellow classmates in my program: Negotiations and Conflict Resolution.
Five days of class went by in a flash. It was intense. It was interactive. The professor condensed what is normally taught in a semester into five days. Imagine that. What fascinates me the most about my course is the opportunities we are given to sit face-to-face with my classmates and participate in simulated negotiations derived from the professor's past experiences. The fact that my professor still actively mediates cases locally gives us a modern view of the industry along with its pros and cons.
Over the weekend, I went to Collegetown with my friends and got Korean food and bubble tea. Collegetown is nestled just south of the Cornell campus. The chic local restaurants and convenient shops make it a popular hang-out spot for Summer College students. Lastly, I took advantage of the flexible college routines and planned nice long naps to recharge myself for the week ahead.
One last note: beginnings are never easy, and Cornell is no exception. What smooths the transition into Cornell for me is its full integration with nature. Unexpected, right? The gorges, the flowers and the hills that I passed by on my first day—and every day since then—provide every Cornellian—even Cornellian wannabes—with a sense of serenity and security that one rarely finds in other prestigious institutions. One week in, I already feel at home.
p.s. Whether you are here at Cornell or are planning to come here, make sure to check out the view in front of the Uris Library. Jaw-dropping.
Before I even realized it another week has passed; the countdown has begun. Fortunately, the second week involves much less asking for directions and looking confused all the time. Everybody seems to have found his or her own Cornellian way of life. I found my own in breakfasts at the bus stop bagels, lunches at Trillium, and billiards after dinner at RPCC. The twenty-minute walk to class that used to resemble a hike has turned into a nice chunk of time for self-reflection in the morning. Finally, I feel like a host rather than a guest here.
In class, we covered mediation which is considered an extension of negotiation. Everybody feels a lot more at ease as we understand the class expectations and are putting our best foot forward. In addition to interactive simulations, we watched a couple videos in which professionals demonstrate how a mediation is conducted in real life. Within short two weeks, conflict resolution transformed from an elusive concept, to practical skills I can apply to all walks of life with facility.
The weekend started with the talent show. My favorite act was definitely the guy who performed martial arts; he truly captured the essence through his emphatic gestures and deep howling. Knowing how frightening it is to merely stand in front of a huge crowd, I truly respect the performers' courage to show a somewhat personal side of themselves. On Saturday morning, I went to the Ithaca Farmers' Market and indulged myself in some nice souvlaki gyros and Kombucha; that same night, I ate at the Commons with my friends and got rolled ice cream. Satisfied.
As the cliché goes, "time flies." This is not new. What is new is the people we meet, things we see, and problems we conquer along the way. Cornell has given me all of the above, and for that I am grateful.
p.s. Cornell has the most phenomenal sunsets. On my walk back to the dorm each night from Olin Library, I literally walk backwards in order to savor the view—the shades of purple in the clouds makes up the kind of cinematic background found in romantic tragedies. Oddly enough, no matter how many times I try to capture the beauty with an apparatus, none suffice. Perhaps only our actual presence deserves such an exclusive view.
Check out my mini vlog of our trip to the Ithaca Farmers' Market.
It has been almost two weeks since I left Cornell, where I spent a mere three weeks of my Summer. Humans have a natural tendency to forget things, especially those that are trivial and mean less. That is not the case with Cornell. It has claimed its place in my heart and will do so for a good long while.
At Cornell, I was exposed to a field that I might never have gained exposure to until I was working in the real world: Negotiations. I made friends that are self-driven and inspiring on their own. I got to go to the Cornell Dairy Bar three times for their famous orange soda float. Always considering myself a city guy, I did not expect the village life to be so endearing and memorable. Back among skyscrapers and restaurants that outlasts daylight, I often zone out to the little world of its own in Ithaca. Cornell is not for everybody. It is for those who appreciates nature, good people and dedicated professors. If these are the things you are looking for, then come and make yourself home. Three weeks are exactly 504 hours in our life. It's as long as we want it to be, and as meaningful as we make it.