Perhaps my mom was experiencing some serious jet-lag, she, one who would usually sleep for 48 hours straight if she can, woke up at 4 and couldn’t sleep since then. Even I didn’t hear the wake-up call at 6:30.
We got dressed up, and started heading for a shuttle bus to go from our hotel to Oracle Conference Center, where all the events take place.
The ThinkQuest Live Chant
There were 4 tables setup in the lobby, separated by the first letter of participants’ first name, and about 30 laptop bags at each of them. (Man, I wish I took a picture of that – it looked awesome!) My mom got a t-shirt and a USB stick, and I got an awesome laptop bag (I later found out the price of it to be $100) with a jacket, a t-shirt and an USB inside. (Who was expecting “laptop?)
And behind the registration tables were the breakfast buffet line. To be very honest, the breakfast actually wasn’t so good – especially the scrambled eggs. Well, I enjoy all sorts of food anyway, it’s just that it could have done better.
Anyway, we picked up a plate of food and went inside the auditorium. The auditorium looks really grand, with Oracle posters all around. On the huge projected screens above show a Welcome Message – seriously, those ThinkQuest designs are so good that I don’t think anybody would get tired looking at them.
Soon later, Bernie Trilling, director of the ThinkQuest program I believe, opened with a short speech and introduction to the ThinkQuest Chant:
“When I say ThinkQuest you say Live, ThinkQuest ‘Live’, ThinkQuest ‘Live’…”
Then, following the usual presentation procedure, the staff team was introduced, and then Colleen Cassity, Executive Director of the Oracle Education Foundation, came to make a short speech. I couldn’t really remember what she said though… (pity me)
After that, Al Weis, who was called to be one of the founding fathers of the internet as well as the founder of ThinkQuest, came to make a speech as well, bringing his book “The Business of Changing Lives” (each of us got one, too). ” The line of asking him to sign the book was not long, but since Weis was so kind to talk to each of the participant individually, it took like half an hour – and finally I had to ask my mom to line up for me because I needed to join a preparation workshop for the ThinkQuest Showcase.
Sadly, the Showcase was quite different from that of last year’s (as seen from Mr. Galvin Sng’s Flickr pictures). We had 3 questions emailed to us about 2 weeks before the event, and all we had to do was to watch a video made for us about the website and answer those questions (as if we improvised). Well, it turns out, we did have to improvise. The host, Bernie, asked only one question that was on the email and basically we had to improvise the other two questions ourselves. I prepared for a question, but I couldn’t make use of the answer .
The video was very nicely made, and we got to see some comments from judges on it for the first time; so it was kind of interesting as well. (We kept on looking at the screen when the video played, when we should’ve maybe smiled in the audience ) Each team took about 5 minutes, and 16 teams took about one and a half hour.
After that finished, we started going on to a San Francisco Tour with a Tour Guide. We first went to the Twin Peaks, then to the deYoung museum, the “Thinker” statue for a group picture, the Golden Gate Bridge, LucasFilm Center (where George Lucas works on his films), and at last the Crooked Street, which is my favorite place of all the attractions.
And during the tour, I asked the tour guide for a good restaurant near Fisherman’s Wharf to try out Monday evening, when we each received $30 for a free dinner that we can choose ourselves. He recommended a restaurant called Scoma’s that he said offers a nice amount of food for a nice price. (Check out the next blogpost for how that went!)
A disappointing Surprise
The day then concluded with a rather ironic dinner at a Chinese restaurant called Yank Sing. I was like “WHAT? WE FLEW ALL THE WAY FROM HONG KONG TO EAT CHINESE?!” We arrived earlier than the other groups, and I saw some lion-dancing crew preparing themselves, and I was like… “wow”. I had a feeling immediately that I was going to be disappointed.
And it turns out I was. A lady who seems to be the manager of the crew stood on the stage and told us meanings of each dish, and one of the things included how “fish” symbolizes “abundance”. I was like, wow, this is a perfect dinner to introduce San Francisco to first-time visitors. The lion-dance was in fact much worse than what you can see in streets of Hong Kong often. Well, sure there are a lot of people who haven’t seen this, but I just thought maybe a California dinner would be much more universal… and I believe last year they went to Hard Rock Cafe!
Perhaps it’s just money that’s the problem here. I’m not complaining though, or I think I’m not; I feel lucky enough to be able to join ThinkQuest Live already. I really do!
When we finally got back to our hotel, it was about 11pm. I still haven’t confirmed with the hotel about internet in our room, so I decided I will just sleep, so that I don’t waste $10 just to go online for a few minutes. It was certainly a busy day, but I know more is to come in the next days. I’m already looking forward to my Team Building workshop.
Check back this blog regularly for more photos and blogposts on the next days of the event!