People, Planet, and Peace Over Profit!

By Molly Greenfield
(Photos by author and TPC alumna, Rachel Mazzaro)

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Work trips are the best, especially when they bring you to New York City. NYC is only an hour and a half drive from Philly — how wild is that?! The weekend before last, I was fortunate enough to be part of a historic and inspiring day: the largest climate march ever on the books, topping 300,000 people. The People’s Climate March took place to put pressure on policy makers at the upcoming UN summit to make a commitment to pursuing climate friendly policies.

92914_PPEHRC3There was more than the predicted ‘green organizations’ in attendance. The organization that I marched with called for not only climate change, but human and system change. I was proud to be among a ragtag group of activists shouting, “Carbon cuts not welfare cuts!” and, “THIS is what the climate movement looks like!” Our message was that our current systems, whether those are our sources of energy or how we provide for our citizens, are not doing enough. We have to do more. Climate change is inextricably linked with social change. If we choose climate change and forget about social change, we’ve lost. We need our poor, and our poor need us. So I marched, and I chanted, and I carried on my back a sweet six-year-old girl of one of the families of my organization, because she is who I am chanting for, and she is who the system has forgotten.

92914_PPEHRCNYC2It was a long weekend. We arrived on Friday afternoon and hosted a hundred or so people in a church (sleeping on the floors of course) for the conference that preceded the march. I was a busy intern, giving directions to various breakout sessions, working security for the church, doing check-ins and check-outs, coordinating lunch and meeting times, and more. It was cool to be able to take on such responsibility and know that I am capable of doing so. My professional confidence grows week-to- week. Our bus arrived back to Philly late, I hopped on the subway, and made it home around midnight only to get up and start my work week at my other internship early the next morning! Some weeks are about embracing the chaos.

The march is over, the chaos has quieted, and I am back in what now feels like my small, quaint city (also known as the 5th largest city in the United States). I know that I have a lot of personal work to do to leave less of a carbon footprint than I have begun to build, but I am enjoying living in a city that allows me to walk and use public transportation. I am cutting down on carbon emissions, saving gas money, and crafting some good-looking calves. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the average American is responsible for about 21 tons of carbon emissions annually. “If every American cut those emissions by 20 percent over the next year, it would be the equivalent of shutting down a third of the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants.” (Negin, The People’s Climate March is over—Now What?)

Get walking!

Live by Faith, Not Fear

By Bree Kremer

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Time really does fly when you’re having fun. I have already been in Philadelphia for nearly a month (crazy!). Let me give you some context. So far I’ve been oriented to the city, found housing, and started my classes and internship. I am living in Center City in a neighborhood called the “gayborhood”. If you’re ever in Philly you can’t miss it — just look for the rainbow under the street signs. I am also enrolled in two classes here: one is called Inside-Out and another is Social Justice. The classes are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! And my internship is beautiful chaos. I work for an anti-poverty grassroots organizations in Kensington that does some awesome advocacy and community development work.

I wish I could give ya’ll a play-by-play of my time here but we all know no body got time for that! So instead here is the heart of it:

“Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

This quote has struck me over and over again since coming to Philly. It has helped combat the fears I’ve encountered. My first time riding SEPTA (the public transportation system in Philly) alone. Fear. Budgeting for my time here. Fear. Interviewing. Fear. My first day on the job. Fear. Flying solo to activities in the city. Fear.

By now I’ve painted a picture similar to Courage the Cowardly Dog (if you don’t know who that is, do yourself a favor and look it up). If that’s what you imagined, perfect.

But honestly, so many of these experiences, and more, are new and that can be scary. That’s normal. But I refuse to let any amount of fear, whether it is full-on panic or a slight hesitation, dictate the decisions I make and the chances I take. Instead I will focus on loving as genuinely as possible in whatever situation may arise because, “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). That means going into work and loving and serving the people I work with instead of worrying about messing up. That means jumping into new friendships confidently instead of being socially anxious. It even means going to that random event by myself if others aren’t interested.

Fear holds us back. And Philadelphia especially is not a place I want to be held back. Like I said, I’ve already been here a month! I only have so much time to hit up insomnia cookies (the BEST cookie place I’ve ever set foot in!), explore the many gardens, eat as much ethnic food as I can (I love you Holland, but that is one department you seriously need some work in…), visit historic sites, soak up wisdom from my supervisor, and check out all the beautiful murals around the city. I don’t have time to be ruled by fear. And neither do you. Get out there! Go exploring, study off-campus, learn something new, take a risk. Because fear shouldn’t dictate our lives. Love should.

Spruce it Up

92214korbyaptBy Korby Reed

After a week of apartment hunting, it seems you can just about survive everything TPC has to throw at you! It’s tough apartment hunting, but we all made it and it’s a huge relief. Though it may be the last thing on your mind, taking time to make your apartment more appealing is a necessity! To some, having a couch, or perhaps just cushions, is enough to satisfy their needs, but to others bringing home to Philly will help them relax a little. I’m a huge fan of having objects in my living space that make me feel at home and comfortable. Having significant objects can really help make living in a strange place feel a lot less strange, I promise.92214korbyapt3

92214korbyapt2Whether you are sharing the living room with four others, or in my case just one, you want to add a little of yourself without bothering the others and sometimes that takes a little compromising. Paintings, wall hangs, or posters are a fantastic way to have a unique look in your apartment, all while capturing multiple personalities. They may just be the spice you need for your bland walls and it gives you ample opportunity to organize and display them however you want. Amazon or All Posters have a ton of inexpensive selections. Thrift stores like Circle Thrift have a lot of furniture, rugs, paintings and apartment knickknacks on the cheap. There’s a student discount on Thursdays and every week they have 50% discount on colored items, including furniture!

But maybe you want to save some money and get a little more creative! Let your inner artist come out and use found objects around town or things you have with you. You’d be surprised how cool a bookcase made from found crates looks. Trash day can be your best friend — one man’s trash, can be another’s treasure. We found a huge couch, in great shape, for free just a couple of blocks down from our apartment. It doesn’t hurt to take a walk through town and see what you can find. Turn cartons into vases or pen holders and use old lamp shades as a small trashcan for your bathroom. If you have an overabundance of items like sticky notes, make wall art. My bedroom’s wall is littered with different colored sticky notes. It’s a fun way to show your creative side, while giving your living space a little more color.

Lastly, it’s the little touches that matter! Whether it’s a plant or a ceramic eagle you named ‘Frank’, little pieces can make you feel a tad bit more connected to your apartment and your life in Philly. Work with your roommates to find a balance in the apartment that suits all of you, which can be tough, but like I said before, once you’ve made it through apartment hunting, you’re set for just about anything.

Where Do We Go Now?

By Mindze Mbala-Nkanga
Written Saturday, September 6

9221430thststationToday marks the third Saturday that I have been here in Philadelphia, and as if to mark the date, the weather has decided to be unceasingly rainy; just as it was on the day I first arrived here. I can still remember how excited and nervous I was when I arrived by train, taking the escalator up to the main floor of the 30th street Station. The only train stations I had been in before this one was the small Amtrak stations with one or two ticket booths and a few rows of waiting chairs. This station reminded me more of what I had seen on TV shows: eight or so sections of pew-like seating, and a large ticket booth, high ceilings with old style architectural decorations, and grand floor-to-ceiling windows. Then there was finding my friend, who had agreed to meet me at the station, and then the process of finding a cab, which was altogether much less scary than I had feared, and driving through the outskirts of Center City and arriving at the hotel, and paying the taxi man a healthy tip because I’d thought he would give me change.

Since then I have moved into an apartment with a really cool group of people, interviewed for four possible internships, and selected the one that I will be doing for the next three months.

Today, my housemates and I are even hosting an event at our apartment! We’ve bought avocadoes from the Italian Market (which has awesomely affordable, fresh produce), we bought our chips from the nearby SuperFresh, the carpet has been vacuumed, the dining table and kitchen cleaned off, now we’re just waiting for the guests to arrive. I think everyone is in a particularly celebratory mood this weekend because a lot of folks have already started to work, while others are making their final decision as to where they want to work, which makes this event a nice outlet for celebration and relaxation, as well as a great way to really get to know everyone much better. Now that we’ve all moved into our apartments, we’re all spread out throughout the city; some of us are in Center City, while others are a subway ride away in West Philly, and still others are in South Philly, China town, the Loft District etc., so it’s nice to have a time when we can all come together and share our experiences and see each other and hang out.

I’m in a particularly celebratory mood because I’m really excited about the internship that I will be starting! I will soon be working in the lab of cardiothoracic surgeon, working on a project related to the restructuring of cardiac tissue. My internship is one that I was able to obtain through networking with TPC alumna. Because it’s a new placement for TPC and because it’s in a hospital setting, there are a few things that have to be sorted out before I start working there, such as clearances, who my direct supervisor will be, what exactly, my job description will be, but I’m really excited for this opportunity! In talking with the head of the lab, we’ve already discussed the possibility of my sitting in on a few surgeries, both of rats, and humans, which really excites me because my long term career goal aligns very closely to the work of the head of the lab.

It’s almost strange to me to think that we’ve only been here for three weeks, and that we’re still going to be here for another three months. I feel like I’ve already become used to this city, and am beginning to feel comfortable calling it my home. I’m excited to see where the next few months will take me in terms of my internship, my seminar class, and personal growth and adventures!

It Was an Interesting Day

By Irene Mendoza
(PHL:EXP’s second week occurred September 1-5)

In my opinion, Week Two was probably the most complicated and fast-paced week so far here at TPC. We were being prepped for potential interviews and talking about the perfect resume, cover letter, thank you emails, and thanks you letters. On top of that we had to keep up with this Caucus process that is frequently updated and could send us running out the door for an interview at any moment. The Philadelphia Center was my only real source of WiFi so I came as early and stayed as late as the Center allowed. In the end, I was set up with two interviews on a Friday related to public Health and Social Work. Both internships were under this corporation called Public Health Management, but provided very different services. The first interview was at one of their care clinics and I was terrified because this was interview number one!

I’ve been on many interviews for short-term jobs and they never felt like real professional interviews. I changed about four times that day because I wasn’t sure how dressed up I should be, if my hair should be up or down; first impressions are important and I was scared I didn’t look the part. Taking the subway wasn’t too bad, but the little walking I did do after that was in 90 degree weather and I was sweating through my blazer and dress so things were going well thus far. I went with another TPC student who, like me, has interests in health care and social work. I’m pretty sure we waited for 45 minutes, because we got there ten minutes early, like the good and eager little interviewees we were. It wasn’t a problem though, because the whole Joan Rivers death thing was all over the news and we happened upon a channel that was going over her whole life in a one hour segment, it was very interesting. The interview process wasn’t at all how I imagined it. It was professional but in a very unintimidating and casual way. I anticipated being drilled with difficult questions I couldn’t have prepared for. We sat down with two women that we would be working closely with and had a conversation about what services they provide and all the opportunities that were available and there were many. They gave us a tour of the clinic and then interviewed us separately, which went well. I was going to take the subway back and as luck would have it, I got lost and missed the subway. Do not fear, Google maps was there and got me to my next interview on time and in heels!

My next interview was going to be more one on one, which was exciting. Once I got up to the top floor for the organization, I noticed that it was very state of the art everything. After waiting a few minutes for my interviewer she gave me a tour of all the floors they operate off of. She showed me the personal gym and coffee shop and was going on about the personal chefs and 3:00 p.m. happy hours. The location and facilities were was all so over whelming. She was very straight forward and blunt about expectations and was only willing to see me because she has always been impressed with past TPC interns. This was more of a grueling process because a lot of the responsibility that she wanted to bestow on this position was going to be over the 32 hour week limit. Before she sent me off she handed me a bag of condoms she brought with her from the event she’d come back from. I went home torn between two great opportunities and in possession of a Ziploc bag with a variety of condoms. It was an interesting day.

Take With a Grain of Salt

By Rachel Walcott

Disclaimer: All advice should be taken with a grain of salt, no matter its source.

These past couple of weeks, I’ve really been trying to orient myself to the city. I’ve found myself thinking, “Wow, this place is great!” but also feeling like there’s no way I’ve seen a fraction of what I could be seeing.

Coming here has already showed me how small my world really was. Don’t get me wrong, I love my small town, even if it consists of only Hanover College and a McDonald’s. It was wonderful because it was all about the people. After all, when all you have is a school and fast food, entertainment is pretty much all up to you. I learned by interacting and meeting the people who formed my community.

When I got to Philly, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff to do. There are museums, film festivals, historical sites, markets, shows, public art displays, performing arts, shopping districts, underground concourses: the list goes on. I made a checklist of things I should do, ’cause I wanted to make sure I actually could say I did things while I was in the big city. But recently, I had a realization.

Simply making a list of things to do and checking them off wasn’t gonna’ cut it. How had I forgotten what I really loved about my small-town life? Where was the human aspect? I missed connecting with people.

I challenge you to do some serious people watching and chances are you’ll be able to see what I mean. Everyone is with someone, interacting. People laugh and smile, talk and walk, they connect. The best part about being in a big city isn’t that there is just sooooo much to do, but that there are so many people who you can share your experiences with! Holy crap, Rachel. Did you forget you love people? Why, yes. Yes I did.

“So, what is it you recommend, Rachel?” Well, folks, this is the part where I must repeat that sometimes advice needs to be taken with a grain (or several grains) of salt. My advice is to go out on a limb and connect with people. Not just the people who happen to be participating in the same program as you (although I have met some of the coolest people through TPC and I couldn’t be more thankful for them being in my life). Not just people who work with you at your internship. But people you wouldn’t already be running into every day.

My approach was very social media based (which makes sense if you go read my previous blog) and although it worked well for me, there is no guarantee it will work for you as well. But hey, life is about taking chances! Certain social media apps help you connect with folks you might never have met otherwise – and I know precautions must be taken when meeting strangers, but I think strangers have just as much potential, if not MORE potential, to affect your life in a profound way as your fellow TPCers or coworkers do.

These apps helped me find people close to me with similar interests, and I have had positive experiences with them. Again, be mindful, aware, smart, cautious, and stay safe! But do take some considered chances. Jump off that metaphorical cliff. Get into the city, and really connect with the heart of everything. There are people here who preexist you, and you never know what you could learn, or teach someone else until you try. So, I say go out on a limb! Whether you get an app or two, or just wander around until someone falls into your lap, go find some strangers! After all, that’s what experiential learning is all about.

 

Conquering the City

By Korby Reed

When you think ‘city’, you imagine tree-filled parks, friendly people and locally owned stores, right? Okay, I’ll admit that is probably not what you think of, but you should start thinking that way! What if I were to say that Philadelphia’s Center City is more than just taxis and tall buildings but instead a city filled with thoughtful people living in a huge creative jungle. No need for the hypothetical because that’s what I just said and what I’ll keep saying!

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Every city is an elaborate system of people, infrastructure, and machines that come together. A small town can be defined the same way, just on a minor scale. Hanover, Indiana is the… the micro to the macro City of Philadelphia. The buses bustle a little more here and that’s an experience all on its own. You might not know everyone’s name on the street as you pass them or the exact hours of the local stores, but you start to see the similarities. Can I see the sky? Check. Can I find corn if I need to? Check. Is there a language that captures the surrounding area? Double check. Though I will probably never get used to referring to the roads as ‘macadam’ or the ATMs as ‘MAC’, I do think saying ‘water’ in a different way (wooder) is always fun.

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I appreciate the energy and spirit that goes into making this place function, without so many of these people here, the city would not float like it needs to. The parks here are well-kept and full of caring people picnicking, conversing, or looking to see squirrels, which are gray, not red, here in Philly. The local grocery stores and markets are fantastic, with tons of fresh fish and organic products that you make you feel a little better about buying. The rivers that outline center city are beautiful and dazzling, giving the city more great views.

I was a bit hesitant on what the city would offer before I got here. After being in Hanover for so long I thought it might be tough to function in college in a completely different atmosphere but I’m surviving. Though I have three more months to go, I have made some major strides and experienced a lot since arriving here. I think I’ve mastered the transportation and learned about the features of my neighborhood, which are two very important steps to this integration process. To say I’ve defeated this city is an understatement; my small town mind and I have made this city our… good friend.