Monthly Archives: September 2012

Penn Serves LA: The Midnight Mission

One Volunteer’s Perspective from Inside the Kitchen Looking Out and Up:  Penn Serves LA: the Midnight Mission

By Leanne Huebner, W’90

Frankly speaking, I was quite unsure what to expect as we approached the Skid Row address of the Midnight Mission for our second Penn Serves LA Event. My ten-year old son John and I joined 15 other local Los Angeles Penn alumni at the Mission to serve lunch to the homeless. Penn Serves is a new initiative to encourage various Los Angeles alumni to serve together in community service activities at established local nonprofits. The downtown-based Midnight Mission is the longest continuously operating nonprofit in Los Angeles serving the homeless. While I knew it would be an interesting experience, little did I know how much I would observe in just a few short hours.

Justin Gordon, W’05, Snehit Neenakri, GEN’09, Terry Baris, C’84, Irene Park, C’05, Christopher Regan, Trisha Fowler, C’89, Cheryl Miller, Ian Davis, Alexa Ebner, Elizabeth Kopple, C’94, WG’99, Denise Winner, W’83, Leanne Huebner, W’90, John Huebner and more all serve.

Our team was first greeted by an articulate, middle-aged man named Ryan, who would serve as our tour guide. Ryan first showed us the outdoor courtyard (no larger than 40 feet by 80 feet), where more than 100 homeless sleep each night literally head to toe. Some individuals have been sleeping there consistently since the courtyard’s opening in 2005. Our guide shared that some homeless are steadfastly resistant to accepting help of any kind and how it is an accomplishment in itself just to get the homeless to sleep in this enclosed courtyard with its heated lamps and security. Ryan understood the mentality of this population as he then shares details of his own recent stint with homelessness as a heroin addict. Thanks to the Mission and its programs, he is now on his way to living a clean, healthy life and hopefully reconnecting with his 6-year old daughter.

Ryan informs us of the root causes of homelessness. Of the 51,000 homeless in L.A. County, the Mission has found that roughly one third of them suffer from mostly-untreated mental health problems, while another third have abused alcohol or drugs. The final third have simply fallen on hard economic times. Centers like the Mission look to help in any way it can serve this population. Currently, the Midnight Mission is serving about 90,000 meals a month, its highest rate since the Great Depression.

Next stop was the Multipurpose Room where approximately 200 people sat on metal folding chairs with eyes pinned on two 30’ inch television screens. Minus the sound of the TVs, you could hear a pin drop but I discounted that observation as a huge interest in the particular program. We then pass by their small barber shop where volunteer beauticians regularly offer free haircuts and their small library where the homeless can feel comfortable checking out books. Next, we visit their gym where the residents of the Mission are required to participate in physical education regularly. Here, residents play league basketball against corporate teams and the L.A.P.D.

After the tour, we head off to work, as the lines were forming outside for entrance. We are told to expect to serve 700-800 meals over the next hour or so. The sheer amount of meals served is always larger at the end of the month, because many of the homeless’ SSI and disability payments would have been depleted by now. Ryan shares that 64% of the homeless whom qualify for government assistance do not actually receive it.

Ian Davis, Snehit Neenakri, and Christopher Regan preparing tomato sauce.

Penn alumni, now costumed in hair nets, latex gloves and aprons, head off to man the cafeteria line for an inviting meal of beef macaroni, corn, salad, yogurt, and bread. My son John and I head with a few other alumni inside the kitchen to open up hundreds of tomato sauce and Snapple cans. John finds his nitch dumping Snapple in a large pot next to another kitchen helper, who later compliments him for working hard.

10-year old John Huebner finds his job.

Restless, I meandered over to check out the front line. The line for food was long, straight and orderly with at least 100 people waiting every time I peeked. Several would re-enter the line for seconds and thirds. My normally cheery self just wanted to smile at each to offer a bit of joy but very few would even make the eye contact to accept the warm gesture. Only one in ten actually even spoke, one volunteer calculated. Several just pointed and grunted to where they wanted the food placed. The room was somber.

The lunch line staffed by Penn Alumni.

Shifting from kitchen to the line, I again noticed more lack of talking and interacting as the homeless stood in line, gathered their food and poured over their free meal. How could a few hundred people be in a room “enjoying” a meal with little to no conversation? I was comparing the noise level to that of my sons’ school cafeteria – which is quite loud despite being half this room’s size. The lack of conversation and camaraderie reflected the fact that these people are in survival and existence mode; perhaps they just didn’t want to connect even with each other. The streets are tough places to live; I suspect there are many social norms that would differ greatly from mainstream society. Perhaps, silence is one of those norms. Why draw attention to yourself when, according to one study, nearly 43% of homeless suffer from physical attacks using a weapon?

My personal highlight was interacting with a team with the men working inside the kitchen. Each kitchen helper was currently living in the Mission and this job was part of their path out of homelessness. Midnight Mission has a 12-step program to self-sufficiency, and I could feel the power of the program working right there at that moment. These kitchen workers were noticeably happier, with the value of having work for their hands that day. We joked over the hamburger sliders donated from a “fancy restaurant” as we contemplated why they called them “sliders” in the first place. One worker shared how he looked forward to finishing the program and hoped to find a job in food service. The head kitchen worker joked that he wanted to be in our photos and how he wants us to come back again.   In the brief time I was there, all of these residents were respectful, hardworking, and very appropriately funny. You could tell they enjoyed each other’s company and were grateful for the extra hands from us.

As part of their contract with the Mission, each resident agrees to be clean of drugs and alcohol, work at the Mission, and complete the 12-step program. When appropriate, some even pay a $200 rent in apartments at the Mission as residents prepare for the outside world. “Let’s make no bones about it.  This program is rehab. It is not fancy Hollywood-like or Malibu-beautiful, but that is what it is. And this is the last stop for these guys,” shares Ryan, “They either make it or they don’t.”

The stark difference between the men preparing the food (all formerly homeless) and those on the other receiving line was quite remarkable and noteworthy to me. From my novice eye, the difference seemed to be the hope for the future and the knowledge they now were on the path made possible by the privately-funded Mission. Perhaps the difference also was the fact that inside the kitchen the men had purpose – soup to stir in large vats, large metal trays to wash, plastic cups to fill and extra napkins to find. By the time lunch was finished and the alums prepared to leave, the kitchen staff was already planning and talking about the dinner responsibilities.

My fellow volunteers and I shared that we couldn’t help but thinking our own problems paled in comparison to those of the individuals we fed and met that day. The average stay inside Midnight Mission is 18 months, whereby approximately two men graduate each week, or roughly 100 men a year. Seeing the difference between those within the kitchen and those accepting the food demonstrated to me the power of intervention programming. The Mission is and has always been funded 100% by private foundations and individuals. If only we had more Midnight Missions in the world.

Thank you to all the Penn Serves volunteers for the Midnight Mission. We hope you will serve again for the next event. Thank you to Denise Winner for arranging our group’s participation at Midnight Mission for Penn Serves LA.  Contact pennservesla@gmail.com for future events or if you want to get more involved. 

To read the post about the first Penn Serves LA event, at Turning Point Shelter in Santa Monica, click here.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Clubs, GAN, Guest blogger, Penn Clubs, Photos, Volunteering, West Coast Regional Office

The Right Audit-tude

Author: John Mosley, C’13

This time last year, I was taking a class called Modern Political Thought. The class included a group of about 8 or 9 seniors auditing the course, which was a new concept to me. Throughout the semester, the auditors posed some of the most fascinating discussion questions to the professor which often led to a deeper understanding (for me at least) of the texts and documents being studied. Since that class, I have hoped to see many more of these senior auditors as I progress in my studies. Last spring, no seniors appeared in any of my classes, but this fall, I was glad to see a senior auditor seated in the front row.

I immediately sat down next to him  and began telling him what to expect from the class. The auditor was very polite and eager to begin. However, when the professor facilitated the first open discussion of the semester, the auditor seemed reluctant to participate, citing the fact that, as an auditor, his role was simply there to “take it all in.” I was disappointed. The auditor refused to participate for the entire class and, unfortunately, has not appeared for a class since.

From what I can see as a student, the senior auditing program is a wonderful way for members of older generations to impart new wisdom and new points of view to undergraduates. The Modern Political Thought class was one of my favorite experiences at Penn thus far, and that is primarily due to the auditors, who applied their combined years of experience and studies to the subject matter and in doing so added a new dimension to the class, which was lauded by the professor. I guess my message is this: to any applicable alumni reading, PLEASE AUDIT CLASSES!

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Locust Walk Talk: Never Far Away from Penn

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

I was on vacation this September, going to Scotland and Wales, with my parents.  The idea of the trip started to form soon after my vacation with them to Ireland last year.  By June, my parents had purchased their flights into the UK via Manchester, and I sent my deposit along for the hotel rooms. Then, I needed to get my tickets to Europe.  I was planning to cash in some United Miles for the trip – all using the least amount of miles and dollar for airport and landing taxes – and I put together a trip from Newark to Manchester via Stockholm and a return trip from Dublin to Philadelphia via Boston.  I needed to buy a flight from Manchester to Dublin separately. In the end, I had one funky itinerary. However, in total, my tickets cost about $130 in fees and 60,000 frequent flyer miles. That’s the beauty of travel – what you lose in succinctness, you gain in adventure.

The ship, Vasa, in the Vasamuseet – Stockholm, Sweden.

Two weeks before my trip, an invitation to an event in Greece triggers an e-mail from Athenian alumna who has relocated to Stockholm.  She wanted to know how to start a club. Since I had a long layover at Aranda, I thought that I should at least meet her while I was in transit  (you never take a vacation from alumni relations; you just don’t answer e-mails as quickly).

Manchester City Hall – Manchester, England.

We had a lovely breakfast meeting, taking in the Swedish cinnamon rolls, kanelbullar, with coffee. We talked about the over 100 alumni in Sweden and over 50 in the greater Stockholm metropolitan area. We shared ideas about how to reach out to them and what might be of interest to the regional Penn alumni. I gave Stephanie a bag of Penn goodies to sample with her follow alumni in the city when she had her first gathering. We also talked about the Olympics, since I had mentioned that I wanted to see the Stadium from the 1912 Games.  She suggested where to go to see some of the very Swedish sites.  I ended up choosing the Vasamuseet, the Stadion and the Stadshus, and Stephanie walked me down to the Vasa Museum for an impromptu tour.

Edinburgh Castle, prepped for the Tattoo which ended a few day prior – Edinburgh, Scotland.

After Sweden, my itinerary took me to Manchester, Edinburgh, Inverness and Glasgow.  I visited the Manchester Art Gallery, the Royal Mile, Loch Ness – looking for Nessie, Urquhart Castle and the Lighthouse.  On my second morning in Glasgow, I join my parents for a Scottish Breakfast – complete with haggis.  I wore a Penn shirt and I didn’t realize it until one of our fellow diners asked if any of us were connected to Penn. For those who don’t know, my brother and I went to Penn undergraduate and my mother took classes and works for the Health System.  So, we all proudly owned up to being a Penn family (my dad chimed in that he was proud to sign the checks for my tuition).

The Glasgow Cenotaph and City Chambers at night – Glasgow, Scotland.

Maureen had just been in Philadelphia about two weeks prior dropping off her daughter for her first year at Penn – living in Harrison College House.  She was excited for her daughter and was looking forward to getting engaged in all that Penn has to offer parents.  In finding out that Maureen lives in Phoenix, I gave her my business card and let her know that there is a Penn and Wharton Club of Arizona located in Phoenix that welcomes the parents of Penn students.  As I said, you never take a vacation from alumni relations.

My dad and I in front of the Norman fortifications within the grounds of Cardiff Castle – Cardiff, Wales.

My trip continued via England into Wales, with stops in Llandudno, Cardiff, then back to Manchester and finally Dublin.  After a busy trip, I landed in Boston and walked into Logan. There, I met up with Melissa Wu, C’99, member of the Penn Alumni Regional Club Advisory Board.  We had found each other through Foursquare and Twitter. We spent just a few moments catching up before I had to run and change terminals for my trip back to Philadelphia.  We bid farewell, promising to reconnect at Homecoming.

Monument of Light (a. k. a. Spire of Dublin) as seen from Mary Street Shopping area – Dublin, Ireland.

Exhausted, I poured myself into my seat on the airplane and relived the fantastic trip in my mind – noting how many amazing Penn people I met along the way.

The dusk sky at Logan Airport – Boston, MA.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Casey R., Locust Walk Talk

Waking Up

Author: Lisa Niver Rajna, C’89

My father, who is also a Penn grad and the reason I traveled from Los Angeles to Philadelphia for college, often says, “Sleep? I can always sleep when I am dead, there is so much to do.” I recently realized that this quote actually comes from Benjamin Franklin! He said, “There will be plenty of time to sleep when you are dead, life is for living. So wake up and perform.”

Our wedding.

This year, George and I are traveling in South East Asia exploring, wandering, and waking up! This is not a year of sleeping through the same life or same job. We have been away from America for nearly three months so far. We are currently in Bangkok discovering how to acquire a visa to spend my birthday in Myanmar.

George and I met online, but we really clicked because of Myanmar and the Schwedagon Pagoda. When I mentioned to him that it was my favorite place, he was intrigued. He had to meet a fellow traveler who loved the temples and culture of Burma. And now, nearly six years after we first met, we will be there together for my 45th birthday.

Please join in my birthday celebration by donating to the Jewish World Watch Solar Cooker Project for Darfur refugees. In the 45 days before I turn 45, I am searching for 45 people to donate so that 45 families will have solar cookers and more safety in their daily lives. Together, we can help many families leave their refugee camp in search of firewood and fuel, without fearing harm.

In Mongolia.

 After a long journey full of peril from Darfur in Sudan, people arrive at the camps in Chad, traumatized after losing homes, family members, and any concept of safety into a bureaucratic jungle with only tarps for creating a new shelter. Having given up my home by choice this year to travel with my husband, I hope to help others feel cared for no matter where they rest their head. Please use this link to donate . Note that your donation is in honor of me and JWW will keep track of the money we raise together. Thank you for making a difference today. More information here.

I hope that in the new school year and the Jewish year and for my 45th year, that you will not “stand idly by” or sleep your year away. Listen to Ben Franklin and wake up, perform, and participate!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Lisa N.R., Volunteering

Philly Arts & Culture Fair

Author:  Lisa Marie Patzer

This Friday is the annual Philly Arts & Culture Fair at Penn.  The line up of art vendors from around Philadelphia is impressive.  Here are my personal top 10 from the list of over 40 participating organizations:

Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Arthur Ross Gallery

Arthur Ross Gallery

ICA

ICA

In Liquid Art and Design

In Liquid Art and Design

International House

International House Philadelphia

Kelly Writers House

Kelly Writers House

Live Arts Fringe

Live Arts Festival

Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum

Painted Bride Art Center

Painted Bride Arts Center

Philadelphia Orchestra

Philadelphia Orchestra

If you are on Penn’s campus this Friday between 11 AM and 1 PM, stop by the Wynn Commons to learn more about Philadelphia Arts Organizations.

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Filed under Lisa Marie Patzer, Philadelphia, The Arts, Top Ten, Uncategorized

Konnichiwa, Penn

Author:  Rebecca Eckart, GED’13

It’s almost the end of September.  I can’t believe how quickly time has passed and how much my life has changed since I arrived at Penn as a new student.  It’s been a whirlwind: in less than a month I’ve moved into a new apartment, made new friends, begun a new course of study in the Graduate School of Education, and started exploring a new city.

I’m from Ohio, but I came to Penn from Japan.  I worked there as an Assistant Language Teacher through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).  I was placed in a small mountain village in Gunma Prefecture, about three hours outside of Tokyo.  I went to Japan intending to stay and teach for just a couple of years, but I loved my school and the local community so much, I ended up staying for five.

During my fourth year there, I decided to pursue a Masters in Higher Education when I came back to the States.  I considered a lot of different schools in the Midwest and on the East Coast, but I was looking for a place that had strong international connections in addition to a strong academic program.  The large international student population and the renowned education department were just two of the factors that drew me to Penn.

I applied to Penn, was accepted, and decided to attend without once being able to step on campus.  When I finally did make it to Philly, I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and green the campus was.  And I was also thrilled because I knew this was a place I could keep my experience in Japan a part of my life.  I’ve been able to make some international friends and discuss education in their home countries.  I’ve found a language exchange partner through Penn’s English Language Programs.

I’ve been to some Japanese restaurants that I’ve found while exploring the campus and University City.  I’ve even found a Japanese supermarket where I can get some of my favorite foods.  But perhaps most of all, I’ve found Penn to be a very welcoming community, which celebrates diversity and encourages communication and friendship across cultures.

My program at GSE is just nine months long.  I know that the time will be gone before I know it, but I’m so excited to be a member of this community, especially my GSE cohort.  This is a place I can share my past experiences and build my future.

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Still Worrying, But Less So: A Retirement Perspective from a 1967 Penn Alumnus

Author: Howard S. Freedlander, C’67

It’s now the end of year one of the rest of my life.

Mostly removed from a life filled with 10-hour work days and sporadic fits of worry during off-hours and vacations, I’m beginning to enjoy retirement. Now, I worry about not worrying—a bit strange and maybe a bit worrisome to my wife.
I have a part-time job as a consultant for a business consulting/government relations firm in Annapolis, Maryland. I even have a client, which this former bureaucrat actually brought to the firm. I work hard to bring new business to the firm through my extensive contacts. I dare say I hardly qualify as a rainmaker.

Volunteer activities have kept me busy, particularly my 45th University of Pennsylvania reunion. As class president, I approached my duties as a job, conscientiously calling and emailing classmates to attend our reunion and to contribute to our reunion gift. We exceeded expectations for a “minor” reunion like the 45th. Somehow, my job as class president seemed like more fun than my obsessive approach as a deputy treasurer in Maryland. I still worried, constructively, I believe, about meeting and hopefully surpassing goals.

Dennis Custage and I during the 2012 Commencement.

And, I did something else in my hometown that surprised me a bit. I joined a men’s club, where I eat lunch at least twice a week at a common table populated by 12 of us. At Penn, I belonged to a fraternity; for nearly 45 years I claimed no similar affiliation. Dealing with hours of leisure time, marked by several hours a day of quiet—a bit disquieting to this extrovert—I needed stimulation. And that’s exactly what happened. Political conversation can be difficult at times but bearable.

My wife continues to work. I like that. She’s earning money, and I like that too.  Sometimes my daughters call, periodically for advice, often to see how I’m doing as a mostly content retiree. I appreciate their interest. They don’t talk long, understandably. They accept questions and advice in small chunks.

I worry about my wife’s impending retirement in perhaps 18 months. My approach to chores will change dramatically: I actually will have to do more under more consistent supervision. Seriously, my wife, once unchained from her job, will change my retirement. I will have to negotiate daily and perhaps disagreeably. I worry about the new dynamic when my wife is the house boss for the entire day, not just at the end of the day. I may have to find a full-time job to avoid household responsibilities.

Overall though, since retiring, I sleep better. My temperament is more even. I listen better, though my wife might disagree. Life is pleasant, uncluttered by anxiety of work-related deadline and crises.

My transition to retirement has been easier than I would have imagined. Friends and family thought I might have trouble adjusting to free time, a life without work and its intrinsic mental intrusions on your non-office hours. I too wondered if depression would replace obsession. As I discovered, I enjoyed leisure, time alone and my hobbies such as volunteer activities. I have adjusted to the absence, for the most part, of “bold” actions and activities driven by work demands.

Don’t get me wrong. Retirement can also be a challenge. I worry about my mental acuity; my work-induced sharpness seems dulled by lack of work-related engagement, intellectual challenges. I worry about physical degradation despite my twice-weekly workouts, which, in some ways, points out problems with balance, flexibility, and strength. I worry about continued good health, due to inability or perhaps unwillingness to lose significant weight. I think about family medical history and flinch a little.

Retirement brings with it obvious worries about aging and loss. You quickly realize as you look at your friends that time is limited. As you spend increased time with grandchildren, you realize that it might be unlikely that you will attend their weddings, or observe their college years. When I look at my two daughters, both in their thirties, I realize that they will be carrying the family legacy and interpreting it however they wish. They will talk about their parents in the past tense. They will grieve as I still do my parents and grandparents.

As I view life as someone approaching his 67th birthday, at least I still have the capability to worry, hopefully in moderation, and produce results, both personally and professionally. Life moves on to a new chapter, the last part of the book. Retirement allows you to be creative and write your own narrative, without work as the major plot line. You control the outcome, in a way.

With little prodding, I realize that retirement is another challenging passage, a time to view possibilities and probabilities with a healthy combination of positive thinking and realistic expectations. While it is a time to do as you wish (dependent on good health), it also is a time to enjoy what you have, not merely your material possessions, but your relationships with family and friends. Not since my college years have I had the time and energy to focus so entirely on relationships.

With Alice Murdoch Dagit ,CW’67, Reunion Chair and Class Vice President for our reunion this past May.

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Junior Year is Here

Author: Jonathan Cousins, C’14

It’s hard to believe that half my time at Penn is already over, but I feel that these next two years will be even better than the first two.

When I applied to Penn, I visited in December and witnessed the final project of MEAM 410/510, Mechatronics.  The last class project was Robocky, an autonomous, 3-on-3 robot hockey tournament.  The final presentation involved a packed Wu and Chen Auditorium and cheering, loud music, and a festive atmosphere.  When asked “Why Penn?” on my admissions essay, I used this tournament as the perfect fusion between school and sports, my two passions.  Now, after two years, I am taking Mechatronics. And it is hard! We are currently running through a electronics/mechanical design crash course, soon to be followed I am sure by a low-level component programming crash course.  But even as this class begins to consume my time, I have my eyes on the prize – the hockey tournament at the end that is sure to be a blast.

The rest of my classes pose a less daunting task, but by no means a negligible one. I am engrossed in the study of Fluid Mechanics and Vibrations, in addition to working in parallel on the MEAM lab course. I am also concurrently writing a paper on my summer research through the Rachleff Scholars program.

And, if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I am incredible active in the Red and Blue Crew, the student spirit organization on campus and the student section at Penn Athletic contests. We did a lot during NSO – including a late night ice cream social with the basketball team where we gave out ice cream and t-shirts, and tried to prompt student interest in Penn Athletics.  We also gave away our cool new shirts at the Penn Athletics picnic and the Activities Fair.  It is already starting to pay off, as the number of people on campus with either Red and Blue Crew or Penn Athletics shirts has gone up dramatically.  Now if our football team can give a good showing on Saturday, we may have them hooked.

Also during NSO, I was an Orientation Peer Adviser (OPA!) for incoming MEAM freshman.  Over the summer, I  communicated with them via email about how to prepare for Penn and which classes to register for, and then I met with them twice during NSO to show them the Engineering buildings and lead them around on their academic NSO day.

And so it goes – I am incredibly busy, but everything I am doing I am enthusiastic about and can’t wait for what I am sure will be a memorable semester.

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Remembering Eiseley

Author: Patrick Bredehoft

One could not pluck a flower without troubling a star.  ~Loren Eiseley

A few months ago, I picked up a copy of The Star Thrower, an extraordinary collection of essays from one of my favorite nonfiction authors: Loren Eiseley.  In reading W.H. Auden’s introduction for the book, I was surprised to realize that Eiseley and I have something in common–we both worked for the University of Pennsylvania.

Of course, those careers are hardly parallel. By the time Eiseley died in 1977, he had earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from Penn, along with 36 honorary degrees from other institutions. In fact, he is the single most honored member of the University of Pennsylvania since Benjamin Franklin: he was Provost from 1959 to 1961, and the university subsequently created an interdisciplinary teaching position for him, eventually named the Benjamin Franklin Professorship– a precursor of today’s PIK professors (http://makinghistory.upenn.edu/pikintro).  He is the author of more than a dozen works, each of which is anthropological in theme, universal in scope, and lyrical in tone.  Reading an essay by Eiseley always reminds me of the first time I read Thoreau’s Walden, although Eiseley offers far more scientific grounding and his words more easily quicken my spirit.  My father first shared his copy of The Unexpected Universe with me when I was twelve years old, and Eiseley provided me with my first windows into the astonishing field of anthropology: a study of human experience that is political, historical, biological, paleontological, geological, cosmic, and in Eiseley’s case, intensely poetic.

In re-visiting Eiseley’s writing and reading more about him, I learned that he and his wife are buried in Bala Cynwyd, in the West Laurel Hill Cemetery.  Recently, I drove out to the cemetery, and after a long walk over many hills (the grounds sit on 181 acres), I found his tombstone under a big ash tree.  On a humble semi-circle of stone, Eiseley and his wife Mabel have a brief epitaph that pulls a line from his poem, The Little Treasures: “We loved the earth, but could not stay…”

My life and Eiseley’s never overlapped–he died three years before I was born–but he has been a profound contributor to my love for the earth, for science, and for humanity’s small but special place in the cosmos.  I’m proud to be part of a university whose history includes minds like Franklin’s and Eiseley’s, and I hope that for however long I stay, I can contribute to that noble tradition of exploration.  I know I still have a long way to go in the service of that effort, but as Eiseley once wrote, “Man would not be man if his dreams did not exceed his grasp…”

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Travel Webinar: The Arts and Culture of Spain

Author: Emilie Kretschmar

Penn Alumni Travel is hosting a travel webinar this Thursday on the art and culture of Spain. Join us on September 20th at 11 a.m. for a look at Spanish art and culture hosted by Professor of Art History, Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw. For more details or to register, click here.

Next month, Professor Shaw will lead a group of Penn alumni and friends through Spain. The tour will stop in Barcelona, Bilbao, Pamplona, Toledo, and Madrid. Penn alumni will explore these beautiful and vibrant cities in the company of fellow alumni and their faculty host. Whether you’re traveling to Spain or just curious about travel to Spain, Thursday’s webinar is a great opportunity to learn more about the country and to ask questions about its arts and culture. General travel questions are also welcome.

Barcelona, Spain

If you’re interested in learning more about Penn Alumni Travel, click here for more information about our e-newsletter, to review the 2013 schedule, and to see pictures from past trips.

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Filed under Alumnni Education, Emilie, Penn Alumni Travel, Travel, Uncategorized