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07-04-20-independence-hall-chase-sutton
One of the locations students in Hill College House visited was Independence Hall. Credit: Chase Sutton

From Old City to the Gayborhood, College Houses are giving students the opportunity to explore different parts of Philadelphia with their hallmates during their first in-person semester at Penn.

Each College House has its own calendar of events to give students the chance to leave campus while engaging with the faculty, staff, and students in their House. Events include canoeing down the Delaware River, walking to the farmers market at Clark Park, and partaking in mural tours of the city.

Hill College House has already hosted several events, including a trip to Old City on Sept. 19 during which students took SEPTA to visit the birthplace of American independence. 

Students went to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Betsy Ross House, attendee and College first year Lila DiMasi said.

The students also visited Elfreth's Alley, one of the oldest streets in America, which DiMasi said was a highlight of the trip. She heard about the event from her graduate associate, who is on the social committee and helped to organize the event.

DiMasi said she is excited to attend future events since one of the reasons she wanted to come to Penn was to explore another part of the city after growing up in South Philadelphia.

Upcoming Hill events include a visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary for "A Halloween Festival of Epic Proportions!" on Oct. 30. Transportation and discounted general admission tickets will be available for Hill residents. 

Rodin College House also has a specialized committee called “Rodin and Beyond,” which organizes off-campus programs for students. The first event was a visit to Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, where students could roller skate, play boardwalk games, and enjoy food and drinks on the Delaware River.

Another community within Rodin called The Rodin Arts Collective is dedicated to exploring arts and culture, and organized a trip to an outdoor concert at an arboretum, as well as a guided tour of the Institute of Contemporary Art. 

Upcoming events for Rodin include a tour of the Japanese Cultural Center at Fairmount Park, a mural arts walking tour with Rodin faculty, and a trip to the Camden Aquarium over Thanksgiving break, House Director Kathryn McDonald wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. McDonald also hosts a monthly walk every second Saturday of the fall semester to the weekly farmers market at Clark Park.

“The benefits [of the events] include connections with other members of the Rodin community, as well as interacting with faculty and staff beyond the classroom,” she wrote.

Upcoming events at Kings Court English College House include the Biosphere's Annual Canoe Trip on Oct. 9. For a $15 co-pay, students will be driven to Delaware for a six-mile canoe down the Brandywine River.

Lauder College House residents traveled to the Museum of the American Revolution on Sept. 29 as part of a monthly program initiative called “Philly Field Trips,” started by Lauder House Director Mitchell Holston. The field trip for October will either be a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art or a mural walk throughout the city, Holston said.

“One of our learning goals is exploration, and it really focuses on getting students out of the Penn bubble and really getting them out into Philadelphia and having them be a part of the community that's out there,” Holston said. 

Lauder is also hosting a “StRoll with Me” series, during which students walk through parts of campus and the city to learn more about Penn and Philadelphia. The next “StRoll with Me” event will take place on Friday, Oct. 8 with a trip to Philadelphia's Gayborhood to learn about Philadelphia's nationwide impact on gay activism.

The Lauder events have been particularly helpful for its primarily sophomore residents to meet other students, since their first year at Penn was primarily virtual, Holston said.

“We're here to serve you all and be able to give you all engaging experiences, make you all enjoy our experience here at Penn and your experiences in the house, but then also learn and grow together,” Holston said.

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