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Admitted students have dinner at the Penn Museum as part of Penn's Multicultural Scholars weekend, which aimed at welcoming multicultural students to Penn.

This past weekend, roughly 200 prospective students attended Multicultural Scholars' Weekend, a preview weekend geared toward minority students accepted to Penn's Class of 2013.

The weekend - which lasted Sunday through Tuesday - is an integral part of Penn's efforts to build a community of traditionally underrepresented students, according to director of multicultural recruitment David Toomer.

"It's highly competitive among top-tier schools to enroll talented students from underrepresented groups," he said, adding that Penn has one of the highest percentages of minority students among such schools.

"We're proud of that," he said. "We want to maintain that."

College freshman and United Minorities Council admissions outreach chairwoman Jewel Lester said the program aims to demonstrate diversity at Penn to participants.

Twelve campus performing arts groups and four Scholars' Weekend participants performed at a "talent show" Sunday night, and on Monday, participants attended a dinner featuring Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter as its keynote speaker.

Lester said the events attempt to show students that a sense of community exists for minorities at Penn. "They won't be alone" if they choose to come to Penn, she added.

Toomer agreed. "There's an automatic sense of community once everyone arrives here," he said.

Each year, accepted minority students - described by Lester as anyone who is not Caucasian - receive invitations to attend the weekend with their acceptance letters, but Lester said the program is open to anyone who wants to attend.

"Even if you don't get an invitation, you can call admissions and you can come," she said. "There's no set criteria."

Toomer added that the Annenberg Foundation provides "limited funds" to transport disadvantaged students to campus for Scholars' Weekend. In addition, Penn sends buses to New York City and Washington, D.C. to bring students to the program, he said.

Each Scholars' Weekend participant is assigned a current Penn student as his or her host, with whom they stay for two nights.

Students are encouraged to ask questions of their host. Lester said the interaction allows visiting students to ask questions they might not be otherwise able to in a larger tour group.

Wharton freshman Barbara Gao, one of this year's host students, said she answered questions her visitor had about daily life at Penn.

"She wanted to know what Spring Fling was like," Gao said.

"I'm sure we'll be keeping up our friendship when she comes in the fall," she added.

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