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Penn Club of San Diego Goes South of the Border for Street Eats

By B. Bea Rajsombath, C’99, club president

There are a lot of great things about living in sunny San Diego, including over 70 miles of beautiful coastline, the nice Mediterranean climate, pockets of diverse neighborhoods with their own vibe, mountains or beaches within miles of each other, great restaurants and bars, its proximity to Tijuana, and so much more.

The Penn Club of San Diego works on creating events and activities that feature the neighborhood gems and life in San Diego; events any of our alumni can appreciate, whether they recently moved here or are returning natives.

In November 2013, the Club joined Turista Libre for a wine tour in Valle de Guadalupe. Based on that successful and fun adventure, we had requests to organize another event south of the border. As Turista Libre (TL) focuses on organizing tours highlighting the local aspects of Tijuana and surrounding areas, we worked with them to deliver another event for our alumni. Passports in hand on March 22, Penn alumni and friends met up with TL at San Ysidro, the last US stop before reaching Mexico, about 15 miles south of San Diego. We were joined by a few other TL guests to walk across the border to board a small school bus operated by TL to start our adventure tour: TJ Street Eats.

Penn Alumni and friends

Penn Alumni and friends

We started our day with a birria taco from a busy food truck stationed on a non-descript street by a Staples. It was simple, yet bursting with flavor. A cheese quesadilla was offered to our vegetarian guests. The tacos were so delicious most of us wanted more, but we were advised by TL to limit ourselves to the one because we had a number of stops to make. A few of us couldn’t hold out though and had to try a second taco.

A birria taco

A birria taco

Our second stop was at Kokopelli’s food truck, for black Harder ceviche de lenguado tostada. Our vegetarian guests feasted on grilled Portobello mushroom tacos. At this point, more guests were losing their willpower to hold off on just one item and explored some other offerings from Kokopelli’s. A few also ventured to try a seemingly, innocent pink-colored salsa…and suffered through the burning from a habanero-beet mixture. TL also offered up some Tecate beer for refreshments before we headed to our third stop.

A tostada

A tostada

Before we reached Tio Pepe, a wonderful bottle of tequila was shared. Some of us are still searching for the bottle on this side of the border. Tio Pepe is a neighborhood gem with plastic tables and chairs, friendly staff and a bustling lunch crowd. I would love to go back…if I can find my way there! Here, we sat down to enjoy Guadalajara-style torta ahogadas, a few rounds of Corona and some ventured off to order additional tacos. I don’t know where they found room.

Torta Ahogada

Torta Ahogada

After indulging ourselves, we still had two more stops! The next was at Tepoznieves, an artisan ice cream parlor with more than 100 flavors. Unfortunately, I was too busy sampling the flavors and enjoying my selection of three small scoops to capture any photos to share. On the way to our last stop, another bottle of tequila was brought you to be shared. Finally, we made it to Baja Craft Beers for a sampling of house brews. We essentially had the place to ourselves so early in the afternoon. The brewery had great space and a long list of local and international beers available.

Baja Craft Brewery

Baja Craft Brewery

Alas, our great little adventure came to an end by 5pm and TL returned us to the border to make our way back across to the US. We definitely enjoyed our TJ Street Eats tour and working with Turista Libre again. We already have requests to repeat both the wine tour and the TJ Street eats.

The Penn Club of San Diego and Turista Libre

The Penn Club of San Diego and Turista Libre

These are just a few of the activities and events the Penn Club of San Diego organizes for local alumni in the greater San Diego area. If you are interested in learning about these and other events, please contact us via email, join our email listserv, like our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

Our next event is a yPenn Happy Hour on July 10th. We hope to see you there!

 

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Seattle Alumni Put on Aprons for an Evening to Help Alleviate Poverty

By: Haley Shapley, C’06

Thanks to a little help from the Penn Club of Seattle, at least one person will be able to transition from the streets to a job in the hospitality industry.

It was all part of Guest Chef Night at FareStart, a culinary job training and placement program for homeless individuals in Seattle. Since 1992, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 7,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving more than 6 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children.

The tables are set for FareStart's Guest Chef Night, with Penn Alumni Club of Seattle members as guest servers.

The tables are set for FareStart’s Guest Chef Night, with Penn Alumni Club of Seattle members as guest servers.

Each Thursday evening, prominent guest chefs come to work with the students as part of their 16-week food-service program. The three-course meal is served by volunteers, which is where Penn alumni came in.

Chef Sam Hassan explains the evening's menu.

Chef Sam Hassan explains the evening’s menu.

Although none in the group had any restaurant experience to speak of, on April 24 we got a crash course in the art of serving, learning the importance of checking back within two bites, refilling waters regularly (and not touching the rim of the glass!), and how to properly carry a tray. Chef Sam Hassan of Maple Falls Cafe provided a tasting of the Mandioca Frita, NW by SE Pasta, and Mango Raspberry Cobbler beforehand so that we’d be able to answer questions about the ingredients when guests inquired (Just what is yuca? Ask us; we know!).

The featured servers tonight - the Penn Club of Seattle!

The featured servers tonight – the Penn Club of Seattle!

Penn Alumni getting trained

Penn Alumni getting trained

Six hours, countless pitchers of water, and a few cramped fingers later, we’d served 169 diners, raising a total of $7,116 for FareStart’s training programs, including donations of $181 and tips of $1,327. All in all, it’s more than enough to give one student safe housing, the full 16-week culinary program, and comprehensive wrap-around services.

It's a full house.

It’s a full house.

The program has a 90 percent job placement rate within three months for students after graduation, and each Guest Chef Night includes a graduation ceremony with those who’ve completed the 16-week program successfully. On our night, we watched two grads get ready to move on to the next stage of their lives, including Tina, who didn’t miss a single day. “It’s made me stay focused instead of every day wondering what’s going to happen,” she said.

Rupi Sureshkumar, Maria Seredina, and David Blum watch the graduation festivities.

Rupi Sureshkumar, Maria Seredina, and David Blum watch the graduation festivities.

Bob, who moved to Seattle in July with a big plan that fell apart, was equally grateful. “I thank this program; it really rescued me,” he said. “I learned a lot and I appreciate it. This program is ingenious to solve the problem of homelessness and poverty.”

Bellies full of delectable ingredients like shaved Parmigiano, smoked fish, and Chantilly cream, we scattered into the night back to our respective homes — energized by the experience and humbled by the fact that we made a contribution, however small, to the students being able to have homes to return to as well.

Penn alumni enjoy a hard-earned meal at the end of the evening.

Penn alumni enjoy a hard-earned meal at the end of the evening.

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70 Years Since Graduating and He’s Still Got the “Hurrah!” for Penn

By Kiera Reilly, C’93 @KieraReilly

I always tell people that Commencement Day at Penn is the happiest day on campus, and this year, on May 19 as Penn celebrated its 258th Commencement, was no exception. In Alumni Relations, we help with the alumni processional portion of the event – alumni from every undergraduate class at Penn carry flags from their graduating year and march into Franklin Field after the graduates.

We arrive early in the morning, so we can “get robed” in our caps and gowns, and then wait for the alumni to arrive. The alumni robing is near the academic processional staging area, and I happened to be looking at President Gutmann and commencement speaker John Legend’s, C’99, chairs when the University Mace was delivered. Leslie Kruhly, the Secretary of the University, leads the academic procession carrying the mace.

IMG_3450

The staging area for the academic procession. The University’s mace was just delivered.

Me and my colleague Casey Ryan, C'95. We lead the alumni procession down Locust Walk and into Franklin Field.

My colleague Casey Ryan, C’95, and I are robed and ready to go. We led the alumni procession down Locust Walk and into Franklin Field.

After everyone is robed, we wait a bit before we get the cue to begin. Here everyone is lined up waiting for the academic procession to pass.

The alumni procession waiting for the academic procession.

The alumni procession waiting for the academic procession.

 

Then we march down Locust Walk to the front of the Sweeten Alumni House. It was a beautiful day and everyone on campus was lining the walk cheering and clapping for the alumni.

Alumni flag bearers line Locust Walk to congratulate the newest Penn Alumni!

Alumni flag bearers line Locust Walk to congratulate the newest Penn Alumni!

The alumni flag bearers then line Locust Walk and wait for the graduates. The graduates march down Locust Walk through our line of alumni flags, and the alumni cheer, clap and congratulate the newest members of Penn Alumni.

Some graduates casually walk by, others pose for pictures with their friends, or their parents and family try to capture a candid moment of them walking to graduate. And in the midst of the several thousand graduates passing us by, at the front of the alumni flag line, was Harry Gross, W’44. Harry graduated in 1944, that’s seventy years ago for those of you having a bit of trouble with the math. He wore a fun Red and Blue hat, and as he sat in his chair holding the Class of 1944 flag, he was arguably the most popular man on Locust Walk. Yes, everyone wanted to wave to President Gutmann and take a selfie with John Legend, but Harry was the star.

Graduates thanked him for coming. They shook his hand, they said wow. And when they said congratulations, Harry simply replied, “Congratulations to YOU!” And then he told them that they’d be in his same spot in seventy years!

Me and Harry

Posing with Harry

Congratulations to Penn’s Class of 2014! We’ll see you in 2084 (and we hope every year in between).

Hurrah, Hurrah, for the Red and the Blue!

Commencement from the alumni flag bearer's view.

Commencement from the alumni flag bearer’s view.

Here’s Harry leading the alumni processional into Franklin Field.

Watch videos of President Gutmann’s commencement speech and John Legend’s address here (and also photos of the day).

See all the Penn Commencement tweets #PennGrad.

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Penn Club of Utah Fifth Annual Day of Service

By Kiera Reilly, C’93 @KieraReilly

Art Warsoff, W’83, and his wife Diane Warsoff, W’83, submitted this note about the Penn Club of Utah’s Fifth Annual Day of Service:

On April 5th, the Penn Alumni Club of Utah held our 5th annual day of service. This year we volunteered with Tree Utah and followed it up with lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Red Iguana.

We are glad that the weather cooperated and we were able to get all four large columnar oaks and an apple tree planted at Wheeler Historical Farm. We were also able to cheer runners participating in a 5k run which went right past us.

As in prior years, we invited alumni from Princeton, MIT, Franklin & Marshall and University of Virginia to join us. All twenty-five alumni, friends and family that participated are looking forward to next year’s activity.

Planting trees in Utah.

Planting trees in Utah.

You can see more photos from the day’s event here.

Many Penn Clubs around the world contribute to their communities through service activities. Some recent examples are from the Penn Club of Northern California, Penn Club of Philadelphia, and a group in Los Angeles, Penn Serves LA, that includes members of both PennClubLA and the Wharton Club of Southern California. You can also read about the Penn Club of Utah’s 4th Day of Service here.

We hope that many other clubs will plan events to serve their communities – and share your story with us. Please contact Kiera Reilly, C’93, from the regional clubs team, or your regional clubs liaison, if you would like to plan an event or you organized an event you would like to share on our blog.

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It’s Cold Outside!

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @kierareilly

I work in Penn’s Los Angeles office, and I always enjoy returning to campus for some seasonal weather. When I was back on campus the last week in February for campus meetings and the annual Penn Alumni board retreat, I was treated to a real winter blast.

I left this in Los Angeles….

Sunny and warm in California (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Sunny and warm in California (Manhattan Beach, CA)

And arrived for a week of cold weather and some snow!

Snow falling as seen from my temporary office in the Sweeten Alumni House

Snow falling as seen from my temporary office in the Sweeten Alumni House

My Sweeten House colleagues were less than excited to see more snow given the harsh winter this year, but I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I even enjoyed bundling up in all my winter clothes that I never get to wear in Los Angeles, especially on Friday, when the temperatures were in the teens.

Cold temperatures!

Cold temperatures!

Bundled up in a sweater, a down jacket, a hat, a scarf and gloves! Brrr!

Bundled up in a sweater, a down jacket, a hat, a scarf and gloves! Brrr!

College Green looking magical in the snow.

College Green looking magical in the snow.

The next time I’m on campus, for Alumni Weekend, campus will be lush and green and in bloom for spring.

 

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We LOVE going for the Gold in the AlumPics!

Happy Valentine’s Day Quakers!

It’s the last day of the #alumpics competition on Facebook, and our wintery, throwback Thursday photo yesterday took the gold! But, we’re behind in the medal totals, so we need a strong showing today.

Our GOLD medal winning photo in the Throwback Thursday category.

Our GOLD medal winning photo in the Throwback Thursday category.

Given that it’s Valentine’s Day, how can you not “like” and “share” the LOVE at Penn? We can’t let Princeton, Stanford, Cornell or Columbia take gold today when we’ve got LOVE right in the middle of campus!

Here's our entry for today's Alumpics theme of LOVE.

Here’s our entry for today’s Alumpics theme of LOVE.

Here’s the link to this photo on Penn’s Facebook page. Be sure to log in to “like” it and “share.”

Sharing Penn’s photo to your Penn class or club’s Facebook group/page helps us as they are tallying shares and likes! Simply go to the Penn photo (link above), log into Facebook, and you’ll see a “share” option under the photo. Click on that and you have a drop-down menu so you can share it to your timeline or to a group. While we hope you’ll do both, sharing to your group encourages your fans to like and share the photo also. Just be sure to encourage people to like the photo at Penn’s FB page, and not on your or your class/club’s page.

For a recap of our gold-medal winning performance yesterday, see the Alumpics blog.

Let’s Go Quakers!

P.S. If you’re really feeling the love today, be sure to check the Twitter hashtag #WhyILovePhilly – isn’t Penn a big part of why we love Philadelphia?

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Penn Serves LA: Holidays are a Time for Giving

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

Holidays are a time for giving, and also for giving back. Fourteen years ago a man named Tom Bagamane and his sister decided to pack forty grocery bags and hand them out to homeless people they saw near home and work. The weekend of December 12 – 15, 2013, volunteers with The Giving Spirit headed to all parts of Los Angeles and handed full duffle bags to 2,600 homeless people. The bags were not dropped off in parks or near shelters, rather The Giving Spirit volunteers found isolated people and interacted with them in the process of handing over a bag filled with fresh and canned food, socks, hats, rain gear, toiletries and the like, along with an industrial strength blanket.

Giving Spirit group Dec.13.2013

On the Friday night of that weekend, over fifty Penn Serves LA volunteers of all ages congregated at a church in West LA to help to make greeting cards and pack Tupperware and ziplocks with necessities for The Giving Spirit’s bags. As Mr. Bagamane told the Penn crowd, The Giving Spirit knows it cannot cure homelessness, but it hopes to make the holidays and the coldest part of winter just a little easier for “our friends living on the street.” He asked the Penn alumni how it would feel to never hear your name spoken or to line up with your kids just to have a roof over your head for a few hours.

Giving Spirit 1 Dec.13.2013

Giving Spirit 2 Dec.13.2013

The Penn group pitched in for a few hours – some hauling heavy boxes, some joining the assembly lines, some binding blankets. It was a cold night, but we had lots of company and warm food provided by local restaurants…and we were reminded yet again how very lucky we are not to live in a tent or a box on the street. After a fulfilling and collegial evening, our Penn alumni headed back to their cars and homes, and over the Penn shirts they had donned many wore The Giving Spirit t-shirt emblazoned with, “GIVE HOPE LOVE”…and that’s what the holidays are all about!

Giving Spirit 4 Dec.13.2013

Giving Spirit 3 Dec.13.2013

All alumni, Penn parents, families and their children are invited to the next Penn Serves LA event on Sunday, February 23, 2014, from 4:00 – 7:00 pm at One to One Outreach. Back by popular demand, we will return to assemble and deliver boxes of food to the low income, food-insecure of South Central Los Angeles. Children over 8 years are invited to attend. Bring a bit of joy and relief to those in need with us. Click here to sign up for this event.

About Penn Serves LA – Started in 2012, Penn Serves offers a way for direct community service for local Penn alumni and their children to serve Los Angeles’ most needy populations. We partner with established nonprofits and grassroots organizations for one-time volunteer opportunities. So far, we’ve served meals to the homeless, delivered food to low income families, planned activities with immigrant children, and so much more. Please contact us if you’d like to help at a future event via email at pennservesla@gmail.com or visit our website.

Read about our past events:

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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Sitting Pretty Under the Tree

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

My dogs Koa and Lau Lau are enjoying the University’s special winter break. They especially like to sit under the tree, near the Penn ornament (hand painted by my classmate Lisa Bardfeld Shapiro, C’93) and hope that if they smile for a photo they’ll receive a treat. It seems to work every time!

DSCN1797Merry Christmas!

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Ancient Rome and Instagram in Los Angeles

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

Last month, members of the Southern California Regional Advisory Board (otherwise known as SCRAB) gathered to hear my classmate, Darius Arya, Ph.D., C’93, speak about storytelling cultural heritage through modern means, namely via social media tools such as Instagram and Twitter. Dar lives in Rome and is the CEO and co-founder of the American Institute for Roman Culture.

After re-connecting with him and his wife Erica Firpo, C’94, while in Rome this past May, I’ve been following them both as they share local scenes via Twitter and Instagram (Erica via @moscerina and Dar via @SaveRome). When I heard Dar would be in Los Angeles in November, I asked if he would speak to SCRAB about his work, and he graciously agreed.

An example of Dar's Instagram from a few weeks ago with this caption: The curve. Romans perfected the arch. Here, in Trajan's Markets they turned it on its side (and lined it with shops) to hold back the Quirinal Hill #culturalheritage #rome #archaeology

An example of Dar’s Instagram from a few weeks ago with this caption: The curve. Romans perfected the arch. Here, in Trajan’s Markets they turned it on its side (and lined it with shops) to hold back the Quirinal Hill #culturalheritage #rome #archaeology

The group gathered at Culina – a modern Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. Everyone sipped Prosecco and munched on bruschetta while waiting for everyone to arrive. We then sat down for a family-style dinner while Dar spoke about utilizing digital media to engage a global audience and tell stories about cultural heritage.

DSCN1344 Denise Winner-Roz Pinkus

SCRAB co-president Denise Winner, W’83, and Roz Pinkus, CW’64, PAR’94, GPAR’17

Marty Caan, W'69, PAR'11, and Jack Tauber, C'73, PAR'08

Marty Caan, W’69, PAR’11, and Jack Tauber, C’73, PAR’08

DSCN1351 Rob Weingarten-Salvador Brau-Pam Weingarten-Nora Brau

Bob Weingarten, C’74, PAR’12, Salvador Brau, C’67, Pam Weingarten, PAR’12, and Nora Brau,.

DSCN1350 Eric Reiter-Darius Arya-Jackie Bral

Eric Reiter, W’97, our speaker Darius Arya, C’93, and Jackie Bral, PAR’15, PAR’15

Table

Our elegant family-style dinner table at Culina.

It was an interesting lesson to hear how modern tools can reach a vast global audience and help share the stories of ancient roman culture, and hopefully help to further preserve these ancient sites.

My Instagram from the event @KieraReilly

My Instagram from the event @KieraReilly

For more on ancient Rome, follow Dar’s informative posts on his Instagram account @SaveRome.

For more information on the American Institute for Roman Culture, see their website at: http://romanculture.org/. You may also see Dar as he appears frequently in History, Discovery, and National Geographic documentaries and pursues projects relating to cultural heritage management, preservation, promotion, outreach, and communications.

SaveRome Rome in Snow

Dar’s Instagram from Dec. 12: Winter blues. Getting jealous of all the great winter shots I’ve been seeing on IG. Sure Rome has its Christmas atmosphere: trees, nativity scenes, light, fair in Piazza Navona, smell of roasted chestnuts are on the air, and the Lungotevere sycamore trees are becoming bare… But we really just have two district seasons: wet and dry– no snow… With some exceptions. Almost two years ago snow fell in Rome for the first time in over 20 years. So I cheer up with memories from that magical moment. #latergram #culturalheritage #rome #archaeology

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Penn Serves LA Sending Holiday Warmth to Our Troops

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

Do you remember receiving that handwritten or hand crafted card and feeling special?  That is exactly the sentiment Penn Serves volunteers hope to give to our troops serving overseas or those healing in hospitals this holiday season.

On November 17th, Penn Serves LA hosted a holiday card signing at the Los Angeles American Red Cross headquarters.  Every holiday season, the Red Cross hosts “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program where they organize volunteers to share their seasonal joy through greetings for veterans, military families and active duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world.

Penn volunteers received a special treat of their own, experiencing the Central Command room located at LA’s Red Cross facility.  The room is specifically designed to coordinate communications in case of a crisis, disaster, or other emergency.

Penn Alumni learn about Red Cross in LA's coveted Central Command Room.

Penn Alumni learn about Red Cross in LA’s coveted Central Command Room.

This holiday card signing event set a Penn Serves attendance record drawing more than 70 participants – alumni, children and relatives.  Proudly displaying the red and blue, Penn Serves’ participants put their Quaker creativity to work and designed cards and shared messages with our nation’s veterans. Glue sticks, scissors, stickers and markers provided both young and old the opportunity to draw and create fanciful cards.  For those who were challenged by the arts and crafts, Penn Serves LA cards were available to share inspiring messages with the troops through the written word — wishing a happy and peaceful holiday season. The cards provide a welcome Penn Serves LA “touch of home” for our troops during the holiday season.

“Seeing our generous Penn alums and their families so involved in supporting our troops really put us in the holiday spirit.  Thanks to everyone for helping the American Red Cross make a difference and fulfill its mission,” shares Jeff Sakaguchi, WG’89.  Jeff has been actively involved with the Red Cross, serving as a board member and past Chairman of the Los Angeles Region.

“It is great to see the Penn Serves’ momentum grow with insightful events. We look forward to seeing new faces at future events,” said Denise Winner, W’83, co-founder of Penn Serves LA, who organized this event.

“I know how important these cards, these words, can be to these guys,” shares Mark Lipis, W’70, a military veteran and Wharton graduate.  “I definitely wanted to be here today.”

Hard at Work, volunteers create joy through art and words.

Hard at Work, volunteers create joy through art and words.

Penn Alumni, Parents and children enjoyed sharing holiday uplifting messages for our troops.

Penn Alumni, Parents and children enjoyed sharing holiday uplifting messages for our troops.

All alumni, Penn Families and their children are invited to the next event on Friday, December 13th for The Giving Spirit.  At that event, Penn Serves will be assisting The Giving Spirit, an organization serving the homeless of Los Angeles through programs like distributing survival kits, in a critical time-sensitive mission as their supplies arrive for the holidays. Click here to sign up for this very special holiday event.

If you want to hear about more past and future events, either visit our website, like us on Facebook, or ask to be put on our mailing list by emailing pennserves@gmail.com.

Read about our past events:

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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