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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Exploring and Celebrating

The cohort wanted to start the day by eat out for breakfast at Dunkin' Donut and Starbucks. We went to the quad near our class and waited for our professors. When our professors came, everyone had to form a circle and then we did some Qi Gong. We split up and followed our teaching fellows to either a lecture or a field trip down to North Philadelphia. This was not my first time taking the SEPTA train  as Mr. Hillyer has taken us on the SEPTA train on Fourth of July. We took the Northbound train to North Philadelphia and got off by Germantown. The professor showed us around the neighborhood and told us to observe everything that we passed by. The neighborhood reminded me of some of the neighborhoods in Richmond and Oakland.

We walked to the Village of Arts and Humanity and there were three parks that were built for the children in the neighborhood. Each park had a different theme and each theme correlated to the neighborhood. Our guide talked about what influenced the parks and how it can influence the community. He also introduced us to the program he worked in and informed us about the programs that they offer to children within the neighborhood and outside the neighborhood. The program serves to get them more involved with their own neighborhood and others too. Once participants have accomplished something in the program or community they can get a badge and slowly build up their badge collection which will then earn them recognition as a community leader.

Painted by Lily Yeh who attended UPenn 
Later, after the tour, we had to walk about four blocks to get to the SEPTA station. The interesting fact about this walk was that the neighborhoods change very fast. On one side of the street, the houses could look poorly maintained but on the other side of the street, the houses could look very nice and well maintained. It's almost like there's something that is separating the community apart from each other. I don't know the reason for this but I would like to look more in depth about this and study it further.

The pillars represent the trees around the park

Mural in one of the parks
After coming back, we only had an hour to eat lunch. Chiamaka, Jun, Elexis, and I rushed to get an ice cream cake at Ben and Jerry's so that we could surprise Mr. Hillyer since his birthday is coming up and we were going to go eat dinner with him. We rushed to get it to the restaurant we were eating at so that we could surprise him in the evening.

Following this, we went to class and made it on time. This class session was a lecture and Professor Lamas wanted the lesson to focus on Capitalism and Liberalism. He gave us a hand out with quotes from some famous 17th century philosophers such as John Locke. The US is a capitalist nation so it was interesting to see how the two could relate to social justice. According to John Locke, whatever a worker makes, it should be his and his own. Locke was trying to prove that Feudalism did not work and wanted to change the people's mind. We talked about when and how capitalism works and also how capitalism carried out the abolishment of slavery. The existence of slavery played a huge part in the society in the past and in the present. It is because of slavery in the past that we are able to get to where we are now. One of the professors speaking made a statement and said, "the American Revolutionary fought to fight England but slavery becomes the foundation of America." I thought that this was a very powerful statement because I have always thought that the Founding Fathers were the ones who worked the hardest but in reality, others have worked harder yet they receive little to no recognition. This is truly sad but there's nothing that can be done about it. Unless we continue to educate those around us, they will never know the truth.

When the lecture session ended, many went into their little small groups and talked freely about our thoughts about what we did in the morning and afternoon. Many of the conversations were built on what people had said before and some were very powerful. The professors joined the small group I was in and challenged us to think. A lot of the issues were about racial issues in the African-American community. We continued to talk about this until 5:30 PM. As much as the professors and students would love to continue the conversation, people had to leave.

Jun, Chiamaka, and Elexis decided to dress up and everyone followed them. We thought that it would be hilarious to dress up while Mr. Hillyer was casually dressed. He did not know that we had planned to take him out to dinner and thought that it was a casual hang out. We went to this BBQ place called Baby Blue BBQ near the campus. I ordered some Memphis-Style Ribs and pulled pork with baked beans and mashed sweet potatoes. After we were done eating, we ordered "dessert" which was the cake. Mr. Hillyer was very surprised about the cake and made a short speech. It turns out the waitress from the afternoon did not put the cake in the freezer and instead put it into the refrigerator so the cake lost its form but melted ice cream still tastes good! We have raised the bars so next years cohort is going to have a tough time beating this!

To the best chaperone
We decided to do laundry tonight and have a semi "blog party" but in my dorm. Everyone showered first before doing laundry and then we all met up at the laundry room. Since we had to wait for our laundry and it was hot in the laundry room, we decided to go to my dorm since my dorm mate was not there and start on our blog while waiting for our laundry.

After laundry, the day pretty much ended and all of us parted ways. I really like the social justice sessions when it's about controversial topics or philosophical ideals. Today was a mixture of economics, sociology, and discovery. I am looking forward to see what the next three weeks hold.

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