Author: Patrick Bredehoft
“The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.” —W. Somerset Maugham
This past weekend highlighted some great examples of the astonishing variety of communities and opportunities to be found on Penn’s campus. With the second Penn Spectrum conference to be held in Philadelphia, we welcomed multiple generations of diverse alumni back to campus for a weekend of impassioned discussions and warm reunions. Whether the alumni were sharing academic research, personal anecdotes, or salsa moves, the spirit of collaboration was palpable.
On Saturday afternoon, College Green was also abuzz with students celebrating Skimmerfest, a campus-wide party that includes great musical acts, food trucks, a 40-foot climbing wall, and a giant inflatable football player (perhaps an omen for the game to come?). Students flooded the center of campus, enjoying the perfect weather and time spent with one another.
Just a few blocks away, a makeshift city was being assembled on Hill Field, with the following invitation to the campus community:
What is the best way to teach students about what it’s like to live in informal settlements – which will be home to over half of the world’s population within the next two decades? Create an opportunity for them to build and inhabit a makeshift ‘city’ using cardboard and other simple materials right in the University of Pennsylvania’s backyard. On Friday, Sept. 20th and Saturday, Sept. 21st, students from the School of Design will re-create the best conditions possible of a hypothetical informal settlement – the fastest growing type of habitation in the world.
Alumni reuniting, students celebrating, and global realities made into local experience: just your typical weekend, Penn!