Day 6 - Graduation

Trip Start May 18, 2008
1
7
63
Trip End Jul 17, 2008


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Where I stayed
Taylor's Northridge Pad

Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 6

It was great to finally be in Los Angeles! And I had just crossed the country! It only hit me this morning and not last night as all I had the energy to do was pass out. I was a bit delirious this morning. I skimped on food so I wouldn't have to stop yesterday and I only took one rest break for about 45 minutes. I was exhausted. But Steph took me and Carrie to a neat little place in Westwood for brunch.

Carrie Shaw is a good friend that I met through my work with the Refugee Youth Program while working for the Baltimore City Community College. She recently moved out to San Francisco, CA where she got involved with the SGI and became a practicing member. I invited her down to attend the graduation with me and at the same time she could see her good friend from high school, Steph Stattel who's attending graduate school at UCLA for physics. We had brunch together and Carrie and I split for Soka University, about an hour drive.

Founded on the Buddhist principles of peace, human rights and the sanctity of life, Soka University of America is a 4-year private institution open to students of all beliefs and is committed to diversity in its academic community. It offers an interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum and is founded on the belief that student-centered education is the best way to promote peace and human rights by fostering a global humanistic perspective on the world in which we live. My two younger brothers and several friends attend the school and have graduated from there. Eric is the one graduating after what was apparently 4 hard working years.

It was a great commencement ceremony. The speakers were quality. Dr. Nanda from the University of Denver was great in speaking to the students. Afterwards, I saw many people I knew from past conferences or met through other friends. It was good to see them all there and do some catching up. Many of them are SGI members. The SGI is kind of funny in that it feels like a small family but it definitely is a big network. It's actually a great at home feeling. Although there was one person I had to introduce myself to that wasn't an SGI member. Dr Lawrence Carter of Morehouse College in Atlanta and the first Dean of the MLK Jr. International Chapel is part of the board of trustees and was in attendance. He came to the University of Maryland at College Park, MD to share opening remarks for the presentation of the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Peace Builders exhibit. I was helping out as the event staff group with the SGI when the exhibit came to UMD. As our honored guest, we escorted him from building to building during the opening ceremony. He walked by on one occasion and I was totally unaware, I had a plate of food in my hand - I was supposed to be on duty. I thanked him for coming and putting the plate behind my back. He made a short comment about how neat it was us young men were supporting behind the scenes as he walked by. This time I approached him, without food in my hand, and thanked him whole heartedly for coming to Washington, DC. He said he'd like to come back again and we would love to have him.

I got to check out some of the campus with Carrie. I took a shower and finally got my clothes cleaned. But before that, we had dinner as a family at the ritziest place that our family has laid eyes on. It was called the Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach. It was right on the beautiful water and every bit as ridiculously lavish as TV shows it to be. We had dinner there with the family, Mr. Frank Vittor, our family friend, and Carrie. Dinner was good (but expensive) and I was able to share with everyone the details of the adventure across the country. And congratulate Eric.

We went back to SUA to get belongings and I left for LA. I dropped Carrie off where Steph was. Taylor Roth, the friend that I'd be staying with, said he was hanging out with some friends and that I should stop by. So I did and thanks to Mandy, I found my way. The Yard. There, another buddy of Taylor was having a birthday get together. Allen, also a member, got together friends from different spheres it seemed to hang out at this bar. Instantly, I got to witness the energy of Los Angeles. I finally found Taylor and it was good to see him after so long. He introduced me to his friend Todd who he invited and knew from martial arts. We hung out and talked, and eventually as we were leaving, we decided to get some food and head home. Taylor's got this place in a nice part of Northridge. We went there and crashed.

Miles driven today: 177.5mi

Daniel
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