Cornell program a worthwhile venture

By Erica Eisen

Editor’s note: Erica, a La Jolla High senior attended a six-week summer program called Telluride Association Summer Program. Here’s what she has to say about the program.

It was a hot day in June as a trundled my overstuffed suitcase across Cornell’s tranquil campus and up the lawn of the large brick dormitory where I would be staying for the next six weeks. As I got nearer, the people who had already arrived and moved in swarmed around me, introducing themselves and offering to help me with my bags.

They came from all across the world and, despite the vast differences in culture and experience, we were all united by one key feature: the intellectual passion that had led us all to apply to and be accepted for the Telluride Association Summer Program.
TASP is a summer program for juniors who are thoughtful, intellectual and community-oriented. Both TASP and TASS, the companion program for sophomores, are free, and the Telluride Association is fully willing to pay for travel and to give a stipend if an accepted student would otherwise be working.

The rigorous application process includes four essays and an in-depth interview — the most thought-provoking and intense one I had every had.

And the work didn’t stop when I got my acceptance letter: At TASP, we all participated in one of two seminars, which lasted three hours each day (mine was on intergenerational justice) and asked for around 55 pages of reading each night. We were also asked to write essays, and each of us had to prepare a 20-minute speech to give to the group. These ranged from such topics as the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, modern art and the nature of philosophy. In addition, almost everything was democratically decided upon, so every Tuesday night there was a lengthy parliamentary-style house meeting over how to spend our generous budget and what events we would organize.

Yet despite the mammoth amount of work required, I can truly say that TASP was the best experience I have ever had, and I highly recommend any interested sophomores and juniors reading this to look into either TASP or TASS. After we’d finished the day’s work, my fellow TASPers and I would stay up all night talking, playing games and taking midnight walks around Ithaca. The emphasis placed on community meant that in the six weeks I spent there I made lifelong friends and got to know people there better than most of the people I’ve been going to school with all my life. It is an experience that I will treasure my entire life long, and I hope that by writing this I give the same opportunity to another lofty-minded La Jolla junior as well.

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