Penn and Wharton Alumni Club of Arizona meet with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

Recently, the Penn and Wharton Alumni Club of Arizona met with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton for breakfast at the law offices of Tiffany and Bosco, P.A.; organized by club Board members Alan Sandler and Chris Kaup, we started with Mike Tiffany and Mark Bosco, the founding partners of the firm, greeting the guests.

As soon as Mayor Stanton arrived, he worked his way around the conference room, greeting each group of attendees.

DSC_4584The mayor began by informing the group that once again Phoenix has passed Philadelphia as the 5th largest city in the US. The theme of the mayor’s talk was “Is the city set up for the future?”

Mayor Stanton reminded us that we are living in an international economy, and the city has an export readiness initiative, creating opportunities for small and medium sized businesses to learn how to trade. A Phoenix trade office has been set up in Mexico; trade will double in 5-years. The mayor also pointed out that Canada too conducts significant commerce with Arizona.

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During the bulk of the presentation, Mayor Stanton reviewed his three major initiatives for the city:

EDUCATION – To ensure that Phoenix continues to provide a labor force that supports business growth, the city needs to work with and support the poorer schools.

WATER – we are in the midst of a 14-year drought, and need to adopt various conservation considerations now. Among other initiatives, Phoenix and Tucson joined in an agreement relative to water sharing issues; which was a major step for both cities.

TRANSPORTATION – The city needs to address and expand the rapid rail system.   Part of this is being driven by the rapid and considerable growth of Grand Canyon University.

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The Mayor kept us interested and smiling, and we enjoyed a lengthy question and answer session following the mayor’s remarks. Before and after, there was plenty of time for networking.

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Top 5 Highlights of the Penn Club of Chicago Holiday Party – Dec 6th, 2014

Author: Katherine Cheng (W’14, C’14)

The Penn Club of Chicago brought the holiday cheer early this year with a fantastic event – the Penn Holiday Party! Attracting around 100 alumni to the Wicker Park- Bucktown area, the event reunited fellow Quakers from all different classes. Thanks to the generosity of Liane Jackson (C’93), who opened up her space, the Free Range Office for the night of festivities, the venue transformed into a Red and Blue/ Holiday/Winter Wonderland extravaganza. I was happy to be a part of the event planning committee, led by Alexandra Leska (C’13) and felt so proud of the immense school spirit and the “go-getter” Penn attitude everyone brought to make the event a total success.

Crowd Here are my 5 favorite highlights from the event (with collage style pics!):

1. Penn spirit

No matter where they have been and how long ago they have graduated (from since last may to the 60s), Penn alums bonded over the commonalities they shared from attending our beloved alma mater. The Penn culture was evident throughout the crowd – as the social, easy-going personalities intermingled and filled the room with laughter and lively conversation. It was heartwarming to see everyone come together like one big family.

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2. Eclectic mix of activities

While cheerful jingles played in the background, alums gathered at the various stations of the room. Underneath the Penn flag was the wine/chocolate pairing table. A Penn-themed photobooth entertained various groups of alumni, who donned the Hey Day hat (probably first time since junior year) for a picture. Alums bought raffle tickets at the entrance for a chance to win Penn memorabilia and other prizes. A piñata hung in the center of the room, because why not? At the back of room was the beer tasting station, with a dozen various types of beer thanks to Eric Wu (W’04) and MillerCoors. It quickly became a popular hangout spot, which Quakers dearly nicknamed “The Beer Garden” at some point during the night. Hey, Penn is the social Ivy after all. Some things never change.

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3. Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies

The main course at the party was a healthy combination of Philly cheesesteaks (provided by Mojo’s East Coast Eats) , hoagies, and pretzels. Nothing better to bring us back to our campus days than a large bite of chopped beef with Cheez Whiz on bread!

Food4. Raffle

Thanks to Laura Foltman (MS ’14) and the Penn alumni office, many people were able to win Penn memorabilia, including an antique Pennpoly 1st Edition game from 1991. There were also some one-of-a-kind prizes donated by alums, including a special architectural drawing by Peter Exley (MArch ’90), a Jazz trio with Eric Williams (C’89), and party space for 50 people at the Free Range Office from Liane Jackson (C’93).

Raffle5. Surprise Piñata!

One of the most exciting parts of the party was the piñata. Several Penn alums were called from the guest list to take a shot on breaking the piñata. The first swing was an honorable effort. We quickly realized that the piñata must have been made from really tough material, since the stick snapped in half while leaving the piñata unscathed. After several tries but to no avail, the final candidate finally ripped it apart, as sweets fell out onto the floor among a lot of laughter from the spectator crowd.

PinataOverall, it was truly a memorable evening, thanks to the alums bringing the great energy to the party. One thing is for sure: once a Penn student, always a Penn student at heart!

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Penn Alumni Travel Galapagos FAQs

Author: Alyssa D’Alconzo, Ed.D. GED’04, GRD’11

It’s been two months since Penn Alumni Travel returned from the Galapagos Islands, but few days go by without someone asking a question about our magical trip. Below are my answers to our Galapagos FAQs. Do you have questions or want to join us for Machu Picchu to the Galapagos in December 2015? Click Here or e-mail PATravel@pobox.upenn.edu!

  1. Where are the Galapagos Islands?

For many people on our trip, traveling to the Galapagos was a bucket list item and, for all of us, it was a trip of a lifetime. But other people I’ve spoken with aren’t quite sure where the Galapagos Islands are located.

This archipelago of volcanic islands is located in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles west of Ecuador. Part of the country of Ecuador, the islands are distributed on either side of the equator.  To reach them, we flew from the United States to Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador.

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Next, we took a small plane to the Galapagos (Baltra Island, to be specific).

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Once on Baltra, we received a warm welcome from our naturalist guides and boarded zodiacs to the National Geographic Endeavour.

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  1. How were the ship accommodations?

The National Geographic Endeavour is an expedition ship and while that means it lacks some of the traditional luxury items associated with a traditional cruise ship (multiple restaurants, televisions in cabins, room service, etc.), it certainly doesn’t mean it’s lacking in safety or comfort. The small, stabilized ship, holding only 96 guests in 56 outside cabins, is fully air conditioned with a small pool, fitness center, cozy library, and lounge with a full-service bar. It’s kept immaculately clean and there’s even a spa — if you can find time to take advantage of it! (See FAQ #3)

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To explore the Galapagos, being on an expedition ship is a great advantage. It carries snorkeling gear, kayaks, underwater cameras, a fleet of zodiacs, and a glass-bottom boat.

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With so many toys and so much to see, you’re not likely to miss the Lido! Besides, you’ll never find a traditional cruise ship with an “Open Bridge” policy like the one they have on the Endeavour.

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An open bridge means the captain and officers welcome guests any time of day or night and are happy to show you how the equipment works and answer questions about sailing and navigation.

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It’s truly fascinating to experience and I loved being in the bridge when we crossed the equator for the second time.

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  1. How physically active was the trip?

Visiting the Galapagos on an expedition ship does require physical mobility, as you’re accessing each island via zodiac and the terrain on each island is different. That said, there were plenty of options for people of all physical ability levels. For example, while there was hiking each day, there was always an option for shorter walks or longer hikes. If you didn’t want to snorkel, you could ride the glass bottom boat. Not up for kayaking? Go on a zodiac ride!

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Your activity level over the course of the week will depend on your ability and interests, but you will not be without lots of options! For example, one of my favorite days was when I completed what I called the “Galapagos Triathlon” – kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking all in the same afternoon! Yet while I was rushing on and off the ship with all kinds of gear, other passengers were enjoying a relaxing afternoon in a lounge chair on the deck or participating in only one or two of the activities.IMG_8428

  1. Could you touch the animals?

The absence of predatory mammals in the Galapagos means that you are nearly always within arm’s reach of endemic species unlike those you’ve probably ever seen before. Sea lions, blue and red footed boobies, finches, tortoises, marine and land iguanas, flightless cormorants, sea turtles, sharks, and many others fill the days and camera memory cards, but physically touching them is against Galapagos National Park rules. The guides ensure that all passengers follow these rules, so that the islands remain preserved for future visitors.

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  1. How were your guides?

Our guides were phenomenal. We had a group of naturalist guides who seemed to know everything about the flora and fauna of the islands and were incredible leaders on our hikes, zodiac rides, and snorkeling and kayaking adventures.

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The work of the naturalist guides was complemented by undersea specialists who shared fascinating video of what was happening beneath the surface of the water. Add in our Faculty Host, Michael Weisberg, who gave engaging lectures about Darwin, evolution, adaptation and speciation, and it was an incredible learning experience!

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  1. How many Penn alumni were on the tour?

There were 14 alumni on this tour departure, and we had a great time experiencing and learning about the Galapagos together! We were all proud to see the Penn flag flying high above the National Geographic Endeavour all week

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and even enjoyed some exclusive chances to catch up and get to know one another, apart from the larger group.

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  1. What kind of camera did you use?

I probably get this question more than any other! I brought a DSLR, a point and shoot, and my iPhone. They all took great pictures, but that’s probably because every Endeavour trip has a Photo Specialist on-board and many of the guides are photo-certified, as well. They’re all very accessible and always looking out for passengers to ensure they get the best possible photos. On multiple occasions guides would make recommendations for my camera settings or photo angles. Their advice proved to be invaluable and I’ve even noticed I take better pictures with my new knowledge (get eye level with the subject!) now that I’m home.

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  1. Would you go back to the Galapagos?

Without a doubt! It truly was a magical trip. In fact, Penn Alumni Travel will be going to the Galapagos again in December 2015. I also can’t say enough good things about our wonderful faculty host, Michael Weisberg, and our tour operator, Lindblad Expeditions. I eagerly welcome the opportunity to travel with both of them again and we’re making plans for 2016 now. Stay tuned for our full 2016 schedule to see when Michael Weisberg will be hosting and where we’ll be sailing with Lindblad. I hope to see you on our next departure!

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No Longer the Old Guard – We’re the SAGES

By: Carolyn Boiarsky, CW’63

When I first arrived in Chicago 20 years ago, I attended several excellent events sponsored by the Chicago Penn Alumni Club, including a lecture at the Oriental Institute by one of the directors of Penn’s Museum. However, over the past decade few events were of interest to me, so last May when the Chicago Alumni Board issued an open invitation to attend its next Board meeting and help with programming, I took them up on their offer.

The result is that a new interest group has been established—The Sages, those of us who graduated in the 50’s, 60, and 70’s. And the Board is now in the process of planning the kinds of programs that are of interest to our generation. Thanks to the encouragement and support of outgoing Club President Michal Clements and some great marketing support from Laura Foltman and the Alumni Relations Office, our first program, “An Evening with Shakespeare” on November 6 was a great success.

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Zachary Lesser

Serendipitously Penn’s Shakespearean scholar Zachary Lesser had been invited to Chicago to make a presentation at the city’s Humanities Festival on the weekend of November 9. He agreed to come several days early to present a lecture for us prior to watching a performance of King Lear at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Luck continued to flow our way for finding a venue. The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre graciously provided us with a space for the lecture in their scenic lobby overlooking Lake Michigan and the giant Ferris Wheel. With the sun setting over the Lake rather than the quad outside College Hall as a backdrop to our lecturer, we studied various versions of some of the passages of Lear from two of the quartos. Our homework: to determine which of the quartos Barbara Gaines, the Director, had used for the final lines of the play. The lines in one quarto are spoken by the Earl of Kent, in the other by Edgar and sometimes a director splits the lines between the Earl and Edgar. Summoning those critical analytical skills that we acquired during our years at Penn, we watched intently as the final lines played out. To our amazement–and amusement–Gaines had split the closing lines three ways-the Earl, Edgar and the Duke of Albany.

HandoutBetween the lecture and the performance, we had dinner at Riva on the Pier, our discussions ranging from Shakespeare to our classes at Penn to suggestions for the next Sage event. While most of us were Sages, we ranged from the class of ’63 to the class of ‘93. Some of us were single, like Esther Hershenhorn ’67, others came with spouses or partners, like Larry Feis, ’80 and his wife Brenda. Among the more recent grads in attendance were Liane Jackson, ‘93, who was recently profiled in the Penn Club of Chicago online alumni newsletter, and her mother and Maureen Buchholz, MBA, ‘92. As we Sages reminisced, the younger members gained some insights into Penn’s history: they had never known there was a separate College for Women or the Pennsylvania News.

And then the performance. The story was made more meaningful by the lecture, and Larry Yando as Lear was incredible. I’ve seen him in other plays, Prospero in “Tempest,” a quite different character from Lear, and he seems to simply become the character.

The evening was fascinating, educational, enjoyable. And the group warm and friendly. I read recently in The Wall Street Journal that those of us who have reached the point of being a Sage are more apt to look for friendships that are meaningful. Penn was a meaningful experience for all of us. It is good to be able to once again find meaningful experiences through that institution.

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Penn Alumni Travel: Flavors of Tuscany

Author: Professor Michael Gamer, Department of English

By its gastronomic and vinophilic nature, our foray into Tuscany with Penn Alumni Travel transcended the usual stuff of tourism. Part of the reason was the location of our base: the Podere Ciona vineyards in the heart of the Chianti region, owned and operated by Franca Gatteschi. Nestled in the hills, the winery really was a rural idyll. The dawns were misty and the evenings (on clear nights) were full of stars. The mid-October weather cooperated and the views each morning were serene:

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Then there was the size of our group: nine of us joined by six alumni from Wake Forest University. Whenever I teach a seminar here at Penn I find 14-15 to be the perfect size: it maximizes the give-and-take of discussion without placing too much onus on any one person. The same went for our Tuscan group; by the end of the trip we all really had gotten to know one another.

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Here you see us on our second-to-last day, in Brolio with the Castello Brolio in the background. Given how much by then we’d done — and consumed — we look pretty good on the whole. There had been the three hill towns of the Chianti Classico region (Radda, Gaiole, Castellina), cheese tastings and Sunday dinners in the Arezzo area, a cooking class in San Martino followed by Monte Sant’ Edigio, the monastery of Saint Francis of Assisi; there had been Cortona and Siena. That night would be the cooking class with the four Tuscan Mammas, and the next day there would be Florence. With the exception of Florence, I had never visited any of these places, and they were wonderful; and, given the difference between Florence in high season and in October, even that city seemed entirely new to me.

What made this trip so memorable for me, though, was our guide, Marco Messina. That the group adored him would be an understatement. Like any great teacher, he brought knowledge, kindness, patience, and humor to the project of showing us Tuscany. But he also did more than that; on the way, we met his family and friends. No matter the town or winery, museum or restaurant, Marco would find a way to lead us backstage:

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From master olive oil, cheese-, and bread-makers to our coach-driver, Fabio, the meetings were informative, memorable, fun, and, above all, genuine. My own favorite memory is the evening we spent at Castiglion Fiorentino — where, after a terrific meal we found ourselves being let into a closed Civic Museum to see Etruscan ruins. Then, as the sun was setting, we were treated to a 45-minute performance of flag-tossing as the sun was setting. Those of us who had been on cheerleading and pep squads finally had the answer to the question of flag- and letter-twirling’s origins — in this medieval mix of martial art and dance.

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I’m hoping everyone else enjoyed this trip as much as I did. Hope as well to see you next year on the Machu Picchu and Galapagos trip!

[Professor Gamer will be hosting the 2015 Penn Alumni Travel trip, Machu Picchu to the Galapagos. Click here for more details or click here to view all our 2015 tours.]

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A Hidden Gem on Penn’s Campus: Neighborhood Bike Works

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By: Amanda Hemmer, D’09

While attending Penn Dental, I would often buy lunch from Rami’s food truck on 40th Street, and enjoy my falafel on a bench lining Locust Walk in front of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. It has been five years since I graduated dental school and coincidentally, I have returned to Locust Walk and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. However, things have changed, Rami’s has been replaced with the Marrakesh Express, and I no longer stay on a bench outside, I actually go into the Church, and downstairs to an organization called Neighborhood Bike Works.

nbw6I learned about this organization through my husband, who became involved with the non-profit after participating in an Adult Repair Co-op at Neighborhood Bike Works called Bike Church. The more we learned about Neighborhood Bike Works, the more we grew to admire this hidden gem on Penn’s campus. The mission of Neighborhood Bike Works is to increase opportunities for urban youth in underserved neighborhoods in greater Philadelphia through bicycling.

The flagship program of Neighborhood Bike Works is called Earn-A-Bike in which youth learn the basics of bike repair and maintenance, safe urban riding, and health and nutrition while refurbishing a donated bike. Students earn the very bikes they learn to repair by participating in the classes. Many of the graduates of the 15 session course continue to work in the shop and earn hours they can trade for more bikes, parts, and accessories, as well as participate in many other more advanced programs such as Race Team, Leadership and Advanced Mechanics Courses, and Ride Club. These programs are free to the participants, ages 8-18.

Neighborhood Bike Works also has a lot to offer the general public as well; they have a shop in the basement of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church where you can stop in and purchase a used bicycle, or get parts, repairs, and maintenance for a bike you already own. They also offer adult repair classes and community outreach events.

This past summer, my husband and I spent four days with Neighborhood Bike Works youth, volunteers, and staff on a four day bike ride called the Ride of Dreams. It is part fundraiser, part youth initiative and entirely a lot of fun. We started our journey at the Church on Penn’s campus and rode to Hershey and back for a total of 250 miles. It was a wonderful experience getting to know the youth and volunteers along the scenic Pennsylvania countryside.

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Neighborhood Bike Works is currently looking for more volunteers, staff and even new board members. If you are interested in becoming involved in this amazing organization that is improving the community around UPenn and impacting urban youth, please contact:

Carol Borek at

carol@neighborhoodbikeworks.org

http://www.neighborhoodbikeworks.org/

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Penn Alumni Travel: Castles and Cathedrals of France

Author: Lynn Marsden-Atlass, Director of the Arthur Ross Gallery

[This post was written during a Penn Alumni Travel trip exploring the Provincial French Countryside. To view our 2015 schedule of tours, click here.]

October 16, 2014

Today we are touring the Renaissance castle of Chenonceau in the Loire Valley. Henri II gave his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, this lovely castle that spans the Cher River.  It reflects perfectly the Renaissance style with beautiful paintings, tapestries, furniture, painted ceilings, and floor tiles executed by Italian and French Renaissance artists and workmen.

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We began our journey last Thursday in Toulouse, one of the great pilgrimage destinations during the Middle Ages with two exceptional examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the basilica of St. Sernin and the cathedral of St. Etienne.  Today Toulouse is a center for commerce and college students – Airbus builds their planes here, and the cafés in the place St. George are full of people enjoying a coffee or an aperitif talking to one another. Face to face. The square buzzes with voices. No cell phones in the café.

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In Albi we visited their remarkable cathedral, and the Palais de La Berbie that houses the museum of Toulouse-Lautrec, and gardens.  A native son, Lautrec is esteemed today for his lithographs and posters.  He designed these for his friends who were Montmartre’s performers at café-concerts, at the Moulin Rouge, or for Aristide Bruant at Le Mirliton. Scandalous outliers, such as La Goulule and Jane Avril, gained notoriety and fame through Lautrec’s posters.

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Our medieval pilgrimage continued on Tuesday with a visit to Rocamadour. This is a  superb site set in a breathtaking valley with a deep river bed. The houses are built vertically on rock. Above those the church with its famous Chapelle de la Vierge noire (black virgin) is perched, and above the church is a castle.  We climbed 262 steep steps to reach Rocamadour’s churchyard. Eleanor of Aquitaine climbed those same steps on her knees!

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Sarlat is one of the Dordogne’s picturesque towns whose specialties include mushrooms, confit of duck, walnuts, and foie gras made from duck or goose liver.  We enjoyed touring this town, its church, and Bishopry. Some of us paid special homage to the local geese in the “Place des Oies”.

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On our way to Saumur, we paused to admire Chinon, the castle of Charles VII. A 16-year-old Jean d’Arc traveled here after having a dream that she must assist Charles VII. Jean d’Arc later defended her King in battle, before being burned at the stake.

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The Loire Valley is resplendent with castles everywhere. In the 16th century King Francois I settled in the Loire valley surrounded by his court. Francois I brought Italian artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, to France to decorate his castles in the new Renaissance style.

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The Penn Alumni on this trip are fantastic. Smart, enthusiastic, curious, with a good sense of humor, our band of seventeen has a wealth of knowledge in all disciplines. The camaraderie of the group is especially lively in our bus conversations and over leisurely meals that feature great regional specialties and wines. Vive la France!

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A bientot,

Lynn

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