Category Archives: Alyssa D.

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 PATravel@pobox.upenn.edu!

  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.

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

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

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  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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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  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!

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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.

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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!

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  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

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

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  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.

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  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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October Education & Career Events

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Join us in October for one or more of the following Alumni Education & Career Networking events!

October 16: Penn To You: Washington, DC
Join Penn Alumni, School of Arts and Sciences Dean Steve Fluharty, and three SAS professors for “Sustainable Energy Policy: Impossible Dream or Absolute Imperative?” To register for this evening of intellectual and social engagement, visit http://bit.ly/ZuenAt.

October 22: Live Faculty Lecture Series: Cary Coglianese (Webinar)
Does regulation kill jobs? Find out during our next online, Live Faculty Lecture! Join Penn Law and Political Science Professor Cary Coglianese on Wednesday, October 22 at Noon EDT for an interactive webinar and Q&A. For more information and to register, visit www.alumni.upenn.edu/facultylectureseries.

October 25: If/Then Broadway Show Event
Join Alumni Education in New York City on October 25 at a matinee of Broadway musical If/Then. Afterwards, we’ll have a meet and greet with cast members and show producers (and Penn alumni!) David Stone and Marc Platt. Next, we’ll head to the Penn Club of NYC for a discussion and faculty talk with Penn Professor Cary Mazer and a reception. Tickets are limited, so register today! http://bit.ly/1vTWXcV

October 28: Career Tools Series: Global Opportunities – Students & Alumni Seeking Work Abroad (Webinar)
Considering looking for a job outside of the United States? Participate in the next Career Tools webinar on October 28 when our expert presenter will cover different approaches to considering an international career and review topics such as managing the job search, securing a foreign position, and adjusting to live once you make the move. To register or learn more about this event and other professional development webinars exclusively for alumni, visit http://bit.ly/ZfMSes.

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Penn Alumni Broadway Show Event

Join Penn Alumni Education for a matinee performance of If/Then, a Broadway musical starring Idina Menzel, meet cast members, and talk with the show producers, Penn alumni David Stone and Marc Platt. Afterwards, we will go to The Penn Club of New York for a reception and short faculty talk on a topic related to the show’s plot.

Tickets are limited. Register Now!

Event Details:
October 25, 2014
2pm-8pm
Richard Rodgers Theatre & Penn Club of New York
Faculty Lecturer: Cary M. Mazer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theatre Arts and English
Price: $135 includes show ticket, reception, and faculty lecture.

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This event is the first in Alumni Education’s new “Experience Penn” series. We invite you to join us for a variety of exclusive, off-campus educational opportunities. This exciting series brings alumni together with faculty to learn through shared, often behind-the-scenes, experiences. At each event, faculty members will participate with alumni, facilitate learning and reflection, and offer short talks on related topics as an academic complement to the activity. 

[Do you have behind-the-scenes access to an experience you think other Quakers would enjoy?  Email Alyssa D’Alconzo with details.]

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Live Faculty Lectures, Career Tools, & Travel Webinars

Join us for the following events this month! 

Our Live Faculty Lecture Series kicks off tomorrow, September 24, 2014 at Noon EDT with Michael Horowitz, Assistant Professor of Political Science. Please join us for his talk, “Who’s Afraid of Killer Robots? How Robotics, 3-D Printing and Other Innovations Will Affect the Future of War”. Registration and more information can be found at www.alumni.upenn.edu/facultylectureseries.

 

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The Career Tools webinar series begins next week. On Tuesday, September 30 at Noon EDT we’ll be hosting an Introduction to Career Services for Alumni. Registration and more information can be found at www.alumni.upenn.edu/careernetworking.

 

Alumni Travel

Join Penn Alumni Travel on October 1 at Noon EDT for The History and Culture of Tunisia! This live webinar, hosted by Jerry Sorkin, will be an informative and interactive discussion about the history, culture, and current conditions of the North African country Tunisia. Sorkin is a Middle East and North African specialist with degrees in Middle East studies and international business from Penn. Registration and more information can be found at http://www.alumni.upenn.edu/travel.

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First-Ever Alumni Coursera Course

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

You’ve watched the promo video

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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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What’s a Hashtag?

Join Alumni Education and two members of the Class of 1984 during an Alumni Weekend workshop to find out!

Saturday, May 17: 9am-10am
Golkin Room, Houston Hall

#WHAT’S A HASHTAG?
Social Media in the 21st Century:  Find out what everyone’s talking about!

Social media has democratized the way in which everyone conducts business in the 21st century.  Find out how you can utilize social media in your business ventures, volunteer positions and your personal life.

This one-hour workshop will provide an entertaining introduction to the world of social media, explaining what social media is, how it used, the basic tools of social media and why it’s helpful to understand the basics.  Workshop basics include an overview of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Google Plus.

Presenters:
Gwen Shields Hoover, ENG ’84
Vice President, Client Relations, Altitude Marketing

Gwen Shields Hoover, a 20-year PR veteran, joined Altitude Marketing in 2008 as a partner responsible for the firm’s public relations practice.  Today she is responsible for client relations and account management as well as public relations, social media and digital marketing operations. A valued leader of Team Altitude, Hoover manages the strategic and tactical aspects of corporate identity, marketing, advertising, digital marketing and media relations in the various industries in which her clients conduct their businesses.

Karen Glass, C’84, W’84
President, Glassworks Entertainment + Marketing

Karen Glass is a seasoned entertainment and media executive with over 20 years of experience in the distribution, marketing, development and production of films and television. Currently, Ms. Glass runs Glassworks Entertainment + Marketing, a full service film, television and marketing enterprise.  She is currently working as a marketing consultant to pluto.tv, a new curated digital video platform.  

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Register Now for Free Webinars

Author: Alyssa D’Alconzo, GSE’03, GRD’11

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Join us for one of our
final Alumni Education, Alumni Travel, or Career Networking
 events of the academic year! 

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TODAY, Thursday, April 24, 2014
The Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative
 featuring Professor Mark Duggan
12:00p.m. ET Register Now!

This talk will provide an overview of the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative (PPI).  Launched in September 2012, PPI operates under the broad mandate of marshaling the University’s resources to foster better-informed policy making on issues that affect business and the economy.  To this end, the Initiative aims to get policy-relevant, nonpartisan research by Penn faculty more “in the mix” in DC; to encourage public service among students by creating new opportunities for them to explore public policy through course work, lecture events, and internships; and to engage alumni interested in public policy, especially in the DC area.
In addition to detailing the achievements and aspirations of the Penn Wharton PPI, the talk will delve more deeply into some of Professor Duggan’s current research exploring the effect of Medicare Advantage (MA) program.  The federal government contracts with private insurers through the MA program to coordinate and finance health care for approximately 15 million of the nation’s 51 million Medicare recipients (the remaining 36 million are in traditional free-for service Medicare).  Reimbursement to and regulation of these private MA plans is changing substantially as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Face Transplant Surgery and Identity Transfer: Decoding the Debates
 featuring Professor Sharonna Pearl
12:00 p.m. ET Register Now!

Why did the plastic surgery makeover show The Swan have a therapist on staff?  Does changing our appearance so drastically change who we are that it challenges our notions of self – and is this a reason not to do it?  I take this question one step further by exploring what happens when one person is given not just a new face, but the face of someone else entirely.  Drawing on film and literary explorations of the question of identity transfer, as well as the history of face transplant surgery, I ask: what makes us who we really are?

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Women Returning to Work – Two Part Series

  • PART 1. Tuesday, April 20, 2014 (11am ET – Noon ET)
    Webinar Co-Sponsored by Alumni Career Networking, Career Services and the Association of Alumnae
    Join us for a webinar with three experts who will address finding fit and branding, resume writing, and recruiting. Register Now!
  • PART 2. Tuesday, May 6, 2014 (1pm ET – 2pm ET)
    Penn Alumnae Network Roulette: Women Returning to Work
    Co-Sponsored by Alumni Career Networking, Career Services and Association of Alumnae
    Alumnae, Register Now! Would you benefit from expanding your professional network and advice on returning to work? Do you have experience transitioning back to work that you are willing to share with others? Take advantage of this unique opportunity to connect with other Penn alumnae who have or are looking to return to work. Join alumnae from around the world for a career transition focused networking session. Penn Alumni Network Roulette enables you to speed-network online from wherever you may be: home, office, or even on the road. Alumnae will be randomly matched for 9-minute text-based chats that provide an opportunity to ask questions, make new connections, and exchange contact information.  Join the webinar prior to the networking session.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014
Great Journey Through Europe
 featuring Professor Andre Dombrowski
12:00 p.m. ET Register Now!

Join Andre Dombrowski, Professor of History of Art, as he give a short lecture on the history and culture of the  Switzerland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.  Professor Dombrowski will be hosting Penn Alumni Travel’s June 2014 trip to these countries.  We welcome all passengers of this trip and anyone interested in the places visited, to join us for this webinar.  A brief question and answer session will follow with Professor Dombrowski and representatives from our tour operator.

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