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Picture this: You're having a nice meal with your friends, squeezing in your morning caffeine kick, or connecting with the world around you on a nice stroll. The group of people behind you, deep in conversation, is speaking just loud enough for your gossipy little spidey senses to pick up a word or two. Riveted, you continue to listen, maybe raising your eyebrows at your companion across the table so they fall silent and you can get the real 411 on the deepest and darkest secrets of unassuming Becky sitting behind you.
Coco Chanel famously said, "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off." Coco sure knew her tweeds and pearls, and the archetypal, streamlined, sophisticated Chanel woman would still probably turn her nose up at many of our cluttered wrists and jangling keyrings. But, just as some would argue that Thanksgiving is all about the sides or that the Super Bowl is all about the commercials, accessories are often the key to making a look tick. Before we had any notion of personal style, many of us chose accessories as a channel for expression: homemade friendship bracelets denoting our strongest ties, pierced ears looked upon with envy as a signal of growing up, playground weddings under the slide, complete with a Ring Pop.
This summer was, undeniably, one for the girls; the streets were swathed with all shades of pink after the release of filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s impossibly highly–anticipated Barbie, pop icon Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour brought colorful summer–camp–style beaded bracelets and frothy fantasy adult dress–up to the cultural main stage, and a TikTok–fueled tidal wave of trends hopped off–screen as we packaged our walks, dinners, and aesthetics under the umbrella of all different kinds of “girl”–iness. Female joy and community felt tangible this summer more than ever, and in many ways it feels like a relief a long time coming: Finally, the economic, cultural, and social space for women to express and enjoy themselves doesn’t require any kind of fight or justification. This time, the magnitude of the forces embedded in these creative and cultural celebrations of a collective girlhood experience speak for themselves.
Through his avid engagement with the Penn performing arts community, notably as chair of Penn Players and member of the Performing Arts Council board, Tommy Christaldi (C ‘23) carved out his own path here at Penn. Dedicating most of his time to helping others do the same as a peer leader in the College and tour guide for the Kite & Key Society, the self–described talker also found his place on– and offstage. Hopefully, we’ll see him on a bigger stage in the not–too–distant future, fulfilling his dream of being a late–night talk show host.
You may know it as the best place to SABS on a sunny day or ground zero for every student group and their requisite free* Insomnia Cookies, but the Arts, Research, and Culture House is more than just a pretty face. The building has long been a pillar of Penn’s rich multicultural community, housing minority affinity groups such as La Casa Latina, the Pan–Asian American Cultural House, and MAKUU, Penn’s Black cultural center. Since it opened in 2014, ARCH has become a hub not only for each respective community, offering programming and events relating to particular cultural identities, but also for groups of students to foster a sense of belonging within and without the physical space.
Hailing from less than an hour outside of Philly, Jack Franklin has certainly made the most of his four years at Penn, rising to leadership positions in both the A Cappella Council and Counterparts A Cappella. For those wondering, the Penn a cappella scene is only a little bit like Pitch Perfect, and there are unfortunately no Riff–Offs. Aside from leading tours for Kite and Key, an experience he says is “always the highlight of my week,” Jack takes initiative within his school, leading in Wharton Cohorts and serving as the vice president of Wharton Alliance. Most characteristically, though, Jack makes sure to perfectly combine his creative and more academic passions, because what's life without a little music?
“Women, life and freedom! Women, life, and freedom!”
Gen Z is no stranger to political upheaval. Born into a world grappling with major tectonic shifts in the domestic and international political landscapes, we’ve spent our formative years immersed in a culture reckoning with its checkered past, tumultuous present, and uncertain future. The news cycle has become so rife with period–defining bombshells that we’ve adapted, out of necessity, a sense of insulation from the world around us.
In 2019, Street profiled an up–and–coming chef who was creating major buzz in Hill College House. And it's no mistake that same young talent has been featured once again in this season's Dining Guide. A young first–year Joel Olujide (W '23) would take over the Hill fourth floor kitchen every week, cooking up complex meals to fulfill fellow students' orders from a few days prior. Joel's passion for cooking has shaped every day of his time at Penn, from accidentally setting off the Hill fire alarm to his upcoming anniversary plans for his girlfriend.
For English major and literary enthusiast James Chang (C ‘22, Law ‘26), there probably aren’t many things that are “hard to define.” A graduate of both the College’s Creative Writing concentration and PPE major, he’s pretty much a wordsmith extraordinaire. When it comes to describing the ex–Editor in Chief of the Penn Review, however, I find myself struggling to encapsulate the James Chang I’ve just met. In conversation he’s exceedingly articulate, soft–spoken, and thoughtful, possibly a result of having cut his teeth in the notoriously intense New York City prep school debate circuit.
Like some of the best things in life, Emma Van Zandt’s (C ‘22) journey at Penn began entirely by accident: The now–visual studies major from Annandale, Va. was looking for a place to eat in University City after sitting in on a class at Drexel University. At the time, she was sure that her college experience would be spent at a studio art institution, and her interest in Drexel’s design school brought her to Philadelphia in November of her senior year, “way past all the ED deadlines.”
Name: Nathaniel Hess
In 2020, Merriam–Webster dictionary chose “pandemic” as its word of the year, and it’s hard to argue with that. In fact, given the way that it's followed us around relentlessly for the last few years, one could argue that it’s more the word of an era. Or, if you ask Max Strickberger (C ‘22) and Alan Jinich (C ‘22), the word of a generation.
Sundays, I’ve come to realize, are a polarizing day. Some might say it’s the scariest day of the week, when all the impending responsibilities you’ve spent the past 48 hours tastefully dodging to make room for the pursuit of the finer things in life come back like ghosts of weekdays past to haunt you. Especially here, on a college campus that's essentially a petri dish for the ubiquitous Sunday scaries, Sundays are regarded with a certain kind of wary disdain.
Dr. Brian Peterson first set foot on Penn's campus in 1989 as an undergraduate student looking to study engineering. More than 30 years later, after earning a master's and Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Education, Peterson is still here. Now the director of Makuu: The Black Cultural Center on campus, as well as a lecturer in the Africana and Urban Studies departments, Peterson reflects on his path with the ever–present realities of race dynamics of our society in mind. In a conversation that began on the tail end of Black History Month but remains perennially relevant, Peterson sheds light on Makuu, Penn's impact on the greater Philadelphia community, and how we as a university reflect difficult truths about our nation.
Tyson Bee's Street Food (Franklin Field)
Name: Sam Braffman
Ask pretty much anybody what they’re most excited for when they go home for break, and you’ll hear the same few things: showering without shoes (something we’ve all come to realize is an indispensable luxury), their own bed (so long, egg–crate mattress pad—you’ll definitely not be missed), and the food.
At Williams Cafe, the student–run coffee shop that dominates the first floor of Williams Hall, the coffee is strong, the chatter is incessant, and the energy is buzzing. It’s really one of those places that people tend to stumble into one day and never look back.
“Love conquers all.” “All you need is love.” “Love wins.”