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…


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)


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!


conference pic

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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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.


Seema’s first time pumpkin carving!

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Unfortunately, our festive decor didn’t last long.


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:

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.


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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A Successful Summer at Puentes!

Hi, my name is Seema and my fellowship placement is at Puentes de Salud (Bridges of Health), which works with the growing Latino population in South Philadelphia by providing healthcare, community building, and educational programming. The educational programming aspect of the organization, the part I am working with, is known as Puentes Hacia el Futuro (Bridges Toward the Future).

During the summer, we hold a summer literacy program for the kids, which follows a bilingual curriculum developed by University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. The whole program is basically a reading and writing intensive summer camp (don’t worry we have fun to!). Each week we have a different theme, read texts with a social justice theme, focus on a different style of writing, and take a field trip to connect what we are learning to what is happening in Philadelphia! Below I’ve included my top 3 favorite pictures from the summer. If you’re interested, I strongly encourage you to check out the blog I made on the Puentes website which has more detail about what we did every week.


1) This is my favorite picture from the summer because it is our entire group! We have two “teams” – Team 1 is the younger kids (grades 3-4) and Team 2 is the older kids (grades 5-7). We also had 10 tutors this summer. Included in this picture is Alexandra Wolkoff, ’14 who was a Haverford House fellow last year and is continuing to work at Puentes this year. A current Haverford student, Raina Fitzpatrick, ’18 (upper left hand corner) also worked with us this summer! This picture was taken Week 2 during our field trip to Bartram’s Garden. During this trip, the younger group classified insects while the older group learned how to group food, made their own salad from fresh garden food, and got to take home some potted potatoes.

2) This picture was taken one day at recess and reminds me of all the fun we had at recess! In the bottom row (left to right) we have tutor Reyna, Alex, tutor Sehe, and me! In the second row (left to right) we have Beatriz, Stephanie, and Itzel. On the top we have Noemi and then tutor Carlos standing on the side to make sure no one got hurt! During recess, we played soccer, basketball, tag, went on the swings, visited the garden nearby, and on this day, built a human pyramid! Recess was always a great break in the day and even though it was pretty warm outside on most days, it was fun to run around! I also love this picture because it shows most of the tutors from Team 2, the team I worked most closely with. Reyna, Sehe, Carlos, and Karla (not pictured) were all really wonderful to work with.

3) We are at Philatinos Radio station here and Juan and Maria are playing around with the camera. This is a radio station started by two Mexican immigrants and it broadcasts Spanish music and talk programming. The audience of the radio station is mainly Mexican immigrants and reaches people in Philadelphia, Queens, Long Island, Miami, and Mexico. Check out this short article about the station!  We visited this radio station for our field trip during Journalism week. During the week we read news articles from Al Dia, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Times. This field trip was a great way to connect what we were learning to what is happening in Philadelphia. It was also great to see Juan, Maria, and a lot of the other kids get excited about trip! They got to meet a news presenter from Telemundo and also got to host their own radio show that aired on the station.

It was difficult for me to pick my top 3 pictures since we had SO much fun this summer. Don’t forget to check out Puentes’ summer blog to see more beautiful pictures and learn more about what we did this summer!

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