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Philly Beat: Women’s History Month Edition

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We all witnessed almost three million inspiring individuals take part in the Women’s March and celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th, but it doesn’t stop there. It is currently Women’s History Month, and there are some incredible and eclectic events happening around Philadelphia, which celebrate the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

  1.     Women’s Film Festival

Taking place from March 16-19 at the Kimmel Center and Prince Theater, the Women’s Film Festival features and celebrates the work of phenomenal artists and women in the film industry. Tickets vary in price and start at $8.

  1.     The Philadelphia Women’s Theater Festival

Launched on International Women’s Day, the Philadelphia Women’s Theater festival is staging “Period Play: Eight Anachronisms from the Future Past.” The local playwright Hannah Sciver states that the play is about “refracting tiny glimpses of women’s history through the prism of today,” while upholding a critical eye and acknowledging the growth that is still needed. Organizers recognize the play as the hope of progress to come, and tickets are around $10-15.

  1.     The Body Wails, The Body Restores

Happening on March 17 and 18, artists and choreographers from Chicago join the Painted Bride Art Center in exhibiting a series of performances that engage in themes of race, trauma, history and womanhood, that ends with a discussion lead by Dr. Brenda Dixon-Gottschild; a cultural historian, anti-racist activist, and performer.

  1.     Dish It Up!

This one I will definitely be attending. Dish It Up Is a fundraising event based on a food competition featuring all female chefs. Tickets can be purchased online and donations can be submitted at the venue itself. The funds raised will support Women Against Abuse — a leading domestic violence organization comprised of advocates and service providers in Philadelphia.

  1.     Amplify! Black Women of the Movement Symposium

Featuring free admission, the African American Museum of Philadelphia, in collaboration with Independence National Historical Park and the Smithsonian Institute, have put together a symposium that both features and honors the work of African-American women which are often overlooked.

  1.     Philly Film Showcase

Taking place at the PFS Roxy Theater on Sansom Street, the film showcase and Friday reception will feature four screenings from female directors including: Amy Frear, Maaman Rezaee, Catalina Jordan Alvarez, and Lisa Jiang. The film showcase attendance fee runs on a pay-what-you-wish system.

  1.     Disrupting the Patriarchy 2017: Negotiating and Getting Things Done

Taking place at the Free Library Business Resource and Innovation Center (BRIC), a panel will teach the art of negotiation and how to get things done as a woman in a male-dominated society.

  1.     #SpeakUpPHL: A Feminist Art Workshop

This collaborative street event celebrates anything and everything to do with Women’s History Month. Sponsored by Blur and ishknits and New Century Trust, multiple prints of Blur’s iconic abstract ‘mouth’ in a range of colors that will be on multiple displays for anyone and everyone to fill with words, feelings and thoughts. The aim of #SpeakUpPHL is to celebrate the 135-year tradition of women speaking their minds, and once the displays have been filled up with words, they will be posted around various locations around the city.

  1. Roxane Gay: Difficult Women

Take part in a conversation with Roxane Gay, an American feminist writer, professor, editor and commentator. Engage in discussion about her recent story collection called “Difficult Women,” which explores both “the privileged and impoverished, the loved and forsaken – a beautiful cross section of modern America.” The function is taking place at Parkway Central Library on Friday March 24.  

Friday Night at the PMA

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The change in weather was instantaneous for most. A mix of museum regulars, families, and students, encrusted with ice shed their windproof layers and melted into the sounds of a decidedly warmer climate.  As the recent bout of winter weather swept through Philadelphia last weekend, the Philadelphia Museum of Art opened its doors and tried to cure its visitors’ frostbite with Latin sound. As part of its ongoing series of Friday Night at the Museum, the PMA hosted Conjunto Philadelphia for a night of dancing to Cuban music. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has been offering this program this year and has showcased a different musical act each week that matches a monthly theme. March’s small-group musician theme brought the local group Conjunto Philadelphia up the iconic Rocky steps and into the marble atrium.

Visitors filed into the seating of the iconic staircase in the main hall, turning the solemn steps below the golden Diana into impromptu bleachers. Taking their place behind congas or lifting guatacas, the members of Conjunto Philadelphia wasted no time to introducing themselves and dove into their first set of the night. Ripping through the chatter, the trumpet of the first salsa of the night seemed to ring through one’s chest. Several visitors, who happened to be going up the stairs at the time and had not realized the band was starting, lost their footing as Conjunto Philadelphia’s opening bars shook the PMA. Some of the oldest and youngest in attendance carefully descended the staircase to dance in the space between the band and the crowd. Early on, guests still clung to the spaces they had carved out on the steps. As the evening crowd begin to thicken, friction developed between local students and some older couples as they fought for the last inches of space, balancing plates of tapas style flatbread or glasses of chardonnay. However, the urging of the band with the example of one young girl who decided to brave the winter weather and the dance floor in an Elsa dress, many peeled themselves away from their seats to join the dance.

“If all you can do is dance terribly, please dance terribly. We’re here to have a great time with you, and if you can come up to the dance floor and share your passion with us we would be so appreciative,” one member of Conjunto Philadelphia announced.

After assuaging the fears of visitors who hadn’t quite mastered their mambo, the band started their next piece, a Cha Cha Cha entitled Rico Vacilon. Compared to the earlier, brisker, trumpet led tune, Rico Vacilon seemed to be inserted as a warmup for those still nervous about stepping with the syncopated beat of a Cuban rhythm. A soft set of vocals with a tumbadora coaxed strangers and spouses to pair up and just move with the music.

While music and food dominated the main hall, it’s important to note the museum’s other wings remained open throughout the event. However, the experience in the galleries was far from unaffected by the festivities downstairs. The sounds of Rico Vacilon filtered down the corridors into the period rooms and halls of armory. For one who is more than an occasional visitor, the galleries took on a new dreamlike atmosphere growing more surreal as the distance from the main hall increased. The same vocals that made the colors of Sargent’s watercolors shimmer a little brighter on the first floor were warped and garbled in the European wing on the second. The hall of 19th century European painting suffered from a particularly strange set of acoustics. Differently pitched but equally corrupted versions of the same song leaked in from its two entrances converging into cacophony somewhere around Coypel’s “Abduction of Europa. Overall the effect was more than a little forbidding and the backdrop to viewing the works of Bronzino or Munch was enough of an incentive for most to return to the music. But, in the end the gallery’s audio dissonance may have been for the best, as the events downstairs had progressed into a salsa and few were left in their seats.

For Swarthmore students who missed out on last week’s Friday Night at Museum feature, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is offering another chance to enjoy music, drinks, and food this week. There are no signs of the series ending anytime soon, and the PMA’s calendar is currently offering up a tasting menu of cultural events and music. With next week’s listing set as the appropriately Irish Donohue troupe, the event for the final Friday of this month is already rousing up chatter among students on campus as the Philadelphia Museum of Art nears its 100th anniversary celebration of Duchamp’s infamous submission of a urinal to the 1917 armory exhibition with a night of Dadaist scavenger hunts and DJs.


Philly Beat: treat yo self edition

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Hello friends, spring break is coming up. It’s so crazy to me how simultaneously fast and slow time passes here. Another few weeks, another spring break, another few weeks, another Worthstock, another finals period, another graduating class, and the cycle repeats itself (give or take a few bitterly cold months).

Excuse my half-hearted, semi-bitter sentimentality — spring break is EXCITING because it means the SUN is coming back. If you know me, you know that the return to constant sunshine is the pinnacle of my year. It’s time to treat yourself — believe me you deserve it. This is perhaps geared more towards those staying on campus, but there are some things in here you can indulge in from afar, or later on after you return.

  1. COLOURPOP.com (or Colorpop, honestly don’t even start) – For all you lipstick lovers, colourpop is discontinuing some of their products and so they are selling at reduced prices right now for $4. Just go (but also hurry because they’re selling out.)
  2. On 212 Arch street in the Old City, there is a little pink stand alone bakery called Tartes. It’s cute, ~aesthetically pleasing for the ‘gram~, and has the best key lime pie I have ever tasted. Honestly treat yourself to this one, it’s a good find.
  3. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO – Please please please take yourself, take your family, take your friends, your partners and go watch this. It is so incredibly VITAL whether you’re familiar with James Baldwin or a generally decent person. There is no shortage of conversations to be had on the subjects that plague our society.
  4. The Faimount Park Horticultural Center – I could spend all day in here. Humble, open space, calming greenery, all the dappled sunlight and none of the cold. There are benches for you to sit on, and you can read, take pictures, or walk around. I find it very soul-soothing. I’ve also decided I could/probably should, live in a greenhouse.
  5. Take a day trip to Baltimore! A $15 bus will get you there. I love this city, it reminds me of Atlanta in so many ways. For those of you who don’t know me, my dad is half American and from there, so I visit often. Go to Maryland Institute of the Arts (MICA) campus and walk around. The art and architecture, bookstores, and the abandoned railway station are beautiful. There is also a place I discovered called R House. It’s an “industrial-chic” food court in an old warehouse and is run by 10 chefs who are looking to start restaurants. The space is for them to try their hand at it and, honestly, it’s so incredible. There’s Korean food, Arepas, Poke, smoothies, vegetarian and vegan options and desserts. I’m still dreaming about it.
  6. Back to Philly now: Menagerie Coffee — is a hip little place on 18 S 3rd St, also in the Old City. The tea is good; the vibes are better. The front of the shop has communal tables against a red brick wall, which are ideal for doing work. The last time I was in there, they were playing Solange’s album and it was warm and quiet. Get off campus, even if you feel drowned in work. You definitely don’t have to stay on campus to get it done.
  7. Take a trip to the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philly. I haven’t personally been here yet but it’s the top of my list, and I’ve been dying to go. Admissions is by donation and there are tours every 45 minutes (I believe). The gift store also has beautiful prints, many of which decorate my walls.

So friends, that is all I have for you today before we head into our well-deserved spring break. I hope your weekend is restful and next week passes fast. Happy spring (and maybe a passive aggressive reminder that global warming is not a myth).

Philly Beat: Valentine’s Day

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, our City of (Brotherly) Love really should not disappoint. Whether you’re looking for a cozy date night or a fun meal out with a few friends, there are plenty of activities, attractions, and eateries all around Philadelphia. This year’s Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday with celebrations and specials happening on both the surrounding weekends. I decided to put together a list of potentially romantic (?) places to go that will enable you to enjoy what Philly has to offer this weekend.

  1.     Spirit Cruises

Taking off from Penn’s Landing, Spirit cruises offer a two-hour cruise on the Delaware river, inclusive of a freshly prepared lunch buffet along with complimentary coffee, tea, iced tea, and water. On the cruise, you will be able to experience an incredible view of the Philadelphia skyline along with landmarks including the Naval Shipyard, Ben Franklin Bridge, Battleship New Jersey, the historic Olympia warship, and more. There is on board entertainment including a DJ that takes requests. They have both lunch and dinner cruises that vary in price, beginning at $33.

  1.     Race Street Pier

Situated right under the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the pier has the most incredible view of the Delaware river, and can be ideal for a picnic depending on the weather. Race Street Pier often hosts events throughout the year, so be sure to check for updates. Events include live music, classes, fireworks, and more.

  1.     One Liberty / City Hall Observation Deck

Head to either one of these observation decks for breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. One Liberty Observation Deck is on the 57th floor of Liberty Place with landscape views for miles. The deck also offers information on the history of Philadelphia and its evolution into a cosmopolitan American city. City Hall Observation Deck is known for its incredible view of the city, and stops right underneath the colossal statue of William Penn.

  1.     The Italian Market

Stroll through Philadelphia’s iconic Italian Market, and sample their amazing spread of charcuterie — fresh meats, cheeses, and other gourmet treats. There is a two-hour tour that includes meeting the local store owners, learning the history of the place, and stopping along the way for more samples. Purchase dinner items at DiBruno Bros for either a picnic or a cozy dinner at home.

  1.     Riverside Ice Skating

Located on Penn’s Landing, enjoy Winterfest at Blue Cross RiverRink. The atmosphere at Penn’s Landing is incredible with little places to eat right by the water. After ice skating, the lights and cozy places to sit will make it the ideal Valentine’s date place.

  1.     Classic Love / Amor Statue

As cliché as it sounds, the classic visit to the Philadelphia Love Statue is a foolproof idea. There are two located around Philly, the ‘Love’ statue and the ‘Amor’ statue, whichever is your preference.

  1.     Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-see for everyone, and if you have not visited yet, then this time of year is ideal. Get lost in the gallery during the day, or go on a Friday for their weekly event called “Art after 5” that turns a part of the museum into a cabaret, featuring different visiting artists from all over the nation. The events are usually free after admission, and there is an option to make a reservation to order tapas and drinks. Although a little after Valentine’s Day, Feb. 24 has some incredible artists and performances including a Silent Disco and a performance called “Love Hurts” by Revolution Shakespeare.

  1.     Mural Arts Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program tends to be very underrated. The murals are absolutely incredible with over 3600 pieces that have been developed over the past 30 years. There is a “Love Letter tour” that is incredibly popular and takes you on a train ride past a sequence of 50 love letters created by the artist Stephen Powers. Furthermore, on Feb. 11, they are hosting an event called SExSE Valentine’s Day Pop-Up, which is a Southeastern Valentine’s Day sale where visitors can purchase textiles, weaving, and all sorts of gifts from community members.


Reflections on a [potentially] New America: Philly in Action

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Philly Beat-2 Philly BeatWe’re tempted not to write about “fun things to do in Philly;” it almost seems trivial. But fun is something we all undoubtedly deserve in these times. The other night, as we were surrounded by an illuminated crowd of different races and ethnicities, jumping together and shouting the words to Kendrick Lamar’s “We Gon’ Be Alright,” we felt strange stirrings in our souls — unsure if it was recognition, or realization, or resignation; maybe all three. We were at the Foundry at the Fillmore Philadelphia, a venue Philly Beat has covered before (if you haven’t read that piece check it out, it’s pretty nice), being enchanted by rapper D.R.A.M’s wide-ass smile and his ability to make dirty things sound cute and innocent. Philadelphia was a getaway. For many other Swat people, the Women’s March on Philly (or even Washington) was their weekend getaway, joined by thousands of others who came together for collective empowerment and resistance, from all walks of life. And so the question is, what now? See all of you nice white ladies at the next Black Lives Matter march, right?

In all seriousness, many people in our community have been asking for ways to further involve themselves in meaningful, progressive ways. The good news is that in upcoming weeks, there is no shortage of organizing. For many people, political activism and advocacy have been integral parts of their work and Philly-experiences since long before the march(es). We’re almost 97% sure that if you are reading this you are far more politically versed than us, but here’s what Philly Beat has for you this week in terms of how to keep up the post-march momentum:

  1. As simple as it sounds, social media is a great place to look for events (see Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, your usual go-to’s). Activism-oriented students and campus organizations will often post in the official and unofficial class pages, but if you check your “Events Near Swarthmore, PA” tab, you may be able to find other free to low-cost planning meetings, protests, and workshops open to the public.
  2. The Lang Center for Social and Civic Responsibility is providing transportation funding for students to attend political events via SEPTA. Here’s a recent message from Executive Director Ben Berger: “We will support students without respect to political affiliation or partisanship. We are here to help you learn and engage with the world.”


What this means is that two main obstacles to involvement —knowledge of events and accessibility to those events — are made a bit less obstacle-y. The hosts of such meetups are a wide range of stakeholders in the Philadelphia community, such as arts and cultural centers, religious organizations, and immigrant advocacy centers, just to name a few. For example, yesterday the Arch Street United Methodist Church held a public discussion entitled “Let’s End Gerrymandering.” Later today, Jewish Voice for Peace and the People United USA are co-hosting a rally to surround the Loews Hotel — the site of the Joint Republican Retreat that is happening right at this moment. This week, from Jan. 23 to Jan. 28, is the Philly Educator’s Black Lives Matter Week of Action, sponsored by the The Caucus of Working Educators Racial Justice Committee. To make your involvement easier, they’ve scheduled a calendar of free events throughout the city.

So we proceed. Tonight there is a film screening of “The 13th” and community talkback entitled “the effects of mass incarceration on Black and Brown communities” (4301 Wayne Ave). Tomorrow there is a panel discussion called “Demystify Black Women and Black Girls: Misogyny, Stigma, and Power” (Univeristy of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education). On Saturday, Temple University is hosting a LGBTQ Youth Conversation about “Pariah” and “Moonlight.” The list goes on and on and so do the chances for continued education, listening, and collective brainstorming.


Ready to get your hands dirty, and looking specifically for opportunities to strategize? Repair the World: Philadelphia is hosting a workshop this Saturday afternoon by the name of “Escalating Political Resistance: Tactics for Racial Justice,” featuring representatives from the Philly Coalition For REAL Justice, Black and Brown Workers Collective, and the Philly War Tax Resistance. Afterwards head over to Chinatown and give Asian Arts Initiative a visit. We’re all encouraged to join the Philly Catalyst Project, New Sanctuary Movement, Reconstruction Inc., VietLead, and PA Working Families Party at a discussion on “Anti-Racist Strategies to Out-Organize Trump.” Whether or not you currently consider yourself a part of the city’s action community, the doors to these events are open to you and we promise, easily findable via your Facebook search bar.


Yes, there’s a lot of work to do, a lot of causes to stand by, a lot of emotions to process. But for that very reason, we believe that now is the time to get involved, especially if you have the emotional capacity, energy, and positionality to do so. It starts with listening, and for those who want to know to get started; we have one parting quote from Muslim-American activist Linda Sarsour’s speech from last weekend’s March on Washington:


“If you want to know if you are going the right way, follow women of color, sisters and brothers. We know where we need to go, and we know where justice is. Because when we fight for justice, we fight for it for all people for all our communities ”


See you all in the City of Brotherly [and Sisterly] Love soon.

Protests in Philly offer space for students

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In the days following the recent election of Donald Trump, many members of the college community have contested the value of protesting and whether it serves as a positive outlet for public discourse or delays long-term progress.

Just after the results of the election were announced, the Anti-Racist Coalition of Swarthmore sent out an email containing a number of different protests that were planned in the greater Philadelphia area over the following days. ARCS, a multi-racial student group focused on discussion and action for issues surrounding racial justice, did not directly facilitate these protests, but chose to compile the list to provide easier access to this information.

From People United’s “Love Trumps Hate” to Philadelphia Socialist Alternative’s “Resist Trump” protest, there were several opportunities for members of the campus community to express their feelings concerning the election.

Many Swarthmore students attended these protests for many different reasons. Some people reported that the marches were cathartic for them.

ARCS member Sonja Dahl ’18  attended Our 100 Feminist March, which was centered around reproductive rights and women’s rights. Dahl recounted the communal atmosphere of the protest and noticed an awareness among protestors of the intersectionality between gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientations and how this presidency will affect different people.

“We wanted to say, ‘This is wrong; we won’t stand for this.’ While we can always do better, I think this protest was organized very well. It was very angry and [holding it] at night changed the mood further,” said Dahl.

Although many students enjoyed their experience at the protests, some questioned how productive they would be.

Marian Mwenja ’20 attended the “Resist Trump” march, noting that, while the atmosphere was one of very high energy, she doubted its efficacy.

“I don’t think protesting in the streets is the most effective use of energy. In my experience, it feels really good in the moment, but then, you go home, and it’s over. I think it brings attention to a certain issue but doesn’t always result in actual change unless there are enough people to actually override the system,” said Mwenja.

Sarah Dobbs ’18, another member of ARCS, resonated with Mwenja’s agreement, noting that, while protests are a major way to vocalize discontent, it is essential to create a balance between protesting and working on a lot of other fronts. Several students are pushing for more centralized action by forming concrete action steps, organizing, and standing in solidarity with one another.

“It was very empowering to be able to shout so loudly and say, ‘We’re not okay with this.’ Protests alone aren’t going to change this. I get frustrated with my friends who turn out to protests but think the work stops there. Especially for individuals of privileged identities, I think it’s really selfish to go home and retreat. You may not have to think about this stuff because it doesn’t affect you, but it’s on all of us,” said Dobbs.

While the role of protests in the present political climate may need to be reevaluated, some, including Gabriel Brossy de Dios ’20, believe moving forward and protesting are not mutually exclusive events.

“A lot of the protests that have been going on right now might have been expressing anger as one of the main goals. I think that, going forward, there can be a role for protests to get political change. They need to be more coordinated, have clear goals, and I think, if they are to be more strategic, they can be pretty effective,” said Brossy de Dios.

Aru Shiney-Ajay ’20 recently helped organize a series of emergency meetings focused on coalition building to create systematic change during the rise of Trump. Creating this change can take many forms, whether it’s organizing around the school’s policies, working with local political organizations in Philadelphia, increasing civic engagement, or even creating art with a focus on activism. For those who wish to be involved in this “other side of the revolution,” opportunities outside of protests are becoming more readily available.

Walnut Hill and Knafeh are good for your soul

in Campus Journal/Philly Beat/Uncategorized by

This past weekend we took a train ride down to 49th street and made our way to this little treasure I discovered with my roommate my freshman year. It’s an Ethiopian restaurant called Abyssinia that is warm, unassuming, and depending on what time you go, is either calming and quiet, or packed and alive with groups of people anywhere from 2 to 10. This is the kind of food that is meant for sharing. It’s also an incredible amount of food for an extremely reasonable price; I have never been there with anyone who has left still hungry. This is not a restaurant review (although I guess it kind of is), but the point I want to make is that this is one of many beautiful little places in Philly that you can escape to. Take your friends, leave your work, don’t think about this place. You are more than a student and you DO deserve a break and you DEFINITELY deserve good food (but no shade because let’s be real, Donnie is the only reason most of us come to school).  After leaving the restaurant, we took a walk around the corner and realized that there is a multitude of Ethiopian restaurants all clustered in that area; so if Abyssinia doesn’t do it for you – you have options.

Dusk is one of my favourite times to walk around a city. Things start to quiet down and come alive at the same time, the energy shifts and the light changes, and if I’m surrounded by good people, I always settle myself into nostalgic contentedness. We walked in and out of thrift stores boasting old board games and fake corn and what appeared to be a plastic jar of honey filled with dirt and rocks(?).

At home (the U.A.E.), large dinners are typically followed by sitting around and drinking Moroccan tea, smoking shisha and eating Arabic sweets. As we wandered the streets I started to feel homesick for familiarity and we walked into another wonderful place called Manakeesh Café Bakery. We ordered two pots of Moroccan tea and a plate of Knafeh (if you haven’t had Knafeh you’re not living, I can honestly devour BOXES of it). We sat at a little round table under string lights and ate, talked and poured tea and it felt good; we didn’t want to leave. So here’s my little plug again – there a
re so many magical, obscure, low key things to do in Philly and I love sharing them with you, and you deserve to take time off and experience them. Don’t let school take over your life. Fall break is so close friends! You survived half a semester! Celebrate it – that’s a lot, and you are resilient.


SwatDeck connects community via Philly

in Around Campus/Campus Journal by


Most people would consider Swarthmore to be a small school, with a student body of only 1,500 students. While this small population makes it harder to avoid the people you have awkward relationships with, it can still be hard to meet new people outside of classes, sports, or other activities. Most students consider themselves quite adventurous, tackling rigorous workloads and seeing how close they can come to a paper deadline while still optimizing their grade. Despite this love for adventure, many  students find themselves staying on campus while they could be exploring the amazing city of Philadelphia only 35 minutes away by SEPTA, with a station right on campus. As an opportunity for Swatties to connect and to explore Philadelphia at no cost. Brennan Klein ’14, Isaac Opoku ’14, Emma Kates-Shaw ’16, and Raven Bennett ’17 created SwatDeck. SwatDeck is a program where students are matched with other Swarthmore students in groups of four. Once in a group, they are given money and SEPTA day passes, then are given free range on how they would like to spend the day together.

“I would say that the genesis of the idea for SwatDeck was from a SwatDeck-esque scenario. Emma, Isaac, Raven and I were all serendipitously hanging out, talking about definitions of “space” and got onto this idea of Swatties-not-hanging-out-with-Swatties-enough. This was timed well with the Community Development Grant, and we ended up winning it that winter (2014),” Klein said.

Eriko Shrestha ‘19, who is a part of the team organizing SwatDeck for the 2016 year, shared how students are split up into groups based on their responses to questions when filling out the informational sign up sheet for SwatDeck.

“We look at their responses and then try to even out groups out based on their year, majors, etc. Five of us do it together so that we have a better idea of the friend circles and we try to put people into groups of strangers,” said Shrestha.

“We wanted to build an easy way for students to learn from and listen to one another. We wanted to inspire new perspectives through unexpected conversations. In the end, we wanted to transmit a mindset that probably checks all the boxes of Millennial Cliché Bingo: embrace serendipity, meet new people, carpe that diem,” Klein said.

Bilige Yang ’19 participated in the program for the first time this year and fell in love with the serendipity and was happily surprised to have the opportunity to explore Philadelphia.

I did not know there are so many amazing places in Philly. I like Philly more after this trip … we got to see places all of us had always wanted to see, the Magic Garden and the Old Street and it was also relaxing since it was like a day off. It is not much different compared to going out with friends,” Yang said.

Yang said that he signed up for SwatDeck to meet people he would not have met otherwise.

“The three other people in my group were all seniors and hanging out with them made me feel connected to the Swat community … It is indeed hard to meet people outside my friend group and I joined SwatDeck to make more friends,” Yang shared.

Hanan Ahmed ’19 enjoyed how SwatDeck allowed her to hang out with Swatties while also distracting her from her work in a very fun and guiltless way.

I remember thinking, this is ridiculous … I’m in the middle of the city with a group of people I just met. I should be doing work today, what am I doing? No, it’s okay, I’m not spending any money on this trip. Oh, let’s get boba tea,” Ahmed said.

Daniel Dellal ’18 enjoyed how SwatDeck enabled students to meet people outside of their own friend group and embark on new adventures in Philadelphia.

“I thought it was nice to be allowed to participate in a program where I was with people I’d never met before, which is something you don’t experience often at swat, and also that there was no set plan to it, they pretty much hand you a train ticket and $20 and let you do anything you want,” Dellal said.

SwatDeck was a huge success this year, with a lot of students giving positive feedback and over 100 students signing up to take part in the program. The large number of participants even surprised the program’s original founders.

I think from Emma’s reaction, she didn’t expect that level of participation. We were only planning to do it for two days, but there were so many people we added a third,” Shrestha said.

In the midst all of our work as we near the end of the semester, SwatDeck provides a fun and  accessible way to escape the Swat bubble while making new friends and going on new adventures. SwatDeck continues to grow and has done a wonderful job bringing together students who would have otherwise not met and providing them with a great opportunity to delve into Philly without worrying about who will be there or what you will do. It’s the adventure almost every student wants constructed, organized, and funded by the SwatDeck committee.


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