Monday, March 17, 2008

Portland: I

From Portland

We went to check out the Western Culinary Institute (WCI), where she'll be pursuing a 'Patisserie and Baking Diplome'. It is the first step in what she hopes will be a career in the kitchen. I certainly was there to be convinced that this school was the real deal, so to speak, and not just because I had not yet had a chance to give it the old 'smell' test. Someone had recently raised concerns to me about the credibility of the institution and I wanted to be certain that this was the right choice for Madelaine.
From Portland

Fortunately, the school more than passed any test Maddie had for it. It certainly satisfied me that it is not only a 'real' school, but a good one at that, one capable of giving her the basic training she's looking for and some opportunities to get experience. This she can do both by working while going to school, and in the 'Externship' that comprises the last six weeks of her nine-month education. In fact, we learned that she can do the externship anywhere, so she might even return to Austin for that.

From Portland

The WCI occupies the top two floors of a large building in downtown Portland. It turned out to be only two block from our wonderfully hip little Ace Hotel. The school is also very close to the downtown stop for the light rail trains (MAX) that she'll be using to commute to and from Beaverton, which is where she'll likely live. Maddie had an ear-to-ear smile on her face the whole time that we were in the school. She beamed constantly while touring the six or eight kitchens and prep areas that she'll be using/seeing during her time there. We saw the pastry and candy/chocolate kitchens are where she'll spend most of her time, but we also saw the other line kitchens, where she'll also come into contact with a variety of students of all ages and and from many places.

Maddie? She's scared and excited and yet outwardly calm, as always. She has the ability to compartmentalize her fear so that it doesn't overwhelm her into reversing her decision to do something. From one vantage point, this is called stubbornness, but from another, it can be seen as the ability to focus on a goal. This might seem to many a low-level goal, but I believe that this determinedness turns out to be a very valuable coping skill. It won't be easy, but I believe she will make it. And I'm not just talking about 'making it' in school. Living on her own is another task she faces with seeming fearlessness, though we did in fact do some work to lower, at least, my anxiety level about where she'll live and how she'll get to and from there.

From Portland

The second day, we actually took the MAX out to Beaverton, as recommended by the Katie, the WCI guidance counselor, for a walk-about. We got the numbers for several apartment complexes within walking distance of the Beaverton stop.

From Portland
It looks like a typical 'student-ville' but was clean and seemed to be fairly safe. There is a strip-type shopping mall nearby, with a grocery store, etc., also within walking distance. She might get a bike, but then, I've never known Maddie to be the type to ride a bike very far if she didn't have to:)

From Portland

So, we'll see, of course. First on the list, though, is graduation from High School, and there is no absolute guarantee of that! With the help of her guidance counselor, Ms. Ferris, and her tutor, Claire, plus my efforts now that I am home most evenings, I think we/she should make it. In fact, I am betting on it. Maddie is the type of person who manages to push forward, get up and go in, almost no matter the day or mood. This, though it is not a particularly glamorous trait, is a positive attribute that will serve her well as she figuratively spreads her wings and literally leaves the nest for the first time.

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