Category Archives: Student Life

Lilibeth Montero: National Dominican Student Conference

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Photography and Text by Lilibeth Montero, Copyright 2018

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National Dominican Student Conference

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On March 23th- 25th 2018 I attended the National Dominican Student Conference in New York City. The conference featured speeches from famous Dominican’s like Orange is the New Black star Dascha Polanco and rapper Amara La Negra. The conference was designed to be an open and safe space for students of Dominican descent to discuss openly about the issues facing the Dominican community.

One of the main issues facing the Dominican community concerns their identity. After, 174 years the Dominican Republic continues to face the consequences of European colonialism. Once long ago, the Dominican Republic and Haiti were a single Island. But with colonialism, the Island was split into two creating a deeply divided society. Now 174 years later the Dominican Republic and Haiti remain divided. Today, the Dominican youth has accepted and embraced their African routes, however the older Dominican generations continue to deny their African ancestry. Older generations of Dominican people are incredibly racist to Haitians, and value lighter European features.  The students at the conference go by the name “Afro-Latinas” or “Afro-Latinos” embracing both their African and their latin American side. The Dominican community is struggling at finding an identity. Questioning if they are “black” enough, or “latin” enough.

Another aspect of the conference focused on mental health, a taboo subject in the Dominican community. For so long, Dominicans were forced to live in silence. The older generations of Dominicans for so long attempted to hide the sun with their thumb. The conversation was a passionate and heartwarming one.

The conference ended on March 25th with a Traditional Dominican breakfast. At the end of the conference, it was clear students felt empowered and left with hope. Hope to better their community, and confidence that other Dominican students are working hard to make a difference.

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About The Author: Lilibeth Montero is a freshman enrolled in the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2021. To access additional articles by Lilibeth Montero, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/lilibeth-montero-whats-in-my-bag/

 

Also posted in Announcements, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel, Women

Anisha Arora: South Africa. The Land of Contradictions

 Native South African dancers outside Nelson Mandela’s house in Johannesburg

Native South African dancers outside Nelson Mandela’s house in Johannesburg

 

Photography and Text by Anisha Arora, Copyright 2018

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South Africa. The Land of Contradictions

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South Africa is a land of contradictions. What you see on the surface are beautiful beaches, sprawling vineyards, clear sky and dramatic mountains everywhere. You are enchanted and enthralled by the beauty, and rightly so. But slowly, you realize that this beauty hides a brutal truth. The truth of the white man, once again, justifying formalized racism.

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The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town at sunset

The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town at sunset

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I got the wonderful opportunity to visit South Africa over the Spring Break, as part of Wharton’s Global Immersion Program. I absolutely fell in love with the country and highly recommend visiting both Cape Town and Johannesburg.

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 Penguins at the Boulder Beach

Penguins at the Boulder Beach

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Cape Town is astoundingly beautiful and is often called the Silicon Valley of South Africa, with a budding entrepreneurial ecosystem. The views of the Table Mountain never gets old, the beaches are beautiful and pristine, and the views at the Cape of Good Hope are unparalleled. My favorite memory, though, is of seeing the penguins at Boulder Beach for the very first time. I also recommend visiting Stellenbosch to see the beautiful vineyards and taste the much-touted South African vines.

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A giraffe at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, near Johannesburg

A giraffe at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, near Johannesburg

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It’s easy to lose yourself in the natural beauty of South Africa. However, a trip to South Africa is incomplete without an attempt to understand its complex history. The apartheid museum and the Soweto townships in Johannesburg, as well as, a trip to Robben Island are a must. Robben Island houses the prison where Nelson Mandela was kept locked up for almost 2 decades.

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Words inscribed on the wall of Nelson Mandela’s house in Johannesburg

Words inscribed on the wall of Nelson Mandela’s house in Johannesburg

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Our guide at Robben Island, an island used for isolation of political prisoners. Our guide was a fellow prisoner with Nelson Mandela (who spent 18 years imprisoned on this island)

Our guide at Robben Island, an island used for isolation of political prisoners. Our guide was a fellow prisoner with Nelson Mandela (who spent 18 years imprisoned on this island)

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 A sign at the Apartheid museum, from the time when apartheid was practiced in South Africa

A sign at the Apartheid museum, from the time when apartheid was practiced in South Africa

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Personally, it was difficult for me to fathom that apartheid ended within my lifetime. It was even more difficult to fathom that human beings can inflict such torture on fellow human beings, with a perfect ability to rationalize these actions. Some of the exhibits at the apartheid museum also reminded me of the divisive language we see today around anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-refugee emotions. We, homo sapiens, never learn from our past.

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Colorful houses in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood

Colorful houses in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood

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A colorful market in Johannesburg

A colorful market in Johannesburg

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Through my photographs, I have tried to capture the various aspects of South Africa, from the wildlife, the mountains, the beaches to the locals and places of historical significance.

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A local South African playing music on the road

A local South African playing music on the road

 

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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 herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/anisha-arora-a-whiff-of-history/

 

Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, History, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, UPenn, UPenn: Photography Students, Women

Grant Wei: Blinking Through Memories

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Photography and Text by Grant Wei, Copyright 2018

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BLINKING THROUGH MEMORIES

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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?

Blink.

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.

Blink.

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..

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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 herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/grant-wei-consumption/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Environment, Health Care, Photography, Popular Culture, Science, UPenn, UPenn Photography

Rongrong Liu: A Colorful Favela

Photography and Text by Rongrong Liu, Copyright 2018

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A COLORFUL FAVELA

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Favela, in Portuguese, means a slum. Thousands of books and reports talk about these Brazilian shanty towns. There are 786 favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Each one has around 160,000 people. They live and die in these shady places because they cannot afford to live in the cities. If you type the word into Google, nothing positive shows up.They are said to be extremely dangerous and full of violence and drugs. However, after staying in Copacabana and Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro, I found most of the urban areas essentially not too different, so my curiosity drove me to take a tour to the inner side of Brazil.

The tour guide was born and bred in Favela. He is a self-taught English and German speaker. He receives thousands of perfect reviews on Trip Advisor and must be able to afford a good life in urban Rio, but he still chooses to live in Favela. With a curiosity about this person and the place for certain, we arrived after a half-an-hour drive. Within expectation, the town is not as prosperous as some coastal areas, but it has most of what cities have- restaurants, clinics, supermarkets, bars, and surprisingly, banks. Considered as neglected places by the government, favelas are not provided with any subsidies, hence they developed their own self-sufficient economy. It is true that “some people just give up at some point of their life”, as said by the tour guide, but at the same time “there are still people who strive to change their fate. I learned English and German. I have been a tour guide for 26 years.” It is hard to imagine that a person can still be passionate after sharing the same thing and showing people around the same place for 26 years. However, I guess he just wants to use his ability to tell the world the positive side of Favela.

I didn’t know how much words can tell about a real favela, but I believe the camera can. I recorded what I saw along the road. There are all those yellow stick figure graffiti everywhere on the walls, on the wire poles, full of happiness and hope. On my way visiting, which was around 3pm in the afternoon, three teenage girls with backpacks passed by. After communicating with our tour guide, the girls gave the most beautiful smile on their faces to welcome us as foreigners. They pinched my face, and gave me a big hug. I guess that was the warmest and the most pure hug that I haven’t received for a long while.

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About The Author: Rongrong Liu is a Junior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Rongrong Liu, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/rongrong-liu-a-macro-view-of-utensils/

 

Also posted in Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, Music, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel, UPenn, UPenn Photography

Esther Fleischer: It’s a Dog’s World in West Philadelphia

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Photography and Text by Esther Fleischer, Copyright 2018

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IT’S A DOG’S WORLD IN WEST PHILADELPHIA

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Back in elementary school, my friends and I would always ask about how others see color. What if when I hold up my favorite blue Crayola marker, someone else sees the green one instead? What if girls see pink as blue-is that why girls like pink and guys like blue? How can we tell? Are there special glasses that we could use, or a way to transport ourselves into another’s mind to see through their eyes?

I never did completely get answers to those questions, but whatever the answer to the above may be, dogs do see color differently than we do. Rather like a form of color blindness called Protanopia, dogs only have two types of cones rather than the three that the average person has. Without the third type of cone, dogs see on a spectrum that ranges from yellow to blue to dark grey rather than the standard rainbow.

Wandering through West Philadelphia, searching for anything that would catch a dog’s eye. A squirrel, streaking across the park, running away from you as you get closer to it. It climbs the tree and stops, staring at you.

A bright fire hydrant, yellow in the dog’s view. A flag waving in the bright, clear sky. A car, a trash can, caution tape surrounded by leaves on the brick sidewalk.

Most importantly are all of the friends you meet along the way. Another dog in the park. A kind person willing to throw a stick.

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About The Author: Esther Fleischer is a Freshman enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2021. To access additional articles by Esther Fleischer, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/esther-fleischer-a-horse-show-through-still-life-photos/

 

Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Photography, Popular Culture, UPenn Photography, Women