By Maryann Dreas-Shaikha

Maryann is a first-year student in the IEDP. She has returned to the U.S. after teaching English, literature and Model United Nations, and training teachers in pedagogy and formative assessment, in Pakistan and the Republic of Georgia. She misses her students and teachers, but hopes this academic hiatus will equip her with the skills to achieve meaningful change for more people than she is able to reach in a few schools right now.

At Penn, she is studying the areas she is passionate about: literacy, curriculum development, teacher education, and international education policy. Maryann is enrolled in 4.5 CUs.

Take a peek into Maryann’s Wednesdays below.

7:00 a.m.
I wake up to my third alarm, and my one and only cat.
Only a few months ago at my previous school, I had to arrive every day by 7:30 a.m. to monitor students as they lined up. However, I am still decidedly not a morning person.

8:00 a.m.
Protein wakes me up. I follow my breakfast routine pretty religiously, even on weekends— two eggs, a bowl of vanilla yogurt with strawberries and walnuts and pecans, and a steaming cup of doodh patti (Pakistani milk tea). No pancakes here!

During breakfast, I read for my classes.

8:30 a.m.
I make the 10-block trek to the GSE building. It’s a beautiful walk through University City, and I use the time to video call my loved ones.

9:00 11:00 a.m., Proseminar class with Dr. GK. Wednesdays are usually devoted to learning about our colleagues through their cultural shares, brainstorming with our technical proposal groups, and learning about the field of development work. Sometimes, Dr. Amy Benedict or Dr. Gershberg share their expertise on the career search or theories of change during this hour.

Today’s class was “catharsis”, as my fellow IEDPer Aishwarya Kaple put it. In small-group reflections, we revealed our anxieties, anticipations, and vexing questions about our future careers and happiness. Dr. GK reminds us to ask, “What excited me about this field, initially?” and advises, “Don’t lose that. Stay true to yourself, no matter what.”

Whenever we lose sight of the shore, Dr. GK takes the helm.

Special self-gifting Wednesday

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Normally at this time, I hang out with fellow IEDPers on the 4th floor of the GSE building, completing assignments and munching on a packed lunch: No food trucks or eating out on my strict budget!

When I do spend though, it’s on houseplants from the Wednesday farmers’ market outside the Penn bookstore.

Regular working Wednesday
Photo courtesy IEDP Instagram.

3:00 p.m.
Today, I met up with Professor Amit Das and TA Sam to travel downtown to PSTV, the Philadelphia School District’s TV station. It’s where we have class, EDUC 586 Ethnographic Filmmaking, once a month. I have a hunch that Professor Das wants us to get comfortable around big equipment so that we can dream big while making our own (small) films on (smaller) cameras. We’re collaborating with students from three Philly high schools to create and explore ethnographic questions, and depict them in documentary form.

7:30 p.m.
After a meeting for an upcoming assignment, I am on my way home with a few colleagues from the same film class: Ailing Du from the IEDP, and Armaghan Fakhraeirad, a doctoral student of Iranian music.

It’s been a long day, but I’m clearly not the worse for wear because I somehow find enough energy to ink this blog post.

Penn and GSE offer such a rich buffet of courses and opportunities that it is truly a sacrifice to pick some and miss others. On any given day, there are lectures by public figures and award-winning professors, language heritage events, and screenings of films from around the world. How can we extract the most learning possible from only 10 short courses in 12 or 18 short months? When will we “get the time” to read that article, have lunch with that friend, or take that course offered once?

Time is
Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too Short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love,
Time is not.
-Henry Van Dyke