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People walking through the Quad on Oct. 31. Credit: Olivia West

Penn’s Family Weekend was held online this year, but many students’ families came to campus anyway.

Students said their families came to Penn's campus because they already made travel plans before family weekend was moved online in early October, and they were excited for the unique experience of spending time with loved ones in person. For families that did not travel to campus, Penn offered several virtual events from Oct. 29 through Oct. 31 to engage families while preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Students said that seeing their families in person meant a lot to them during their adjustment to college life, though it was difficult to find time to spend with family while completing classwork.

College first year Miranda Doro, who is from Jacksonville, Florida, said her family had been planning to visit for Family Weekend since the beginning of the semester. Since Doro’s birthday also fell on Saturday, Oct. 30, her family decided to make the trip anyway.

“If they didn’t come I wouldn’t see them until Thanksgiving, which is a really long time, and I needed to catch up,” Doro said.

Over the weekend, her family tried new restaurants, went shopping, and walked around Center City. Doro said she tried to get ahead on schoolwork before Family Weekend to maximize the time she could spend with her family.

College first year Michelle Wen said that her family came to see her play in the Penn Symphony Orchestra performance on Friday night, then spent the rest of the weekend with her. Wen, who is from Fort Lee, New Jersey, said that her parents live close enough that they can come to campus relatively easily. 

Wharton first year Ellen Hou also showed her parents around Philadelphia and Penn's campus, including the Quad, where she lives.

Hou's parents, who are from Peoria, Illinois, had already bought plane tickets before Family Weekend was moved online, so they decided to keep their original plans. 

“It was really hard to find time to spend with them on top of all my work, plus Halloween weekend,” Hou said. “It was stress-relieving to spend time with them, but there was just so much going on.”

College first year Mikel Saralegui, whose family visited campus from New York City, went to the Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Saturday.

Saralegui said that it was nice to break up his weekly routine with a visit from his parents.

“Seeing them in person was really important to me and just doing virtual events really isn’t the same,” he said. “It was definitely a stress reliever to see my family.” 

For students whose families participated in the virtual Weekend, events included both live and asynchronous Zoom webinars and BlueJeans conferences with speakers from across the University. Each of the four undergraduate schools also held their own programming.

Events included seminars on residential life, global opportunities, and finding a career. This is the second year the University has held Family Weekend programming online due to concerns of COVID-19 transmission.

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