Category Archives: Health Care

Grant Wei: Blinking Through Memories



Photography and Text by Grant Wei, Copyright 2018




On a warm morning, my grandmother opens the elevator door to give a warm embrace to her childhood friend, who had visited Beijing for professional reasons.

“How long has it been?” she exclaims. “Blink of an eye, and here we are.” She seats herself and her guest on her well-dusted couch from earlier in the morning. The TV had been left on, leaving a quiet rumbling of a CCTV news anchor to an otherwise quiet room.

Twenty years from their last reunion, my grandmother and her friend had much to talk about. But, at the same time, not much has changed. They still worked the same jobs as they did twenty years ago, still married to the same people, still had the same dulled idiosyncrasies they had when they were living in another form of government housing in Hunan.

They talked and talked, until she left. And then, they never had a chance to speak again.

We live our lives creating one memory to the next, letting some memories fade into nothingness as we make room for more memories in our life. It cycles. And cycles. And before you realize, you have lived your life without room to make new memories.

One moment, you are practicing violin in front of a mirror. The clothes you were wearing were the clothes that no longer fit on your cousin. Your haircut was… not cute. Nothing is quite on your mind because your stresses, in retrospect, weren’t really stresses at all. They were at the time. But grades, games, girls — why did you ever care as much as you did?


You got into Penn. It is, supposedly, the happiest moment of your life. But you are overwhelmed with the sensation that you don’t deserve to get in. You tell your best friends and your parents, giving them a quick call on the phone after storming out of the cafeteria during PMEA Regional Orchestra with tears in your eyes. You were happy then.


Now, you are writing about memories as if putting things down on a page could potentially free you from the cycle of blinking through your life. Things have happened to you. Friends were made and losts. Goals were realized and abandoned. But somehow, through it all, you still anchor yourself to the same memories that have created your identity.

And so it goes..


About The Author: Grant Wei is a Sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Grant Wei, click here


Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Environment, Photography, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography

Anisha Arora: Shoes


Photo: Anisha Arora, Copyright 2018


Photography and Text by Anisha Arora, Copyright 2018








When talking about Lewis W. Hine, one of the photographers included in the book, the author writes that “he conceived of the medium as a means of studying and describing the social conditions around him”. That is also how I aim to use the art of photography- to bring to light difficult truths that we often want to forget.

What I found truly intriguing while reading the book was the variations between photographers. Variations in their purpose/objective behind photography, as well as, variations in what they found worth capturing on camera. While some find fashion photography to be their calling, some find it interesting to capture the mundane routines of common people. Among all the photographers, I could most relate to Lewis W. Hine.

Hine wanted to use photography to drive social change, and his pictures were a celebration of people who had nerve, skill, muscle, and tenacity. He captured the common people. That’s what I want to achieve through my photographs. His picture of little children on the streets, reminded me of a picture (attached as a jpeg) I happened to click while walking on a street in Ethiopia in the town of Harar. The picture is of a small 7-8 year-old boy splashing water over his face to cool down in the terrible heat. This water is generally used to clean people’s shoes. This boy, like many other 5-12 year-old boys, is a “shoe-shine” boy. These children leave their homes in Ethiopia’s rural areas to work in the big cities as shoe-polishers. They stay in deplorable living conditions, often beg for food and money, have never seen a school classroom and are most likely physically and sexually exploited. They save a part of their meagre incomes to support their families back in the rural areas, who make next to nothing from agriculture. What I find beautiful about this picture is that the boy seems so happy splashing the water on his face. This is normal life for him- he has forgotten his miseries and adapted to life on the streets.

I lived in Ethiopia for a year before school, working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Prime Minister’s Office on strategy and policy projects aimed at improving incomes of smallholder farmers. I’m hoping that some of my organization’s projects can raise agricultural incomes, so that more children don’t have to leave their families and can have a normal childhood.


About The Author: Anisha Arora is enrolled in the Graduate program, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Anisha Arora, click here


Also posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, History, News, Photography, Politics, Travel, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students, Women

Eileen Ko: A Work of Heart




Photography, Text and Video by Eileen Ko, Copyright 2018




When I was thinking of a theme for this assignment, I wanted to take photographs of things I see and work with every day but do not take the time to really pay attention and consider their value. In addition, I wanted to photograph things that not everyone is familiar with– things that are common to me but not to all students. This was how I came to decide to focus my theme on medical supplies. My desire is to give my viewers an idea of what nursing is and how nursing students use these medical supplies during clinical to provide care to our patients.

According to the American Nurses Association, nursing is the “protection, promotion, and optimization of health” and the “facilitation of healing, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response.” In order to carry out this role, we need specific and proper instruments to help us provide care and obtain health information. I wanted to introduce the materials that I wear and use that give me a sense of identity and responsibility I have in influencing the patients’ health and ultimately their lives. For example, my hospital ID’s represent my identity, role, and devotion as a nursing student and future nurse to optimize my clinical experiences to improve my skills in providing competent care. Additionally, my watch explains that time is a critical factor in patient care. Every second is crucial. Every second precious. Every second requires us to never lose our edge and be on focus.

When I walk into the hospital twice a week for clinical, I experience the intense and various range of emotions. Joy in the successful birth of a newborn. Distressing emotions such as despair, fear, pain, discomfort, and frustration. To represent this wide range of emotions, I photographed some of the images against a black background to symbolize gloom and darkness. I photographed the rest of the images in bright light against a white background to depict happiness. I also added flower petals and leaves to symbolize the relentless hope that patients and families have in their desire for recovery.

Setting up the items in a particular way and the use of light were incorporated in the images. Each photograph required altering the lightings and editing the brightness and contrast to convey the various emotions attached to nursing, how we use equipment, and patient experiences.



About The Author: Eileen Ko is a Nursing student in her junior year at the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Eileen Ko, click here


Also posted in Blog, Documentary, Environment, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students, Women

Wenjia Guo: Architectural Gift


Photo: Wenjia Guo


Photography and Text by Wenjia Guo, Copyright 2018


Book Review


John Szarkowski:  Looking at Photographs


When I first got this book, I was wondering why we need to look at such a “history” book to learn photography. The book I rented from Cornell University first surprised me with its date due list, whose first reader rented it in 1984, ten years before I was born. This magical feeling seemed to have nothing to do with photography technique, but related to the most important thing I absorbed from the book — the historical significance of photo selection, which I understand as real important.

The first time I read Looking at Photographs, I just focused on the pictures without tasting the articles, the first time, portraitures mainly caught my eye. The eye contact, the hairstyles, the clothes, even the gestures showed the harmony with the environmental background of the time. But after reading each picture’s introduction, I found even gestures are more vivid, needless to say landscape photography, architecture photography and other genres have come to my awareness. The historical background is quite charming. When you see a man with his hands crossed holding his head chatting with others, the situation that farmers in those those years with not much work to do, instead had plenty of time for conversation is reasonable but a little bit surprising. 

However, what inspired me most in the book is the staircase photo, which was created by Tina Modotti when she lived in Mexico in the years 1923 through 1926. Pictures of architecture definitely shows the combination of materials, the wood, the metal, the concrete all have diverse brightness, and even it is a picture of black and white, I could feel the different temperature when sun light heated them. What’s more, the powerful straight lines created a wonderful geometric pattern, the perspective of the stairs as well as the handrail created a spiral of beauty.

The light in this picture that I created is also attractive, it comes from the back and forms a different kind of depth. So, during my travel week in Miami, I paid a lot of attention when I visited different buildings, trying to find some contemporary characteristics of architecture and how the light and materials played in the view. When I stood in the hall of New World Center by Frank Gehry, I see the flow curvature, the prefabrication technique, the slowly rising stairs, the elegant boundary of windows and walls, as well as the light gently irradiated from a particular distance. 


About The Author: Wenjia Guo is a Graduate student in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Wenjia Guo, click here


Also posted in Architecture, Book Reviews, Contemporary Architecture, Current Events, Engineering, Environment, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students, Women

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison 2018 #3


Bob Shell: Letters From Prison



Letters From Prison: Part 3, 2018


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


Maybe my readers will be interested in what a typical day in prison is like. But of. course I’m not really in a prison. Virginia doesn’t have prisons anymore, they have “correctional centers.” The organization is no longer called department of prisons or something similar. It is now the lofty-sounding Department of Corrections and the state spends a billion dollars a year to run it. That’s right, billion with a “b”! The Department of Corrections is the single biggest item in the state budget. But the taxpayers don’t mind because we’re “tough on crime.”. So all that money has “corrected” me for ten years now. How do they correct us?
Here’s a typical day. They wake us up at 5:30 in the morning by yelling at us over the loud intercom and yell again in 15 minutes just in case we missed the first time. Then they make us stand up in our cells to be counted just in case someone disappeared during the night. Then we sit around doing nothing until about 6:30 when they open the cell doors and let us out into the pod. A pod is a big common room with cells in two tiers on three sides. So we go out into the pod and do nothing again until they call us to chow. Breakfast and other meals are served in the chow hall, a big room with metal tables, each with four stool seats permanently attached. The seats are round and hard, like sitting on an old auto hubcap. Breakfast today was waffles. Two frozen waffles with syrup, waffles we eat with a spork? Yep, a. spork is a plastic cross between a fork and a spoon that combines all the worst features of both. It’s like eating soup with a fork or meat with a spoon. Anyway with the waffles we had home fries (a scoop of semi-cooked potatoes) and cooked apples. Also a serving of oatmeal. Not surprising, since they spend less than two dollars a day to feed each of us. The idea that some people have that we get gourmet meals is wrong. Just after the Civil War the Federal Bureau of Prisons spent 75 cents a day to feed its prisoners, something like twenty dollars in today’s money! Some meals I simply can’t eat, so I eat food from the commissary. I’m very fortunate to have friends who send me money so I can buy commissary food, while many are not so fortunate and have to eat the state food.
Anyway, after breakfast we come back to the same boredom unless we have morning classes. I don’t have any right now, so I usually take a nap for a. couple of hours, then listen to music on my MP3 player and read. Right now I’m reading Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins, one of the major exponents of atheistic Darwinian evolution. I think he’s wrong, but this is not the place to argue that.
Back to the story: After breakfast we return to our pod or cells to either join one of the regular card games, work on a jigsaw puzzle, play chess, or sleep until they lock us down for another count until time for lunch.
After lunch I go to our law library for more research on law. I’ve been doing this for ten years now and have. learned a lot about the law, and am now a “jailhouse lawyer” member of the National Lawyers Guild. I’m also taking a Microsoft computer class later in the afternoon. After all this I have to go to pill call and stand in a long line to get my medicine. The pill line is outdoors and we stand there no matter what the weather. Then dinner, back to the pod for lockdown and another count, and more boredom until 9:30 bedtime. Then the same all over again the next morning. That’s been my life for the last ten years, and for something that never happened! More on this later…..


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th years of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here


Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Friends of TWS, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture