Street: What is the most interesting event you've attended with the Philomathean Society?
KK: We have this big event each year called the Annual Oration, and we bring in a prominent public intellectual. The spring of my freshman year, Philo had Richard Dawkins come talked about his latest book he had published. Afterwards, Philo had a private dinner with him. I sat next to him, and he pulled out his iPhone and showed a video of a dancing lemur. Later, he told us about the weird things he’s signed for people, like someone’s Bible or someone’s breasts. I believe he said “I’m not a breast man.”
Street: If you are what you eat, what are you?
KK: Probably an egg tart. It's a Cantonese dessert, I ate them occasionally when I was growing up but became addicted to them over the summer. I think I must have eaten at least a hundred? Maybe more.
Street: What was your first AIM screen name?
KK: lunalovegood101, after the Harry Potter character, obviously. I even had a pair of radish earrings that I wore to the midnight releases of the books… I was a big fan.
Street: Which Hogwarts house do you think you’d be sorted into?
KK: Definitely Hufflepuff. There’s something really nice about Hufflepuff. In the Hogwarts song Helga Hufflepuff says, “And I’ll teach the lot and treat them all the same." It feels very sweet and it would be a fun, inclusive, warm environment, even if everyone’s a little bit bumbling at times.
Street: We heard students apply to Philo in pretty bizarre ways. What is the most creative submission Philo has received?
KK: We have our own archive, and in that are some past submissions. There’s one 30–year–old pretzel that someone made in the shape of a “phi,” which is kept in a tiny box and is very well preserved. During my time in Philo, one of the weirder things we received really peculiar photo essays, like artful nudes or a step–by–step process of making dinner. No one’s ever submitted something like taxidermy, though. One limitation we have is that submissions can’t be alive or formerly alive.
Street: Who are some notable Penn Philo alumni?
KK: Something I always like to bring up is that two Philos created the first full English translation of the Rosetta Stone. Since then, we’ve had members who’ve become authors or get involved in Philadelphia–area politics, but nothing quite as big in pop culture. We did reject Ezra Pound, which is something I think we really regret, but maybe he had really bad poetry at the time.
Street: What’s the hardest part of being Moderator for Philo?
KK: Finding the balance between productive unproductivity and unproductive unproductivity. Philo meetings are an exercise in futility. Nothing happens in our regular meetings. We go through the whole Robert’s Rules of Order, but it’s kind of mocking. It's like a Monty Python sketch at times—it’s an elaborate inside joke, except nobody really knows what the joke is.
Street: What’s the deal with that gigantic stuffed bird that all the Oracle kids carry?
KK: His is name is Ori Cool. He came from a Dave and Buster's; one of the original classes had a social event there, and they pooled their tickets together to buy this seven–foot tall ostrich. Now, the new classes have to bring Ori around and get as many pictures with him as they can. It’s fun, because in running around campus trying to find who has Ori, you kinda have to learn people’s names and find out what they do.
Street: What was your special day with Ori like?
KK: I had the disadvantage of it being a super rainy day. So instead of finding other people, I set up a dating profile for Ori on OkCupid. It was fun! I got some seductive poses of him around Philo, and I made an artful composition with plastic lawn flamingos to go with his profile caption, “Single and ready to fla-mingle.” The first day, there were 50 new messages in my inbox!
Street: What do you find unique about the Asian Pacific American Leadership Initiative (APALI)?
KK: The Pan–Asian American Community House (PAACH) has three programs that it runs, PEER Mentoring program, APALI and Aspire. They’re all geared towards identity exploration looking at Asian American identity, especially on Penn’s campus and how that relates to a broader Pan ethnic identity.
Street: What is one of the more profound things someone has said to you in APALI sessions about identity?
KK: I’m very interested in multiracial identity. Growing up in a multicultural household, I didn’t necessarily think I could identify as Asian American. Coming to Penn I was glad to get involved with PAACH as it was this Pan-Asian identity group that I hadn’t had a chance to seek out in the past. I think there was a couple conversations I had with my own APALI facilitator who was also half–asian, and we talked about this idea that maybe your heritage can be a bit confusing but you’re not confused. There is a niceness to the balance of different cultural identities.
Street: If you could have a drink with anyone in history, who would it be?
KK: Probably Vincent Van Gogh. I love Van Gogh. I had a huge crush on him. I wrote my entire Common App essay about why I loved art museums because it was like speed-dating, but I was always coming home to me and Vincent.
Street: Kill, Fuck, Marry - Amy Gutmann, the Quaker mascot, Kweder.
KK: Wait, who’s Kweder?
Street: Kenn Kweder?! The guy who plays at Smokes' on Tuesdays?
KK: I’ve never actually had the proper Smoke’s experience yet. I’ve eaten their pizza, but besides that…
Street: That’s it. We're giving you an assignment - you have to have a Smokes' Tuesday. But now that you know who Kweder is, answer the KFM question.
KK: I’d probably marry Amy G. There’s something really attractive about a woman in charge. I don’t know if it’s fair to pass judgment on Kenn right now. He’s probably a decent guy. I don’t think I could say I would fuck the mascot, but I also haven’t ever seen Kenn, I guess it’s a tossup. I’ll leave that to a coin flip.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
KK: People who follow my instagram, and people who are #irrelevant to my ~*~social media persona~*~.