Ask The Staff: Gratitude


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving! There’s no better time to express gratitude (even if it does seem a little cliché!) The Weingarten Staff takes a moment to reflect.

What are you thankful for?

Bonus question: what is your favorite Thanksgiving food?

This year I am thankful to be back in the Philadelphia area and for my new job at Penn. I’m thankful for the joy brought by my rescue dog Snuffy. I’m thankful for my family, particularly for letting Snuffy and I stay with them during this transition. (Snuffy is maybe not the easiest houseguest.) I’m thankful for the love and support of my friends during this job search and transition. As for my favorite Thanksgiving food, that’s definitely stuffing. Although if we’re talking Thanksgiving themed food, then I highly recommend “The Dinner Sandwich” at The Original Turkey in Reading Terminal Market. – Kate 

I am grateful for my family and support network.  This year, with working full time, becoming a mom, and starting my Doctoral studies, I have been juggling a lot. I know that without the amazing support that my family provides, it would be truly impossible for me to take on all of these things.  My favorite thanksgiving food is actually what I make the weekend after – leftover Turkey soup! – Valerie 

Taking the time to express appreciation and gratitude is essential. Gratitude defies the description of a cliché.  I want to express my deep appreciation for the Weingarten Center staff who have demonstrated their true grit and compassionate hearts by working together for the benefit of others, especially for students. Also, I am grateful for my siblings. Whenever I hear a person comment that they are disconnected from a brother or sister, it deeply impacts me. I am fortunate to have sisters and brothers who bring great joy in my life even though they can sometimes be annoying. 😀 Bonus question: Food! My sister is a devotee of Claire Saffitz and her YouTube channel. The sweet potato Soufflé rates supreme and I highly recommend it! – Jane 

I’m very thankful that I can spend the holidays with my family this year! – Julianne 

It may not be the first thing on everyone’s mind, but I’m thankful to be doing work that so often feels extremely purposeful and missional! The last few years have been a huge lesson in humility, relationship-building, and being human and I know I’m blessed that this is my first professional experience ever!

I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a work-aholic 👀… lol. My favorite Thanksgiving food is… everything my mom makes… I don’t want to play favorites with any of them :)- Gabe

I am thankful for my family ,our health and being able to spend time with each other. Bonus Question- My favorite food is candied yams with tons of marshmallows on top. – Lauren

I am thankful for my family, my friends, my dog, and my home in Philly. I love my neighborhood and cherish being within a few blocks of so many of my friends.  And, my favorite Thanksgiving food is mashed potatoes.  I could eat mashed potatoes every single day.  – Jackie

I am thankful that my family and friends have been able to be healthy and happy during this very difficult year.  I am grateful for their presence and the joy that they give me.  My favorite Thanksgiving food is GRAVY – my mom taught me how to make the best gravy- I, of course, need to have mashed potatoes to go with it! – Pam 

I am Thankful that God has Blessed me to see another Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for my health and strength,  having a roof over my head and the activities of my limbs.  Thankful that my surgery was a huge success and I am able to walk better. Covid hit my family hard, hospitalizing some and making others very sick, and I am thankful that all have recovered.  As you can see l am thankful. –Patricia

Ask The Staff: Recentering


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

We’re back! The Weingarten Center staff has returned to the office. While there are comforts of home that are missed, it’s also refreshing to see each other’s faces (the unmasked half, that is!) and to connect with students on campus again. Returning to the office is certainly an adjustment, so we asked about everyone’s favorite ways to decompress and recenters themselves.

Now that we have returned to campus, how do you recenter and decompress during the workday?

A way for me to recenter myself is to listen to music. It helps me to relax so that I focus on the task at hand.  – Lauren

When I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed at work, I recenter myself by getting out of the office and going for a walk. I highly recommend the Bio Pond (officially known as the James G. Kaskey Memorial Park), The Woodlands cemetery and arboretum, Clark Park, and, for a longer outing with transportation, Bartram’s Garden. – Ryan 

Recentering is a daily experience, for I never know what awaits each day. Will the Septa bus be crowded with passengers? Did I make the right decision to travel to Locust Walk during a non-peak time to avoid the crush of students? How can I display my delight at seeing a colleague while my smile is hidden behind a mask? Reaping the moments and appreciating the small acts of kindness serve as my way of recentering daily. – Jane 

Going to the bio pond and seeing all the plants, turtles, and frogs 🙂 – Amrou

I try to do mindful meditation for at 10 minutes (max of 20) during my lunch hour. It helps to ease anxiety and feel a little more refreshed for the remainder of the day. – Alia

My absolute favorite way to recenter now is to listen to lofi music (Live Youtube Stream)! When I wake up really early, however, my meditation practice is to pray and read the Bible; I want to be more consistent with this, but it’s extremely centering when I do it! – Gabe

Doing crossword puzzles! Also, I love visiting the turtles and toads at the bio pond. It’s a little oasis in the middle of campus. – Jackie

Biking to and from campus has allowed me to get some exercise and fresh air while on my commute. – Jen

One of the things I missed during the remote period was the chance to connect with colleagues informally. Sharing a good talk or a laugh with a colleague while going for a walk around campus or getting lunch helps me recenter. – Julianne

Ask The Staff: Favorite TV Shows


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

For this installment of Ask The Staff, we’re talking television! From favorite shows watched during quarantine, to favorite shows of all time—check out what the WLRC Staff has been streaming.

What are you watching?

Over quarantine, I got into New Girl and now my roommates and I watch it all the time. When we’re not watching that, we’re watching another household favorite, Sex and the City. My all-time favorite show is Curb Your Enthusiasm—I never get sick of it! A more recent show I am obsessed with is Search Party which is a funny/dark mystery/thriller type of show starring Alia Shawkat from Arrested Development (another favorite of mine!)  – Jackie

TV Shows: The Good Doctor, Pooch Perfect, Home Economics, Station 19, Grey’s Anatomy. Series: The World According to Jeff Goldblum (Disney+), National Geographic Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller (Hulu), Tehran (Apple TV), 90 Day Fiancé (Hulu). – Sabria

During the pandemic, I had some time to watch quite a few shows while being home. My favorite has been the following on Netflix: Bridgerton, Ginny & Georgia, and Lupin. Then on Amazon Prime these shows: The Wilds, Upload, Homecoming, and Modern Love.   – Lauren 

Pandemic watched: Reign, Poldark, and The Crown.  My favorites are Bridgerton and Victoria. – Pat

As an aficionado of British mysteries and dramas (and sometimes comedies), Line of Duty rises to the top of intrigue and suspense with complex characters who create more challenges for themselves by poor decision-making. If you enjoy police dramas and can handle Britishisms, then I highly recommend this series. I made it through 4 seasons with 2 more awaiting me. “Keep calm and carry on” does not fit this heart-racing series.” – Jane 

Gilmore Girls has given me comfort during all of the uncertainty of these times. I especially like the relationship between Lorelei and Rory and all of the quirky small town characters. Fingers crossed for another revival! Also, Rory is a Yale student for a few seasons and she has to manage her busy role with the college newspaper and a challenging course load, reminds me of many Weingarten students! – Jen 

I’m watching the new Marvel shows on Disney+.  I’m loving the inside look and back stories of characters that the movies normally treat as minor.  Both shows that have premiered so far (WandaVision & Captain Falcon and the Winter Soldier) also both had a very different feel than the movies, like the writers are toying with aspects of other genres.  They have both been fun, enjoyable shows so far, and I’m really looking forward to the Loki one! – Valerie 

I have a thing for 90s/early 2000s TV shows so naturally I’ve seen Friends about a million times. Sex and the City is also a favorite of all time and more time spent at home gave me a chance to re-watch some old favorites: The Nanny, Girlfriends, The Game, Will & Grace… I also binged the Handmaid’s Tale last year and I’m excited for the new season to start on the 27th. I highly recommend this show. – Alia 

I love this topic. The quarantine changed everything for me. Typically, I hardly ever watch television. Quarantine changed my television habits (go figure). Currently, my favs are Married at First Sight on Lifetime (I know, I know lol), Rock The Block, and House Hunters (both shows are on HGTV). I also enjoy rewatching old episodes of Martin, Living Single, and Girlfriends. – Sheryl 

My partner and I are currently watching The Handmaid’s Tale. I read the book in college and recently read The Testaments, which is Margaret Atwood’s follow-up and response to the series, but I continue to be amazed by how much further the show has taken the original story. Elizabeth Moss is truly a superhero! Before this, we watched I May Destroy You on HBO, which I also highly recommend. – Ryan

I’m watching Never Have I Ever on Netflix. This is the little blurb associated with the show: “After a traumatic year, an Indian-American teen just wants to spruce up her social status — but friends, family and feelings won’t make it easy on her.” Mindy Kaling is one of the creators! – Traci

Ask The Staff : Book Club


Wednesday, March 31, 2021
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To celebrate our colleague Gabe Angrand’s recently published book of poetry, “Love, God”, we’re discussing our favorites reads—from favorite book in quarantine, to favorite book of all time, to what we’re currently reading.

If you’re interested in checking out any of these recommended reads, consider supporting some of Philadelphia’s black-owned bookstores including Amalgam, Harriet’s Bookshop, Hakim’s, Uncle Bobbie’s, Black and Nobel, Black Reserve, and Books & Stuff. (Thank you Daris for recommending these here!)

What are you reading?

I really miss swimming and there’s no good digital or virtual substitute. So, next on my reading list the next best thing—a book about swimming. Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui explores the allure that swimming and water itself holds over devoted swimmers. According to the book jacket, this book “is propelled by stories of Olympic champions, a Baghdad swim club that meets in Saddam Hussein’s palace pool, modern-day Japanese samurai swimmers, and even an Icelandic fisherman who improbably survives a wintery six-hour swim after a shipwreck.” I can’t wait to dive in!  – Julianne 

I’m currently re-reading, for the third time, a seven-book series by Sarah J. Maas called Throne of Glass. If you like fantasy that dances between young adult and adult, these books are so good! Also, anything by Tim O’Brien, Neil Gaiman, or Erik Larson are awesome. Oh, oh! One more—Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I read this duology recently and adored it!” – Traci 

By March 17, I will have finished a book called, Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude Steele. In this piece, Steele, an American social psychologist, tells a story of personal experiences and research experiments that lead to a fascinating explanation for why URM (underrepresented minority) people in most contexts you can think of tend to perform worse than their non-URM counterparts: stereotype threat. The piece ends with some practical advice as well, which include clear communication of high expectations/standards, effective mentorship, and the hard work of developing trust between URM and non-URM groups. I felt like Claude was talking to me most of the time, but I recommend this book to anyone interested in this phenomenon related to URM performance and persistence! – Gabe

What I’m currently reading: A Promised Land, An American Marriage, and Text Me When You Get Home (I can never stick with one!) My favorite book of all time: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. – Kelcey 

Lately, I’ve been reading the Holy Qu’ran. I wouldn’t call myself a religious person, but I would definitely say I’m more spiritually inclined. My mom gave me a copy of the Qu’ran back when I was 14 and I never used it much, but I stopped and looked at the message she had written in it and it said, “I hope that this will be a source of guidance and comfort for you,” and it feels extremely appropriate, given the times we are in. – Alia 

Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis with Michael D’Orso, His Truth is Marching On by John Lewis, and The Power of Hope by John Meacham.  For fun reading, I am reading the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn” – Pat

I’m reading Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. The protagonist is a 20-year-old freshman at Yale named Galaxy “Alex” Stern. Alex is able to see ghosts (called “grays” in the book) and was recruited to the university as a member of Lethe House (the 9th house) that monitors the occult and supernatural activities of the eight Houses of the Veil (including the famous Skull and Bones) that use their powers in dark and terrible ways. As you’ve guessed, it’s fiction (I think!). – Ryan 

Currently, I’m reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X. My favorite book of quarantine is The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk, and my favorite book of all time is Cosmos by Carl Sagan.Amrou

Ask The Staff: Favorite Apps & Tech


Monday, February 22, 2021

During the lockdown, we’ve had to adapt to new virtual lifestyle. There are apps and technology that have become more important than ever for work, fitness, and fun! We asked our staff for their favorites.

What app or technology has helped you most during the pandemic?

“Having Microsoft Teams has helped a lot during the pandemic. I’m finding it’s been by far the easiest and quickest way to get help from VPUL Technology Services and a quick way to connect with members of our staff and outside, as opposed to waiting on an email. I’ve taken a social media break and it feels good! I’m trying to get into meditation and finding ways to help with my insomnia, so I recently downloaded the Calm app. I haven’t used it yet but I’m hoping for great things to come.” – Alia 

“Although I used Zoom on a few occasions prior to March 2020, I failed to realize its value. I quickly discovered that Zoom and BlueJeans have allowed me to stay connected with colleagues, friends, and family. Screen fatigue might be a side effect, but I remain grateful to accomplish my work and remain connected with my ‘peeps.’ I might live alone, yet I never feel lonely since I have technological tools to be present in the workplace and with my friends and siblings.” – Jane

“The Nike Training Club app has been my go-to for at-home workouts. They made all of their premium content free back in March, and I mostly use it for yoga and the occasional HIIT (high-intensity interval training) session. The only downside is that some of the workouts recommend dumbbells, which can still be hard to find in our pandemic economy.” – Ryan 

Clubhouse is a new app that is still in beta stage and only for Apple users, but it has been so helpful to me in the past few weeks! As a poet, I’ve been able to connect with others of the same craft, share my work, and be exposed to different styles of writing and performing. In addition to many of the other conversations happening on the app, Clubhouse really has been a space for me to reconnect meaningfully with others!” – Gabe 

“Without the ability to stroll around Penn’s Campus, hit the gym, or take a fitness class with friends, I’m finding my workout app, Beach Body On Demand, has gotten a lot more action during the pandemic. There are some days I don’t even leave the house, but having the option to scroll through hundreds of workouts has helped me get some movement in when I’m feeling a little stir-crazy!” – Traci 

“Microsoft Teams has helped me the most during the pandemic. It gives me the opportunity to be in closer contact with my colleagues remotely. I am able to greet everyone in the morning all at once, and reach out directly to an individual via the chat feature to ask a question and receive a quicker response than I would through an email.” – Sabria 

“I’ve been really into Just Dance on the Nintendo Switch. It motivates me to get up and exercise. It’s basically a Zumba class in the comfort of your home. There’s a huge catalog of songs in a variety of genres and difficulties. My housemates and I have favorite songs that we’re getting really good at. Maybe one day we’ll be able to bust out our choreographed moves at the club.” – Jackie

“For work – my Outlook calendar! For myself – workout apps/websites: The Movement Project website (local & woman owned & operated) for Cardio & Strength, SWEAT/Kayla Itsines App for Strength, and Melissa Wood Health App for Pilates & Meditation.” – Kelcey

“BlueJeans is what I used at first, now I use Zoom. I don’t have a favorite meditation app. I just pray or watch a good relaxing movie: Sleepless in Seattle, an Affair to Remember, or read a book. I usually work out during commercials since they are now so long.” – Patricia