Friday, July 27, 2012


If I had to compare today to the last day of regular school, I would have to say that it was harder to part with this program; mainly due to the fact that many of my classmates live in entirely different countries and I most likely will not be seeing the majority of my new friends after tomorrow morning.  Although we spent some time, near the end of class, reflecting on the last four weeks and saying our goodbyes, Prof. Lamas spent a large portion of the time teaching us about alternative currencies.

One way that many communities throughout the U.S. and cities in other countries are building their communities is by straying away from dollar bills and circulating new currency that is specific to their area.  Cities like Ithaca, NY, Berkshares, Massachusetts, Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, Japan have all adopted this method of alternative currency as a way to bring prosperity to their communities.  People feel extremely comfortable with this because this way they know where the money is going and, in turn, they are able to create closer relationships with people in their communities.  The less economic stress that people feel, the more they are able to focus on helping others, and having alternative currencies relieves that pressure.  In a film that we watched on this topic, the alternative currency is still paper money but the images printed on them are of local significance, giving the users of this currency a stronger sense of community.  Many local markets, restaurants, and other businesses in these cities accept about 10-100% of the alternative currency.  The banks within these areas have generously printed these notes and supported this method as well.  This idea relates back to the days of barter, but is more modernly adapted of course; however, the system in Greater Buenos Aires is more closely related to the past trade system.  When inflation rises too high, bartering takes over the community to bring it back up to speed.  In the film many people in that area talked about the great variety of goods provided at the station, and I thought that it was amazing how smoothly the process worked, and works, for them.  Maybe I could start some sort of alternative currency within my own community, although I am not sure exactly how well it would work out.  I do support this idea though, despite its cracks and complications, and I am so glad that Prof. Lamas used part of the last day of class to provide us with more interesting information and develop deep discussion.  

Iris and I being silly
I cannot believe the day has come that we have to go back home!  I am very excited to see my family again and sleep in my own bed, but I will dearly miss my Social Justice class here at the University of Pennsylvania.  Today in class, I was imagining how I would feel after a week back at home, and I knew that not long after I got back, I would wish I was back East again.  This thought made me appreciate and love every minute of class today, even more than I normally do.  I have absolutely LOVED taking this course and meeting Andrew Lamas, Michael, and Nantina who is one of our T.As.  I cried a little when we were saying goodbye because, even though I have most of my classmates on Facebook, I don't know when I will ever see any of them again, and that is the saddest thought going through my mind right now.  I will make sure to keep in touch with everyone though, and I wish I lived in Philadelphia so I could take classes with Prof. Lamas in the Fall!  I am very jealous of the residential students right now, but I can always email Andy whenever I have any questions or anything.  I cannot believe how wonderful our teachers and guest speakers were in this class!  They are all truly incredible people and I hope that I can effectively use my widened perspective to create change in my own community back in California.  Goodnight Philadelphia, I will miss you so much.

Sappy, (Sad + Happy)

Today, everybody was excited for the day to end, so that they can go home. Or this is what they thought before that day had a chance to progress. We began class with our Hershey Park presentations. I loved how everybody integrated a video of their ride, which made me feel as if I rode.  I am definitely coming back to Pennsylvania to ride all the rides at Hershey because they made them look like so much fun.

After that, things became emotional. Eli kick started the emotions by talking our future, Penn, and the number one determining factor of everything we ever attempt to do in life: determination. He included an example of Ben Franklin with his speech, which is customary whenever he talks about Penn. Then he put us on the spotlight by talking about our blogs, which made me feel a rush of joy. He then went on to talk about one of my previous blogs, Swimming With Dolphins, and what a coincidence it was that it was nearly identical to the Penn Summer Motto, Swim With Dolphins. I then was given a post of the Penn Summer program, which I now regret placing at the bottom of my suitcase because I forgot to take a picture. I almost forgot, I need to give a shout-out to Alec because he asked for it and he reads my blogs.

Emotions hit everyone when Bill nearly cried while he was talking about the fun we had. Then thanks to Penny, we watched a slideshow of the whole summer. This was a very heart warming slideshow because it added on to memories of all fun we shared. I have to thank Brian for giving us a CD with everything we did over the course of the program. We then got a chance to know Bill from a powerpoint that showed the evolution of Bill, from prom to present. So as usual, we tried things up with a laugh. After class, everybody stayed to take a picture with the best physics professor ever, Bill. I even got him to sign my poster of Penn. Boy am I going to miss him.

Bill, The Best Physics Teacher Ever
After class, I went to my room to finish up packing. Once done, I had my final moments with some of the best people I have ever met. We spent our time talking about the great memories we shared along with a game of pool. Later that evening, we attended a special talent show and then watched our finally movie together, 21  Jumpstreet. Once the movie ended, we went back to the lounge and continued remenicing about how much fun we had together. Then the sad part came, floor time, where everybody said their final good-byes and hoped that we will meet again. It was a roomful of hugs and sadness. But apart from being sad, I am thankful for having the opportunity to have such a marvelous summer here at Penn.

Until then, let destiny bring those who were close, together in the future.


This morning I had a hard time getting up. Didnt get such a goodnight sleep , so I found myself waking up at about 8:30. As soon as I woke up , I took a deep breath and said two more days. I Suddenly felt overjoyed but at the same time sad(bittersweet). The people that I have come to know so well and that I finally got comfortable with , would be leaving and so would I. Possibly never to see again in life , with the only communication being a non expressing cellular phone or computer. After all the deep thought off I was to class.

Today we had two guest speakers , one by the name Judith baker , who is a a lawyer and a social worker who also works with the HIAS foundation. She spoke on the topic of of immigration , as that was the topic for the latter part of the week. She specifically gave us information on Asian immigration , along with the reasons that there is immigration. Our second speaker , Javier Hernandez , spoke on the topic of Mexican immigration. He shared many personal stories regarding this topic and also shared a lot of opinions of the immigration laws , facts and statistics.

Today we were not having lunch at Penn. We made our voyage to Juntos. This is a Latino immigrant community that fights for human rights as workers, youth, parents , and of course immigrants. This was basically a continuation of the morning session.We got a chance to speak with some of the students that were being mentored . This young lady explained her experiences being an immigrant and becoming accustomed to the U.S. Going through High school , she explained how she was always bullied because of her accent, and it came to a point were she wanted to go back. Her mom forced her to back because she knew it was best for her. through her perseverance she graduated high school. Another hard point in her life was that all her friends were applying for colleges and seldom asked her if she had got any acceptances.  The answer for her would be no because she hadn't applied to any because she was un-documented. That meant no support from the government and she would actually be paying double what a regular american would pay for college. So if tuition was 60,000 , she would be paying 120,000. With high aspirations of  going to college she had to choice the cheapest route, and is going to be attending community college this fall.

I truly learned a lot today, and was glad to be able to learn from so many different people.

Clear Eyes Full Hearts

When I first walked into the David Rittenhouse Laboratory four weeks ago, I must confess to some butterflies about spending so much time away from home, studying with intimidatingly smart people from around the world. Now it’s time to leave, and I find that I don’t want to go. I feel so lucky to have spent this time with my incredible peers, at a beautiful university, with such good teachers. I may not ever see most of these people ever again, but I know that they’ve helped shape me into a new person over the past four weeks.
Today, the Hershey Park groups gave presentations about each of their rides. My group analyzed the wooden coaster Wildcat. We showed graphs of our acceleration in the x, y, and z directions (side to side, height, longitudinal) and explained how they related to the altitude graph, which was basically a schematic of the ride itself. We also did a little algebra to find the maximum speed and acceleration. Each group had presentations similar to ours, but each group added their own twist to the presentation. Some groups focused more on calculations, while others compared their own data with the statistics offered on the Hershey Park website. Each presentation was unique and easy to understand. I thought that every group did a good job presenting their data in a clear, concise format.
Saying goodbye to Ryan and Craig

After the presentations, it was time for the farewell speeches. Eli popped in to thank us for a wonderful summer and wish us luck in our future endeavors. He also thanked Bill for being such an amazing educator, at which point we all burst out clapping. Bill also gave a brief speech about how much this program means to him.
He told us that we were all wonderful people and that we should never lose sight of the things within ourselves that matter to us. He also thanked Ryan, Craig, and Penny for helping him make this program possible, as he is “not a responsible adult.” If Bill is the definition of an irresponsible adult, then I definitely want to be one when I grow up. His combined passions for teaching and physics are inspirational, and his teaching style helped make modern physics fun and accessible over the past four weeks.

Bill also included a surprise announcement in the middle of his speech–a shout out to the ILC, telling our classmates to check out our blogs to find out what kind of horrible rumors we were spreading about them throughout the month. I was also startled to discover that Bill, Ryan, Craig, and Penny have been reading our blogs ever since the program started; I hope that they’ve enjoyed them. If you are reading this now, thank you for an amazing four weeks at PSSA. All of you are wonderful teachers, and you made my summer one-of-a-kind.

I felt like the whole program was over when class ended, but we still had an entire afternoon on our hands. I finished packing, went to Pod for dinner with Christine, Clara, and two of my floormates, and attended the talent show. My floor screamed especially loudly when Rosemary, who lives a few doors down, gave a heart-wrenching rendition of A Time To Say Goodbye. Her incredible talent aside, it was a nice change to hear something new after so many pop songs. I also found her selection particularly appropriate, as we’re all going our separate ways tomorrow. Mr. Lawrence is going to pick us up at 8 AM to do a little sightseeing before heading to the airport.

I will miss my roommate, my classmates, and my teachers, but although I’m sad to be leaving, I can’t help feeling so thankful and happy that this happened at all. Everyone here had such a unique perspective on the world and I learned so much from them all. Thanks to everyone who made it possible for me to be here, at UPenn, learning physics with the coolest teacher in the world and the best classmates ever. I leave with clear eyes and a heart full of the experience of a lifetime.

Bill and the PSSA chapter of the Penn cohort

The Grand Finale

This morning in class, we were the teachers.  Our subject: roller coasters.  Each of the nine groups presented the roller coaster they rode at Hershey Park.  I was very proud of my group's presentation, and we got to go second, which made the rest of the morning way more relaxing.  I enjoyed watching each presentation, learning the characteristics of each ride, and seeing the different approaches that groups took to analyze their data. 

When all the presentations were done, Eli came by to talk about Penn and our possible futures here.  He also took the opportunity to mention our blogs to everyone.  If any of you are actually reading this, thank you! You make me happy.  Then Bill gave a sentimental closing speech.  He has been quite the inspiration these past four weeks, and it's clear to see how much he loves what he does.  To finish up, we got some more NASA-related things from Penny.  Then, we watched a slide show of Bill through the years, a very light note to end our last day of class.

I ate an early dinner at Pod with Mariko, Christine, and a few other friends before the Summer Discovery talent show at 6.  Everyone here, despite being incredibly intelligent, is amazingly talented, and the show was quite entertaining.  For the rest of the evening I watched 21 Jump Street on a huge projector screen in the quad and ate pizza.

Everything today had a "last" attached to it. "This is the last time we'll eat lunch here." " This is the last time we have to sign in." "This is my last piece of pizza."  It didn't really hit me until today that this experience is ending.  Of course it will have lasting effects, but I will never get to sit in class and watch Bill do a demo with this same group of people ever again.  I am so thankful for this past month, and it is something I will never forget.  Still, I am excited to see my family tomorrow and experience Bay Area weather again.  As long as I can get my sheets and pillow into my suitcase tomorrow morning, it should be a smooth day of travel, and a nice homecoming.

Smile Because It Happened

Today was a very exciting day for everyone, it was the last day of classes! I stopped by Einstein Bros to get a bagel and stock up on retail items then went to class. I was very excited to learn that there would be no afternoon class today. The morning was spent on Hershey Park roller coaster data analysis presentations. I found all of the presentations to be very exciting. Of course the data was interesting, but my favorite part was seeing how each group put together a presentation on the same information. They were all so unique!

 Next came my absolute favorite part: the heartwarming, tearjerking speeches. Eli Lesser talked to us and repeatedly told us how remarkable each and every one of us is. He even mentioned the team of spies that has been blogging every single night of the trip. Yup that's right, he mentioned the Ivy League Connection. After Eli's truly inspirational speech came Bill's. Bill choked up during his speech and for me that really showed how dedicated he is to doing what he loves. When I saw Bill get emotional, it reminded me of a Dr. Seuss quote that can be applied to almost all "goodbye's" in life. "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." Yes, it's been a truly amazing journey over the course of four short weeks and the speakers today reminded us of all the hard work we put in, but that doesn't mean we have to be sad it's over. We also don't have to say goodbye just yet. It's more of a "see ya later" with hope that someday, somewhere we'll all cross paths again.

We ended our last class with a slideshow presentation of pictures from over the summer. It was really nice to see how the program played out in front of my eyes. When I sit back and think back to when I first entered the class, I can see how much I've grown.

To end the day there was a mandatory talent show which was very entertaining. I absolutely loved all of the acts! Who knew I was surrounded by so many musically inclined people? A few hours after the talent show, "21 Jump Street" was shown on a big inflatable screen in the quad. There was also food served, which was great since I didn't eat dinner.

I'm now sitting in my dorm getting ready to climb into my loft bed in Lippincott 108 for the last time to get a well-deserved 8+ hours of sleep. All day my mind has been exploring the growth that I've seen in myself in just four weeks. What really stuck with me today was how important determination is. Bill and Eli said that in order to distinguish ourselves from the  other thousands of people who will be competing for spots in college, we have to be really determined. Not everyone has had the chance to go study at an Ivy league school for a whole month. Like Bill said, we could be sitting at home playing video games like everyone else but instead we chose to dedicate our summer to physics, this already says a lot about us. If I keep going on, my reflection blog will just be a repeat of everything I'm saying now.

A little over a month ago I wrote in my departure blog how the next time you'd hear from me I'd be on the East Coast. Well the same is true this time around, except I'll be returning home.

Goodbye East Coast, it's been fun!