Penn Alumni Regional Clubs Celebrate Ben Franklin’s Birthday

By: Colleen Blair

During the month of January, Penn Alumni Regional Clubs around the world gathered to celebrate Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. This year, in honor of Franklin’s 309th, the Regional Clubs team sent clubs “Ben-on-a-stick” kits to make their parties more festive, and encouraged clubs to enter their pictures in our first annual Ben’s Birthday Bash Photo Contest. Check out the winner and other highlights below!

Ben’s Birthday Bash Photo Contest Winner: San Diego

1 San Diego

The Penn Club of San Diego celebrated on January 17, Ben Franklin’s actual birthday, with a dinner and private tour at the Green Dragon Tavern and Museum in Carlsbad, CA. This stunning replica of Boston’s original Green Dragon Tavern, where revolutionaries met to plan the Revolution, was the perfect place to celebrate Ben Franklin!

San Antonio

2 San Antonio 2 San Antonio (3) 2 San Antonio (2)

Also on January 17, the Penn Alumni Club of San Antonio celebrated Ben Franklin’s Birthday in lively and traditional fashion at Youz Guyz Philly Cheesesteaks, the local shrine to South Philly cuisine and Big Five academics and athletics.  Fifteen alumnae and alumni were joined by family and friends, ranging in age from three to ninety-plus.  All guests enjoyed cheesesteaks, hoagies and other Philadelphia delicacies, topped off by the excellent cannoli and a lively game of Quizzo.


3 Boston1

The Penn Alumni Club of Boston, proud to be Franklin’s birthplace, celebrated on January 17 with a walking tour of the city that featured visits to the sites of Franklin’s homes and haunts in Colonial Boston. After the tour, club members capped off their celebration with cupcakes.

Guangzhou, China

4 China

Ben’s Birthday is a truly global celebration, as shown by members of the Penn Club of Guangzhou. Though located far from Philadelphia, these loyal alumni gathered for a buffet dinner, drinks, and merriment on January 23.


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In Florida, the Penn Club of Miami also celebrated with food and drink at Batch Gastropub. Ben even got his own birthday cake!

Metro NJ

6 Metro NJ

The Penn Club of Metro NJ got the party started early when they met on January 14 at the home of a proud alumnus. Food, drinks, cake and party games were enjoyed by all!

Long Island

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Quakers with the Penn Club of Long Island celebrated on January 22 in style with a four course dinner with wine pairings at Ponte Mollo in Great Neck, NY.

A big thank you to all Alumni Clubs who raised a toast to dear old Ben in honor of his 309th Birthday!

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Five things I love about Penn!

LOVE Statue

By: Kaila Brown

This month will be my 6 month anniversary of moving to Philadelphia and embarking on this crazy adventure! In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to list the top five things that I love about the University of Pennsylvania and my experience thus far.

Five: The LOVE statue

It’s cheesy, I know, but there is something about walking out of Sweeten every day and seeing the statue. My favorite is seeing families, prospective students, Philly tourists, couples, etc. take a picture with the big, bright, red letters. I have yet to do this, but it is definitely on my Penn bucket list.

Four: Locust Walk

I love the way that the path is lined with buildings and centers that look like houses, the way that the trees make it feel cozy. When it’s beautiful outside and students line Locust handing out flyers and advertising for the student groups and events, it feels like a scene right out of a movie. While some may try to avoid it the craziness of these moments, I love it.

Three: Insomnia Cookies

I had never heard of Insomnia Cookies until I came to Penn. I love to bake, but I don’t always have the time. I don’t know about you, but there is nothing I love more than hot cookies. Oh wait, yes there is; having hot cookies delivered to my door. During finals last semester, there was nothing better than being able to order some cookies with my friends to drown our finals sorrows.

Two: Sweeten House

Not only is the office itself beautiful, but so are the people inside of it. I had no idea what would be in store for me when I accepted this position. I had no idea that I would be in an office with some of the most genuine, funny, wonderful people. Working in Sweeten has been a true pleasure and it will always have a special place in my heart.

One: Penn GSE

There were two things that I was sure of when I chose to enroll into the Penn Graduate School of Education: classes would be hard and everyone would be brilliant. I was right. The classes are difficult, and I am continually blown away by my classmates. However, there is so much more that makes GSE an amazing place to be. The interactions and relationships that I have developed with faculty have been truly enriching. I have learned so much in the past couple of months in my classes and am continually excited to go to class each and every day!

I really could go on and on about Penn, and definitely about Philadelphia. There’s one thing that I know for sure, the University of Pennsylvania has stolen my heart! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Penn Alumni Travel, Iberian Trade Routes, 2014

Author: Penn Professor Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, History of Art Department

When our plane touched down at 8am in Barcelona the first thing that I wanted to do was make a beeline to La Boqueria, the recently restored and restocked public market in the heart of the city. Filled with vendors selling raw and prepared foods, glistening fish, octopus, and barnacles fresh from the Mediterranean, and ridiculously indulgent Spanish jamón, La Boqueria is a perfect place to have a quick and hearty gourmet meal, counter-style, so that you can keep on moving and see as much as possible of this amazing Catalan city. We had a lovely plate of foraged wild mushrooms, sautéed in olive oil and topped by a fried egg, a small caña of beer, and some bread before taking in the beauty of the Antoni Gaudí designed Casa Battló.

A cured meat and cheese stand in La Boqueria, the premiere public market in Barcelona.

A cured meat and cheese stand in La Boqueria, the premiere public market in Barcelona.

We had such a fun-filled day in Barcelona that we barely made it to the magnificent MV Tere Moana for our sail away at 6pm that first night. I was very glad that we did arrive in time because the itinerary, which included Mallorca, Ibiza, Granada, Sevilla, Gibralter, the Algarve, and Lisbon, was fantastic.

Of the five different cruise ships that I have enjoyed sailing on as a faculty host with Penn Alumni Travel, the MV Tere Moana was definitely the most elegant and intimate. With staterooms for less than 100 guests, it was very much like traveling on a private yacht. The ship’s charming and well-trained staff attended to the needs of each traveler individually. By the second night Jonny, the bartender knew my preference for a little Tio Pepe sherry before dinner and Macallan for afters, and by the third he was beginning to make suggestions of custom cocktails that I might like to try. And with drinks being all-inclusive, why not?

Our home for the week, the MV Tere Moana, was patiently waiting for us in its berth in Barcelona.

Our home for the week, the MV Tere Moana, was patiently waiting for us in its berth in Barcelona.

Well, the very busy itinerary on this trip was a good reason not to indulge too much. Each day was filled with a morning excursion, lunch back on the ship, and then another afternoon excursion followed by just an hour or two of downtime before a lovely dinner. The tour directors from Gohagen kept everything running smoothly and the local guides at each destination made sure that all our questions were answered, from which medieval people had occupied that fortification overlooking the Atlantic in the Algarve region of Portugal, to where to buy the best souvenirs in lovely Mallorca.

The Portuguese Algarve region is home to lovely old villages and fortifications.

The Portuguese Algarve region is home to lovely old villages and fortifications.

And Mallorca, truly the pearl of the Mediterranean, was the highlight of this trip for me. This was the first time that I had visited this delightful, continental-flavored Balearic island filled with gorgeous nineteenth century architecture and an endless harbor jam-packed with enormous yachts. I could have spent the whole week in Mallorca sitting in cafés, drinking coffee and eating lovely pastries.

Almost as satisfying as Mallorca were the stunning cliffs of Gibralter, alive with wild monkeys and riddled with natural caves and military tunnels. I was surprised by how happy the monkeys made me, they were just so cute and funny and absolutely everywhere — climbing on the parade of minivan taxis that snake up and down the side of “The Rock” ferrying tourists to the various attractions that are only reachable via closed roads. As a part of Great Britain with a special economic status, Gibralter was the spot to get a plate of fish and chips and also the best deals on duty free, which seemed to be the main attraction down at sea level.

“The Rock”

“The Rock”

The monkeys of Gibralter are surprisingly fun to watch.

The monkeys of Gibralter are surprisingly fun to watch.

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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.


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.


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.

Penn Spirit

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.


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!

  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.



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



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


  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)


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.


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.


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.


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


  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!


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.


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!


  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


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


  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.


  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.


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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