Locust Walk Talk: Renewing the dreams of past glories

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

Many of you may remember my blog entry over a year ago where I shared with you the story of my rugby team, Philadelphia Gryphons, working on going to Australia, (Locust Walk Talk: What Penn’s Taught Me After Graduation). The anniversary party was only the beginning of this trek. We were able to reinvigorate our alumni and our current players to work together to create that important network of support to bolster the team and to implement new programs.

Good Game

Good Game

The club has implemented seasonal boot camps for new and interested players to learn some basic rugby skills in order to introduce them to a scrimmage with the veteran players at the end of the two hour camp. The board has institutionalized our first Saturday socials, which typically are social gatherings at our sponsor bars to increase the team’s visibility among the community and city; we supplement bar nights with outings to rugby tournaments, marching in Philadelphia’s Pride Parade, and hosting viewing parties for European matches to flesh out our calendar for the year. The fall season will be the Gryphons’ inaugural season for our new recruit/veteran mentorship program. We have initiated Alumni Days, for the first match of the season, to increase attendance at our games. Finally, the Gryphons are working to establish both a day to give back to urban youth and to regularize a Founder’s Day celebration to commemorate the team’s anniversary.

joe and tony

Gryphons at the Anniversary: Joe, GEd’14; Tony, Gr’13; and Marc.

Due to this diligent work, we were successful in getting ourselves off to Sydney – raising over $15,000 to help defray some of the costs of the trip.  Starting yesterday, twenty-one Gryphons, supporters, partners and spouses will start making their way down to Australia for the Bingham Cup. With Anthony Chieco, Gr’17; Joe Ciesielski, GEd’14; Phil Cochetti, C’06; Joe Cruz, C’97, CGS’04, GEX’12; Chris Hatfield, CGS’02; Ted Panczyszyn, Penn staff; Dan Stringer, NU’13, GNU’16; and myself, over a quarter of the team and support staff going to the tournament has a Penn connection. In short, very little of the Gryphons’ success would have been possible without the team’s collective Penn experience.

phil

More Gryphons at the Anniversary: Phil, C’06, and Ken signing the team ball for the raffle

Personally, the Gryphons have been a huge labor of love for me – helping me maintain the work/life balance that we strive for. The team has taught me leadership, patience and perseverance. Most importantly, it’s been the source of several amazing friends over the years – especially during the times in life when it’s typically more difficult to make new ones.

Marching in Philadelphia Pride

Marching in Philadelphia Pride

And speaking of new, you also may know that I am leaving Penn. I’m graduating from my tenure at Penn to go over to University of the Sciences, about 9 blocks southwest of Sweeten House, as Director of Alumni Relations. Founded in 1821, University of the Sciences is a leading science and top pharmacy college in Philadelphia. In fact, it is America’s first pharmacy school. While I’m leaving Penn, I won’t be too far and, as an added bonus, USciences’ president is a proud Penn alumna, Helen Giles-Gee, CW’72, GEd’73, Gr’83. In addition, another teammate of mine, Greg Wallace, PCP’14, is USciences alumnus and I’ve already been cultivating him to return to reunion weekend this year.

Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 rules social media. Anthony, Gr’17, was the 1000th person to LIKE Bingham Cup Sydney 2014. From the Facebook page, “From the looks of it Anthony plays hard! An official Bingham Cup ”Play Hard” T-shirt is coming your way mate!”

It’s been a pleasure sharing my Penn experiences with you as a staffer over the last two and half years. I have already promised to work on my reunion as my 20th comes up in 2015 and I will be joining the Penn Club of Philadelphia. When I settle into my role at USciences, I will approach the interview program about helping out. Lastly, I have promised our communications staff that I will post quarterly on the blog as an alumnus.

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#tbt, Sydney 2005

In the meantime, feel free to check up on my trek through Australia – Perth to Syndey – via stops in Hong Kong and Bangkok at https://tagboard.com/CJinOZ/183930#featured.

This tournament is getting major media attention in Australia. Here are two South Sydney Rabbitohs, brothers Sam and Tom Burgess, who have backed the Bingham Cup and have called for an end to homophobia in sport in Australia. The Rabbitohs are partially owned by Russell Crowe.

Truly Red and Blue,
Casey

Me and Lex Ruby Howe, C’07, WEV’09, WEV’10, GEd’12, my favorite Aussie at Penn. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Casey R., Leaving Penn, Lex. H., Locust Walk Talk, Penn Club of Philadelphia

Penn Museum Lecture Series Returns

Author: Emilie C. K. LaRosa

Every year the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology hosts a thematic lecture series open to the public. This isn’t the first time I’ve touted this fantastic program. As you may remember from my previous posts here and here, last year the theme was “Great Voyages,” and the year before Penn Professors discussed topics on the theme of “Great Battles.” Well this year I’m even more excited about the chosen theme: Great Wonders of the World. Who doesn’t love learning about these mysterious and ancient wonders constructed many millennia ago?

header_programs_greatwonders

On the first Wednesday of every month–from October 2014 to June 2015–a Penn Professor or visiting scholar will discuss a wonder of the world in about an hour’s time. Some topics that I’m particularly interested in learning about include:

The Great Pyramids of Giza (October 1st with David Silverman, Ph.D., Curator-in-Charge, Egyptian Section)

All Giza Pyramids

 

Monumental Geoglyphs of Amazonia (December 3rd with Clark L. Erickson, Ph.D., Curator-In-Charge, American Section)

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The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and its Successors (May 6th with C. Brian Rose, Ph.D., Curator-in-Charge, Mediterranean Section)

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The Great Walls of China (June 3rd with Ph.D., Assistant Curator, Asian Section)

The Quaker sits atop the Great Wall of China during one of his adventures on a Penn Alumni Travel trip.

The Quaker sits atop the Great Wall of China during one of his adventures on a Penn Alumni Travel trip.

Of course, there are many more fascinating topics for you to explore. To learn more about the lecture series or to sign up for one or more lecture, click here. Hope to see you at the Penn Museum this year!

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Penn Alumni Travel: ANTARCTICA: FEBRUARY 9-23 2010

Author: Martha Barron Barrett, G ‘68

[The following are memories from a Penn Alumni Travel trip Ms. Barrett took in 2010 to Antarctica.]

These excerpts are adapted from my recently published travel memoir: Slow Travel: Two Women of a Certain Age-and Modest Means-Leave Home.

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 11, 2010  Marriott Plaza Hotel, Buenos Aires

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The bus tour of the city was fine. We used our room service privileges again–just like the movies of my youth.

(Sandy Lawson, my partner and the photographer, and I had been in Argentina since January 1. After selling our winter home in 2007, we had spent each January, February, and March traveling independently: New Zealand, South Africa, now Argentina. This would be our first tour.  The Penn brochure with a sleek ship, the Deluxe M.S. Le Diamant, floating in an ice-littered sea had arrived Memorial Day weekend.  Monday after our guests left Sandy and I agreed this tour had everything we ever dreamed of.  Tuesday morning I was on the phone to Thomas Gohagan Tours reserving a stateroom to Antarctica.)

We are to be downstairs at 5 a.m. to grab coffee and a snack, then it’s into the air southward. To the ends of the earth, as I wrote to the family. Indeed. High Adventure. At seventy-seven.

FRIDAY M.S. Diamant Room #303

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I strode between rows of white-suited sailors toward an open door. A tall, handsome young man with sufficient braid to be the captain shook my hand and said, Welcome. Inside someone pressed a warm washcloth into my hand–which I found still there when I entered our cabin. A queen bed under two big portholes. I was delighted.

Others had informed us that the passenger lists had only three from Penn and one of those had canceled because their flight was caught up in the Philadelphia snowstorm. So much for the notion of “alumni groupies.” The economy is worse than anyone is letting on.

Outside Le Club, one floor-deck-up, we tried on gift parkas …

At dinner, Sandy and I, the bewildered first-timers, were gently moved toward a partially filled round table of six, to be soon joined by Nicholas, our Russian leader who had told us at the briefing to knock the adjective “soft” off the word “expedition.”

The menu let us know what we would be having for the various courses: soup, salad, fish, meat, dessert. Bottles of wine, French, of course, hovered and we chose either red or white; thereafter our glasses were never empty. Sandy commented on the amazing efficiencies of the huge staff of waiters who presented the food, impeccably, at the perfect temperature, be it hot or cold. …

With a seasickness patch pasted firmly behind my ear, I dropped into a dead sleep.

SUNDAY  Southern Shetland Islands, Sunrise 4 a.m.  Sunset 10:50 p.m.

Noon position Deception Is., where I set foot–both–on the ashy sands of Antarctica, the last or lost, continent.

Wind: Nil force 0

Sea: Calm

Air Temp: 2C (36F)

Water: .5C (33F)

Landings: Baily Head 1:50 p.m. and Whaler’s Bay 4:30 p.m.

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Instructions by the voice of our tour guide drilled through the PA system into our room. At 1:40 he finished with the Green Group and started into the Yellows (us), screwing into our heads the idea that we simultaneously must hurry and suit up yet not arrive in the club lounge too early. I tried to be methodical. Life jacket. How the hell does this thing— Yellow Group! Yellow Group, go to the club. Blue Group, get dressed.

The hall was empty.  Blue group, go to club now.  Dear god. Sandy and I ran down the hall, up two flights of stairs, through the blur of red and out onto the landing. Yellows. We slumped in sweaty relief. No one looked calm. My mouth was dry as a bone.

The line shuffled forward. ID swiped. A flight of perhaps twenty-five white metal steps, railing on both sides, so many things to consider: steepness in these untried boots, grip of silk gloves on railing, plastic tub of disinfectant at the bottom step, rope guide across to the outdoors, and another flight down to the Zodiac. I could see there were two men helping people step up on the side of it and two more inside helping them down. Don’t make a fool of yourself. Okay. Down. Too slow-keep up. Now. Step up. Grab those strong wrists. Down and in. Sit. I reached back and gripped the rope looped along the side. Takeoff might be rough.

Nothing was rough. Not the trip over, not getting out with two competent arms on the other side to steady me. Not walking up the rise. I planted myself like a flag and gazed around at the largest rookery of chinstrap penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula: some 200,000 who stood like small figurines arranged from the black sand beach to the high ridge. …

Boots in hand I entered Le Club and was handed a cup of hot beef bouillion.

MONDAY off Gourdin Islan

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I suspect my remaining life will be divided into pre- and post-Antarctica segments.

Our evening expedition took us out into the ice pack where I actually disembarked the Zodiac to stand on the flat surface of a “table” ice floe. It was moving with the sea and rotating, and the ice pack was thickening; the horizon resembled a city of white and gray block buildings, a nature city. But we are not residents, merely red penguins tromping about on this temporary bit of real estate, taking photos for alumni magazines, driving snow golf balls, shouting like kids at recess. Like the sea the ice will bear no memory of our passing: wind and snow will quickly cover every trace.

TUESDAY Noon Livingston Is.

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Mountains tower beyond a shingle beach. The sky’s responsibility is special effects and it puts on a great show. I could have sat there for hours.

The walk this afternoon (single file) was probably a mile in black sand along the side of a two-thousand-foot high dune. I could not raise my eyes for fear of slipping. We met a line of Greens marching our way and I happened to be first in line. Should I take a step up or take a step down?  I stepped up; at least someone would have a chance to grab me on the way by. I made it without falling, but also without grace.

WEDNESDAY    Wilhelmina Bay 

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Zodiacs. These sturdy, inflatable hard-floored boats have become my favorite way of seeing the shore, up close where my aging eyes could catch the details without having to watch my footing every second. We happily putted along the shore, the guide giving fascinating details about the snow algae and birds and seals. We were riding across the surface of their dining table that held their live eats: fish, krill …

Just finished a room service dinner American style. Our earlier lunch had been a surprise! What a scene for a “barbeque” of sirloin with twenty other dishes. I had two glasses of wine and one of our pastry chef’s beyond-this-world desserts.

THURSDAY Port Charcot 

I feel like a molting penguin today, helpless until my protective coat is restored.  It is about nine-thirty and the ship is deserted. I crave the familiar and silence. This hour up here in the little library surrounded by books, lulled by the orderly passage of time, is untangling knots and loops.

Outside icebergs roam. A small one with the head of a seahorse rides like a forgotten toy in a fancy pool. Inside, a jolt when I see on the stairs men of color on their knees furiously polishing every inch of brass. For me an unresolved enigma. Shouldn’t I be helping?

LATER. Probably overload happens on tours of art, architecture, and poets-of-the-lake-district too-and not only to the elderly. And maybe us older folk have a viewpoint on all this stark and ancient scenery that surpasses the value of what a forty- or fifty-year-old sees and feels. More kinship with the eternity presented by this vast and ageless land.

FRIDAY  Neko Harbor

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A nook of perfection stashed off to one side of a fjord lined with sheer ice-covered mountain ridges.  Everyone (including Sandy) trudged on up the slope. Penguins, as idled by the sun as I, stood silent on ice patches or in run-off streams like retirees cooling their feet on a too hot Florida day. Creaks and groans issued from deep inside the glacier.  A penguin came and stood beside me.

SUNDAY  Beagle Channel 

Placid seas allowed us to land on Cape Horn and I stood atop this storied island gazing toward Antarctica: a fitting exclamation point to a journey to the bottom of the globe. The trip had not been about the ship, the food, the people we met, but what lay over the horizon. Even when I was actually looking at it, or walking on it, a sense of disbelief hovered. What mind can conceive of the earth’s rotation slowing and slowing until it disappears? Who believes in zero?

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[For more information about Penn Alumni Travel and our entire 2015 schedule, click here. Although we will not be traveling to Antarctica in 2015, we will be journeying to Patagonia and Cape Horn, January 21-February 7, 2015. Click here for more details.]

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Throwback Thursday – Printed Directories

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

Today, while looking through some cabinets in our spare office here in Los Angeles, I rediscovered these print directories from the Penn Club of Los Angeles and the Wharton Club of Colorado. I am guessing that with both clubs the last time they produced a printed directory was in 2000, which would make these the “final edition.”

Penn Club of Los Angeles and Wharton Club of Colorado directories found in the Western Regional Office

Penn Club of Los Angeles and Wharton Club of Colorado directories found in the Western Regional Office

 

Now most of our alumni clubs have a website and an online directory, or none at all, instead referring alumni to QuakerNet, the Penn Alumni online directory, to find local alumni in their community.

Does anyone else have copies of old Penn Alumni club directories?

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Our Last Reunion

By Sandra S.

Well, at least that is what George Wills, President of the Class of 1949 called his 65th Reunion when we first met to start planning the event. But after seeing this group of vibrant alumni, I doubt it. The Class of 1949 celebrated fully during alumni Weekend 2014. In addition to a wonderful class representation on Saturday’s Alumni Day, a group of classmates joined together on Friday for a full day of events. They started with a luncheon where Chris Maxwell addressed them and spoke about the benefits of positive thinking. Immediately following this celebration they took an exclusive Mural Arts Tour of Philadelphia. Then after a short afternoon break, they gathered once again for a dinner and movie night. Classmate, Shirley Adelman wrote, “For me, it was a completely positive experience.”   It was so much fun to see the Class of 1949 enjoying life and Penn this spring!

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Penn Serves LA Strikes Again; This Time With Paint

By Leanne Huebner, W’90

Over thirty Penn Alumni and their children joined together for a fun beautification project for El Nido Family Centers in Mission Hills.  We were thrilled that Elizabeth Fields, Julie Gutowski and Kiera Reilly from the Penn Western Regional Office joined us. And we welcomed special guests in town from campus Penn Professor David Grossman, Ph.D., Director, Civic House and Civic Scholars Program, and Katie McCarthy from the Penn Development Office, both lending their painting skills for good.

All in all, the team completed the center’s foyer, a key event room, as well as a hallway in bright white.  The highlight for many participants was contributing to a full wall-sized canvas mural alongside the Pacoima mural artist.  Volunteers brought together her vision for a grand-scale masterpiece to add cheer and interest in the center’s main lobby area.

Stuart Berton, El Nido Board President and Wharton ’61 graduate, thanked the team and provided a great overview of the important work of El Nido, a nonprofit that has served Los Angeles for 89 years.  Each year, the centers reach over 11,000 Los Angelenos  through its community outreach, early education and teen pregnancy initiatives, and gang-prevention programming.  While many individuals come to the center, El Nido social workers are also in the field meeting individuals and assessing families in their homes and schools.

Penn Serves LA's Jane Gutman with El Nido's Stuart Berton

Penn Serves LA’s Jane Gutman with El Nido’s Stuart Berton

A few highlights of their work were shared.  For instance, their GRYD program for gang-prevention has experienced success rates of up to 98% working with at-risk youth.  Their teen pregnancy recidivism rate is 80% lower than the national average, with only 4% of teenage mothers they serve having a second child before they turn twenty years old.

Penn Serves LA's Leanne Huebner is thrilled with the event.

Penn Serves LA’s Leanne Huebner is thrilled with the event.

“We are excited to help El Nido with such a great, enthusiastic group of volunteers,” shares Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16, one of the Penn Serves LA Directors and coordinator of this event.  “And to have David and Katie here from Penn lending a hand makes our day of brightening the facility with fresh paint all the better.”

View all the photos from the day here.

The entire group poses to celebrate a job well done!

The entire group poses to celebrate a job well done!

The next Penn Serves’ event will be Saturday, August 9th from 9 a.m. to noon and you can reserve your spot here.  Penn will be serving LA Waterkeepers in an effort to help identify the impact of debris on our area’s water supply.  “It’s a great opportunity for your science-minded side as we will be surveying and collecting valuable data,” shares Christine Belgrad, W’87, PAR’15, PAR’17, event coordinator.
Many of the past Penn Serves sell out, so please reserve your spot quickly.

Read about our past events:

December, 2013 – Holidays are a Time for Giving

November, 2013 – Sending Holiday Warmth to our Troops

August and September, 2013 – Serving the Environment and LA Leadership Academy

May, 2013 – One on One Outreach

March, 2013 – Habitat for Humanity

January, 2013 – Inner City Arts

September, 2012 – The Midnight Mission

June, 2012 – Turning Point Shelter

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Family Programming, Guest blogger, Penn Serves LA, Photos, Uncategorized, Volunteering, West Coast Regional Office

First-Ever Alumni Coursera Course

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

You’ve watched the promo video

Coursera Video

and reviewed the syllabus. Now it’s time to register for the first-ever Penn Alumni Excusive Coursera course!

500 lucky alumni will join Stephanie McCurry from Penn’s history department for a four-week online version of her “History of the Slave South” course. Beginning October 6, view fascinating lectures, engage, and learn with Dr. McCurry and other intellectually curious alumni through interactive discussion forums and a screen side chat. McCurry is a specialist in 19th-century American history. Her class, taught annually in College Hall 200, is consistently popular with undergraduates and this online version is sure to fill quickly.
 
Click here to learn more or register today! 

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