Fall semester wrap-up

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… The end of the semester! Let’s not comment on how quickly the semester has gone (but really); rather, let’s celebrate it with a look at how we brought the fall semester to a close.

Technical Proposals


For Proseminar, our major project of the semester was a technical proposal. As I have mentioned before, this was a group project that centered on using technology to improve literacy skills for early grade readers. In addition to writing the technical proposal, each group had to present their project to the rest of the class, IEDP professors (Drs. Wagner, GK, and Thapa, plus an incoming professor), and a few other associated and curious folks (including Lauren, Dr. Posecznick, and our new assistant Sharon). We only had about 12 minutes to go over the key aspects of the project, and then we fielded questions for an additional three. However, my team (🇻🇺Vanuatu🇻🇺) was the last to present, and everyone had been so time-efficient that we definitely were up there answering questions for much, much longer. Luckily, everyone was fascinated by our inclusion of Google Loon in our project that most of the questions were about that. (But I guess that meant that Loon was the most interesting part about our project? 🤔)

But anyway, everyone did such a wonderful job on their presentations, and the projects themselves were pretty awesome too. Kudos to everyone for their hard work!

White Elephant at Smokey Joe’s


To celebrate the end of the semester (and the end of our technical proposals!), IEDP and the ECS (Education, Culture, and Society) program hosted a holiday party at Smokey Joe’s, where the free beer and pizza were flowing. We also added a white elephant gift exchange too. I ended up stealing Kristina’s gift of hot sauces; other gifts included Ta-Nahisi Coates’ new book, Mexican treats, and a Penn mug. Towards the end of the night we ended up playing the card game Spades, which was not only hilarious but also pretty fun.

Final papers

For 514, no matter whether you have Dr. GK or Dr. Wagner, you’ve got to write a paper. While Dr. GK’s group had their papers due last week, Dr. Wagner gave his class until the final day of the semester, December 19th, to submit ours. Guess who’s in the latter group? The paper is fairly ambiguous in purpose, in that you can “examine a key issue from the course.” You can do that either with a topical review that analyzes a particular topic in depth; a multi-book book review that attempts to synthesize across two or three authors’ points of view; or a research proposal. Easy peezy. I’m going with the first option, opting to explore the place and applicability of multiliteracies in development programs. I’m really digging the topic, and writing it has been fairly straightforward. Like Proseminar, we had to present our paper topics to the class, though this time for only 3 minutes and then 2 minutes of questioning. It was fascinating to listen to other people’s topic choices, which varied from sex education in Latin America to higher education policy in China to the investment in early child care education. It’s also insight to what people decided to choose based on their experience or their areas of interest.

As soon as I turn this paper in, I’ll be officially done with the semester! Wow…

Exploring Philly

I met up with Emma and Madiha to explore the Christmas market at City Hall. They had a Santa, Philly Jesus, and even a guy dressed up as the Grinch; mulled wine and saccharine treats; a garden maze and an ice rink; and little local shops galore.


Wanting to escape the cold, we ventured into a Macy’s nearby to check out their Christmas decorations and search for a winter coat for Madiha. We even got to enjoy the light show:


Now that the semester is over (more or less), I suppose it would be an appropriate time to give a quick summary of my thoughts about it, right? Well, I certain have valued the way the program (which includes the cohort, the classes, and Penn in general) has challenged me. There are many different perspectives that I have gained and discovered over the course of this semester, and for that I’m grateful. This hasn’t been the smoothest semester for our cohort, but I’m very optimistic that we are moving in the right direction.

And now we have a bunch of things to look forward to for the spring: new classes, policy briefs, getting internships, CIES, and being a few months closer to getting that masters degree. Exciting stuff, my friends!

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