Author: Josh Durando
I just reached my four month benchmark here at Penn and even though I feel like an old vet, there are still a lot of “firsts” I encounter on a day-to-day basis. Just last week I had my first “the copier hates me and I don’t see any paper jam, and it is totally doing this on purpose, and the world is going to end” melt-down since I started working here. Although for that 3 minutes it seemed like nothing else would ever matter again beyond the machine so obviously being wrong about the paper jam (it wasn’t, by the way, there was totally paper stuck in there that I practically had to use a map to find), there have been more significant “firsts” in my time at Penn. The most paramount of these “firsts”, arguably, was experiencing my first Alumni Weekend. As a recent graduate (2008) I’ll be attending my first milestone reunion at my alma mater this fall, making Penn’s Alumni Weekend quite literally my first.
Being an event planner, it is sometimes my job to envision things – see a space, understand the flow of an event, know the logistical process – even though I haven’t seen it, done it, or lived it before. With over 30 events in three days, most of which take place in a single day, I’m sure you can imagine why Alumni Weekend might be a tough thing to envision. Nevertheless, I tried to prepare myself for what was on the horizon, and make sure I had all the details in order for the reunion parties I was planning.
While it is sometimes hard to break the temptation to get caught up in the minutia of what you are doing – that centerpiece isn’t quite right, that decoration is crooked – it is important to step away and see the bigger picture. For me, it was important to have faith that the parties I planned would be fun, and go off without a hitch, and to get around campus to see if Alumni Weekend was what I envisioned it would be. It was. In fact, it was better. There is something about the delicate ballet of bringing many moving parts together that make the success of an event, or in this case a series of events, that much more rewarding and special.
I loved seeing the diversity of the events. From the beauty of the 50th reunion at the Barnes, to the fun of playing casino games at the 25th, to the playfulness of a theme party at the 15th or 5th reunions or the excitement of going to a talk by Tori Burch, Alumni Weekend covered all the bases. I think what I loved most, however, was that even if it wasn’t your reunion year, you were welcomed back to campus and still had great events you could take part in like the parade and picnic, or Franklin Fest.
From one event to the next, it was smiling faces happy to be back on campus reconnecting with old friends. I loved watching it all happen and being a part of it. With the “first” now behind me, enabling my self-proclaimed ‘vet’ status, I am excited for what is to come. I look forward to more firsts, and exciting new experiences, but even more so, I’m hungry for seconds.