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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Birthdays and Tri-Co Visit

Recently, we had a meeting at the CPGC with our fellow Post-Bacs, Marcus and Leah, just before they headed out to their abroad destinations (Mexico and India, respectively). You can learn more about their work here That week both Callie and Leah had birthdays so the CPGC treated us all to the neon frosted ice cream cake pictured below. Yum!

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This past weekend, the Haverford Tri-Co students visited our house. It was fun to meet everyone, learn about their interests, and to be  a part of all their excitement as they lead into their first year at Haverford! We enjoyed a lunch from Vietnam Cafe, with plenty of spring rolls and fried rice to go around.

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Thank you, Chloe!

The fabulous, generous, and dog-loving CPGC Associate Director Chloe Tucker hosted a dinner for all of the CPGC Post-Graduate Fellows at her home (which just so happens to be on an urban farm)! Haverford House Fellows were joined by international post-grad fellows Marcus Levy and Leah Hollander, just days before they left the country. Marcus will be working at quaker organization Casa de Los Amigos in Mexico City, and Leah will be working at the public health organization Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India (SAATHII) in Hyderbad, India. We had the most amazing time eating fresh and local food, enjoying the great outdoors and each other’s company, hanging out with some four-legged friends, and finishing the night with ice cream and brownies in the most beautiful back yard I have ever set foot in.

Thank you Chloe, and good luck Marcus and Leah as you begin your new adventures!


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Weekends in Philly!

At Haverford House we work four days a week at various fantastic organizations and one day a week on our project linking Haverford students and Philly. Obviously, this leaves the weekend for us to have fun and explore Philly. After working hard at Haverford, it feels pretty amazing to have wide open weekends to do whatever fun activities we wish. This weekend, we got to do some pretty awesome activities.

On Saturday, a few of us went kayaking on the Schuykill river at Bartram’s Gardens. It was free, and a lot of fun to be on the water.

Kayaking on the Schuylkill

Kayaking on the Schuylkill

Robin exploring

Robin exploring

Later on Saturday, Callie and I played ultimate frisbee with our team from PADA (the Philadelphia Area Disc Alliance). At the fields, we ran into a few Haverford alums (including a past Haverford House fellow).

Hanging with Haverford alum and friends.

Hanging with Haverford alum and friends.

To continue enjoying the beautiful Philly summer weather, four of us headed over to Devil’s Pool at Wissahickon Creek.

Kayla watching the action

Kayla watching the action


Robin, myself, Kayla and Callie at Devil’s Pool

To round out the fantastic summer weekend, we had a delicious communal dinner of curry, cooked by Robin and Seema. We all have dinner together twice a week.

Another delicious communal Dinner!


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Intern Life at PLA

This year my fellowship is at the Medical-Legal Community Partnership (MLCP) unit at Philadelphia Legal Assistance, working to provide legal services to clients at health centers in West Philadelphia. Although I’ve been out of work recovering from a pneumothorax (more on that in a future blog post), one of the nicest things about starting was the warm welcome I got from the other paralegals and interns around the organization, including a couple from Haverford.

PLA gets a lot of volunteer workers every year, from undergrad and law students as well as members of fellowship programs such as Haverford House. However, a big portion of these workers come just for the summer. This past week was the last one for some of the MLCP interns, so we had a group meeting to reflect on the summer and celebrate their time here. People went around and shared their favorite parts of the summer and how they might change the experience for future workers over cupcakes baked by my supervisor’s daughter.

I'm the one with the beard. Directly to the right of me is Kelly Hancock '16 from Haverford

I’m the one with the beard. Directly to the right of me is Kelly Hancock ’16 from Haverford

Around the main office of Philadelphia Legal Assistance in Center City, I got to see another fellow Ford: Sydney Cone ’16. Sydney has worked in the Family Law unit at PLA for the past two summers, working alongside last year’s fellow Caya Simonsen ’14 in helping clients maintain custody of their children, receive protection from abuse court orders and other similar services. While I’m not around the center office much, it was great to see a familiar face and chat about life at Haverford and the mixed emotions surrounding senior year.

Sydney and I at PLA

Sydney and I at PLA

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Summer togetherness

It’s hard to believe we have been here a month! It feels like we have already done so much!

Here is a photo of us from week 1 – happy and excited to start this adventure!


A few weeks ago, the Chesick Scholars for the incoming freshman class came over for a visit (of course we forgot to take a picture). We all chatted and toured the house before they took us to dinner at New Delhi. We enjoyed the Indian Buffet, and all of us Fellows got up for seconds or thirds; unlimited buffet food was a welcome alternative to cooking for ourselves. :)

Last week, the CPGC Philadelphia Interns came over for dinner.  We sampled many tasty varieties of Lebanese manakeesh and baklava as people came and went throughout the evening.  It was awesome to hear about all the great work of our peers!










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Nelson Mandela Day in West Philly

Before I found my true love ultimate frisbee, I was briefly a member of Haverford’s tennis team. I’ve kept in touch with the wonderful coaches, Coach Ann Koger and Coach Louis Bolling, and they invited me to volunteer at a community tennis clinic at West Philadelphia’s  Nelson Mandela Day. West Philly celebrated Nelson Mandela Day on Sunday, July 19th with a free all-day sports clinic called “A Celebration of Life, Youth Sports, Parks and Recreation.” Mandela Day encourages people around to world to participate in 67 minutes (or more) of community service to commemorate Mandela’s 67 years of working against apartheid and toward social justice, and  I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to participate here in West Philadelphia because I took part in Mandela Day while I was studying abroad in South Africa. Despite the 90 degree weather, it was wonderful to play tennis, reconnect with the Coaches, and engage with the West Philadelphia community. 


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All Settled In

We’re about to kick off our third week living at Haverford House.

The first week was an orientation, full of walking tours through South Philly, Center City (for the Mural Arts Tour), and West Philly; a bike tour through West Philly with Parker Snowe; conversations about communal living conversations, and delicious group meals.


Robin, Chloe, and Kayla on Parker’s Bike Tour.

Our conversations about communal living had many focuses, but mostly they were to figure out how to minimize our spending (of energy and money) by helping us figure out a chore wheel and communal shopping list. We also had discussions about what sort of home we want to live in — one of the many things that came out of that discussion was a unanimous desire to have communal dinners twice a week. The past fellows (many of the communal living conversations and tours were led by past Haverford House fellows) all said that it was a good way for the six of them to get together every week, even as their professional workloads increased.


We have a schedule for our communal dinners – the rule so far has been that two fellows cook dinner and the other four fellows clean up afterwards. So far, we’ve had two of those communal dinners. Something we wanted to make sure early on is that the communal meals would be something that everyone could enjoy. Callie is a vegetarian and Romi only eats kosher meat, so chefs try to include a vegetarian option.

This past Wednesday, Callie and Romi made Vietnamese Spring Rolls. There was grilled chicken and tofu, sliced peppers, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, noodles with peanut sauce, bean sprouts, and lime wedges.


On Friday, Janice came over and we had a meeting about our upcoming projects over bagels and coffee. We went to the hardware store to get supplies to hang some flower baskets from our front porch and to scrape/sand/paint one of the tables on our porch. On Saturday, we went to the block clean up where we met several neighbors and learned more information about the  upcoming block party. We also had a BBQ party where the six of us worked together to make hamburgers and veggie burgers, french fries, orzo salad, and tons of dessert for our friends and guests (we even had a bonfire with some s’mores).


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Tonight, Kayla and Robin made clementine and cranberry salad with an orange vinaigrette dressing, pasta with the option of meat sauce or pesto sauce, and garlic bread.


Later tonight we’ll have our first house meeting. Stay tuned!

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