The Past and The Future Meet The Present

I was thinking about what would be an appropriate title for today’s blog for a while, and the theme that constantly came up in my mind is time-transcending quality of this special weekend that we are having right now!

This Friday, we were happy to have some of our dearest alums back in Philly! The Alumni Day kicked off with an Alumni Panel where the alums shared their insights into the post-IEDP life. Unfortunately, I personally was at work during then (I know, commitment at times means missing out big deals like this!) but according to my cohort mates who were there, the panel discussion helped to demystify the post-IEDP job searching process which many of us are already kind of dreading about! We all love what we do and can’t wait to do what we want to do but you know, just with any other job searching and recruiting, it is a nerve-wrecking process! Time and time again, the IEDPers learn the importance of really taking full advantage of the resources available at Penn.

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Shout out to Lisha, Katelyn and Megan for sharing their stories with us!

The Alumni Panel was followed by happy hour at City Tap! I raced my way to City Tap after closing the Family Center, hoping I will be able to catch some people and fortunately, I was able to meet my cohort mates and some alums still hanging out at the bar. I met three alums who finished the program in 2015 and was able to hear about their work experiences and tips on how to make the most out of CIES (by the way, definitely more coming up about CIES in about three weeks!) and summer internships. One thing that really struck me from the conversations I had with a few alums was that the practical skills we learn at IEDP are applicable not only in international educational development but also in broader non-profit, social work field as well. After all, conducting needs assessment and writing grant and technical proposals are concrete skills required in various types of work even outside IED. Details of the work might vary here and there but the gist of the work remains the same, which makes all the things I’ve learned so far at IEDP all the more valuable!

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“The Present” of the program featured in the photo with “The Past” lurking in the back 😉

The next morning, some of the IEDPers gathered on the 4th floor of GSE to meet admitted students! This year’s turn-out was bigger than ever, which we were extremely thrilled about but at the same time, some logistical glitches were inevitable, to be very frank. Despite some difficulties, admitted students were very engaged through out the presentation by Lauren and Dr. Thapa and asked some really great questions about the IEDP experience. Walking out of the classroom to grab a coffee before going to the reception, some of the cohort mates who were there and I talked about how the Q&A session after Lauren and Dr. Thapa’s presentation helped us to reflect on our own experiences and remind us how happy we are to be in this program! Like any other things in life, at times, immediate tasks and everyday-life hustles blind us from seeing things from a greater perspective. The last few weeks have been a tough time for many of our cohort mates as we struggle to prepare for CIES, policy brief and logistics for the summer/fall internships. Swamped with endless things on to-do lists, the IEDPers didn’t really have time to think about where all these tasks are eventually leading us to. Talking with prospective students really helped us to sort those thoughts out, and honestly, as much as we were there to help admitted students make their decisions, I think the experience was extremely helpful to the current students as well! Truly a win-win situation 🙂

Cream of the crop for sure — the reception with great food and great company took place in Stitler Hall afterwards. IEDPers and the prospective students gathered on the second floor where Dr. González-Canché hosted us for ping pong games and great music. The current and prospective students were able to continue on their conversations in a more casual setting. We really really hope to see many of the faces again next year!

Guess who are the current students in the picture……… 😀

I think this weekend helped me see beyond the IEDP that I’m experiencing at the moment — I was able to connect with “the past” of the program by meeting those who have already gone through the experience I’m having and with “the future” by meeting with the prospective students. This reminded me that IEDP experience is more than what happens in the one year or the one and a half year you are in Philly. It starts much earlier for a lot of us and it will never end really!

So glad to have met so many bright individuals but I have to say, it can be quite exhausting after meeting so many new people all in such short period of time. For all the fabulous alums, current and prospective students — make sure to take good care of yourself by having some quality me-time. I believe that will help us process all the encounters and conversations through which we will further enrich our experience this weekend!

Pro tip: Lemon Lavender candle is super helpful with relaxation.


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