The True Value of Holidays

Keeping warm as it turns to the winter months is no simple task. In Haverford House, we’ve been turning to the traditions of the holiday season to keep our spirits nice and toasty. Monday night saw the beginning in earnest of our seasonal celebrations.

Before anything else, we were treated to another one of our regular communal meals provided by Callie and Robin. Each bite bespoke the humble origins of the ingredients and the lineages of the techniques used to prepare them. Near the end of the meal, Callie’s family’s delicious method for roasting chestnuts brought our conversation around to holiday rituals and memories. Seema had us all in stithces with her tale of learning the truth about Santa Claus in middle school, while Kayla shared a touching conversation she had with her fellow passengers when her subway broke down on Thanksgiving. The reminisicing and sharing was a perfect way to pass the afterglow of the meal, as we were all too stuffed to start bothering ourselves with dishes or preparations for the following day. Our hectic modern lifestyles afford us too few of these moments to simply enjoy the company of others, and the communal structure of the house allows us to create these moments organically. No coat or mittens can provide the warmth of a home-cooked meal.

Inside the house there are a couple other signs that it’s holiday time. Someone walking in the house is immediately struck by our illuminated Christmas-tree, handpicked by the house from a tree farm near Upper Darby.

 

A natural compliment to the lights on the tree are the flickering candles of our menorah.  IMG_3904

 

Festive indeed! Recently, there’s been talk in the house about doing a gift exchange or going caroling, so you can bet our holiday spirit hasn’t run out yet. And whatever we plan next, you can bet you’ll probably hear about it on the blog. Until next time! Dan signing off, wishing you all a merry (or at least warm) holiday season.  

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A few weeks ago, the six of us were sitting around the table at communal dinner, thinking about Thanksgiving.

We started to talk about what Thanksgiving looked like in different homes.

Some of us went to diners, some of us had the entire family over,
some of us just had only the immediate family over,
some of us volunteer for the holidays,
some of us are Canadian and have a different Thanksgiving…

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Thanksgiving looks different to all of us, so we decided to bring our differences together.
Each of us decided to make at least one dish, so that before we went home to our families
we could celebrate Thanksgiving in Haverford House as our own little family.

We had a goat cheese and pear salad, baked brie, roasted cabbage and broccoli,
green beans with almonds, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and a yummy kosher turkey.
(Not pictured here: Pumpkin Pie & Sweet Potato Cheesecake)

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Happy Thanksgiving from Haverford House to you!

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Professional Development

One awesome perk of the Haverford House fellowship is that we each get $500 to spend on professional development. In past years, this money has been spent on a variety of different activities from GRE prep books to attending yoga workshops. I chose to spend some of the money on attending a conference at Columbia University. I am interested in the intersection between health and human rights and this was a national student conference for the organization called Physicians for Human Rights – it seemed right up my alley! Additionally, Jemma Benson (’13) who participated in Haverford House two years ago and worked at the same placement I am currently at (Puentes de Salud) was helping to organize the conference. Moreover, the co-founder of Puentes, Steve Larson (also a Haverford alumn) was going to be speaking at the conference!
It was great to connect with Jemma and talk about developments in Puentes since she left as well as to connect with Steve and talk to him about his recent trip to Puebla, Mexico (where most of our families at Puentes are from). I also got to learn more about many current human rights violations such as health in America’s prisons, attacks on hospitals in Syria, family detention centers and more.
This was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about my interests and connect with (former and present) colleagues from Puentes! Thanks CPGC!

 

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Jemma, Steve, and I at the end of the conference.

 

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NSTA Conference

Last week, Haverford House had a special visitor…MY DAD! He and I both attended the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Area Conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

My Haverford House work placement is with FirstHand, the educational initiative of the University City Science Center. FirstHand sent a colleague and me to the conference, and we came away with a lot of ideas for our programs.

My dad is a science teacher in northern New Jersey and his district allowed him to go for professional development. It was awesome to spend some time with him, and to learn about what he focuses on professionally. I enjoyed sharing ideas and comparing notes on the several sessions that we both attended.

Here we are in front of the NSTA nautilus sign:

 

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Dinner Guests!

We recently had the great pleasure of hosting Haverford’s president and provost, Kim Benston and Fran Blase over for dinner. They filled us in on what has been happening at Haverford since we graduated, from big changes such as how they are settling into their positions, to smaller annoyances including the infamous geese that inhabit our campus. We also got to speak about our jobs and projects, and show off our beautiful home and always improving cooking skills. We cooked a vegan dinner of squash curry, salad and peanut-ginger noodles, and Fran and Kim brought delicious desserts and seasonal beverages. We really enjoyed our time with Fran and Kim, and the fact that they took the time to come out to Haverford House speaks incredibly highly of them and the college.

We struggled a little to fit all of us into one picture where we were all looking at the camera (always a problem for blog group shots!), but here are some photos from the evening.

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It’s Election Day!

Today I experienced my first Election Day as a Philadelphia resident. While Dan, Kayla, and Romi enjoyed a day off from work, Seema, Callie, and I all had regular work-day schedules.

Tonight after playing some pick up soccer (!!), I headed to the polls. The friendly volunteers were excited that it was my first time voting in Philadelphia, and they offered me my choice of soda – grape, orange, or ginger ale – as a thank you for coming out to vote. Honestly, I thought they were kidding at first, but sure enough I left with a can of orange soda. It’s the little things. I didn’t expect my first time voting in Philadelphia to be blog-worthy :).


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More Fall Fun!

The house has had lots of fall fun! In addition to carving pumpkins, some of us took a trip to Linvilla Orchards! We enjoyed apple cider donuts and caramel apples, participated in the apple sling shot, and of course picked some apples.  

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Pumpkins!

Although it’s been hard to say goodbye to summer, we’ve been getting into the fall spirit! We kicked off the season with pumpkin carving! We put on some spooky halloween music, carved our pumpkins, roasted the pumpkin seeds for a seasonal snack, and put them on the porch for decoration.

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Seema’s first time pumpkin carving!

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Unfortunately, our festive decor didn’t last long.

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5 days later….

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Concerts in Philly

One of my favorite things about Philadelphia is the great music scene. Philly is blessed with both an active local scene in many genres, as well as having a lot of great venues for touring bands to come play. When I was at Haverford, I always made an effort to come into the city and see shows, but now that I’m actually living here it couldn’t be easier. A night of good live music is always just a few dollars and a ride of public transportation away.

Philadelphia has some really big venue spaces to go to, like the Wachovia Center or the Susquehanna Bank Center across the Delaware. However, a lot of the bands I like fall in the middle of the fame spectrum: big enough to tour, but not so big they can fill massive venues like that. As a result, I get to catch them in small, often more intimate spaces like the First Unitarian Church, the Union Transfer or bars like Johnny Brenda’s and Kung Fu Necktie. There are also lots of house & basement shows, as we’ve learned at Haverford House living in between two houses with resident bands!

A picture from when bass-drum duo Lightning Bolt played the First Unitarian Church, one of the crazier shows I’ve ever been to. Not my picture, taken from Youtube here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z5BJ_s9EtM

Most recently, I caught Canadian post-rock legends Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Union Transfer on September 28. The eight-piece includes two percussionists, a violinist, and an upright bass, in addition to a quartet of guitarists and bassists (one of whom regularly plays his instrument with a screwdriver in place of a pick, producing a haunting drone; check out the technique covered by a fan on Youtube). Such a big roster results in a big sound, whose walls of feedback and swelling crescendos filled the packed-but-not-quite-sold-out house. They played for close to 2 hours, opening with perhaps their best-known song in ‘Storm’ before playing the entirety of their new 40-minute album and closing with a few more old favorites. I didn’t take any pictures or video myself, but you can check out a clip from the show here.

I’ve already got some shows lined up in the next couple months, and I look forward to continuing to take advantage of the awesome music culture in Philly.

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A Change of Pace

Now that the summer literacy program at Puentes is over, my day-to-day roles have changed quite a bit. During this hiatus between the summer literacy program and the beginning of our after-school mentoring and tutoring program I have been working on getting ready for the school year. This includes updating documents, conducting outreach to universities for interns and volunteers (emailing and attending school fairs), interviewing potential interns for our Fall 2015 Internship, organizing our Puentes office at Southwark School, preparing for our tutor and intern orientation, and getting our materials ready for the school year.

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This is our Puentes office at Southwark School with all of our materials. A few interns (including Katie Tsai, ’16!) helped me move all the materials from our summer site to here. I will be spending the next week organizing everything!

 

This has definitely been a change of pace since I was used to being very active  with the kids during the summer and now I do a lot of work from a computer. I miss working with our kids a lot, but it is also great to see all the work that goes into getting ready for our after school mentoring and tutoring program – there is surprisingly a lot!

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