A group of Penn State Brandywine students traveled during Thanksgiving break to Paris, France, where they explored Parisian culture and the arts through the campus' short-term distance education program. Here is a peek inside their journey.

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{photo by Tien Lam}

Sophomore Theressa Ha wrote:

Whenever I think of study abroad, I always think of semester-long courses in another university, in a different country. I never could have imagined that a 10-day study abroad experience would have the impact that it did on me. This past Thanksgiving break I had the wonderful privilege of going to Paris, France. At first, I was nervous because I would be in a foreign country where I would not know anyone or be able to speak the language. However, I soon learned that all of those things did not matter. I would make many new friends and learn how to communicate with others using hand signals. I had so much fun in those 10 short days and learned so much about the French culture. It is different to read and learn about the art and culture of a country through a textbook. You have to go and experience it firsthand. Words cannot describe what it feels like to actually see what was created hundreds of years ago and be able to walk through the corridors of where kings and queens held parties and political meetings. If I had the opportunity to visit France again, or any other country, I would do it in a heartbeat. Penn State Brandywine's Global Programs really changed my outlook on what study abroad means.

Junior Tien Lam wrote:

Paris was amazing! I am so grateful and happy I had the opportunity to study abroad. It not only opened my eyes, but also my mind to new and different ways of living. From the people to the food to the whole environment, everything was different and interesting. It was good to be able to step outside of my comfort zone and force myself to try new things. My overall experience was great. I took advantage of every opportunity I could over there to visit museums, try different foods, and meet new people. I also loved my group of fellow students. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to have spent time with in Paris.

Theressa Ha's photos:

Hall of Mirrors, Versailles Palace.jpg{from left: Junior Michelle Varghese; sophomore Gabrielle Dambro; and Ha in the Versailles Palace Hall of Mirrors}

Students at the Eiffel Tower.jpg{from left: Freshman Susan Wolf; Varghese; Molly Myers (University Park); freshman Angela Ball; Ha; Dambro; and Alexis Bianco (University Park) on top of the Eiffel Tower.}

Sacré-Cœur.jpg{sitting center, from left: Ha; Varghese; Wolf; Bianco; Ball; and Dambro listening to street musicians in front of Sacré-Cœur}

Versailles.jpg{from left: Varghese; Ha; Dambro; and Bianco outside Versailles Palace}

Tien Lam's photos:

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{from left: Lam; sophomore Damien Melendez; senior James Donohue; and junior Nancy Watson getting goofy in front of the Eiffel Tower.}

Tien Notre Dame Cathedral.jpg{Lam outside Notre Dame Cathedral}

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{Top from left: Sophomore Trez Malatesta; students from Univesidad Interamericana De Puerto Rico San German Interamerican; and Brandywine Assistant Director of Student Affairs Ronika Money;
Bottom from left: Justin Deloatch; freshman Lauren Lomas; and sophomore Linda Truong}  

Five Penn State Brandywine students traveled to Orlando, Fla. to participate in the National Center for Student Leadership (NCSL) Fall Conference in early November, where they enhanced their leadership skills, networked with their peers from around the world, and participated in sessions with leadership experts. 

Brandywine student Justin Deloatch has this to say about the experience:

"The events that stuck out to me the most were the workshops and how engaged every student was in all the classes I attended. Stan Pearson II taught students a fun exercise of learning something in a quick and proficient way and the example he used was teaching us to salsa dance, which was excitingly rewarding. Every speaker was top notch and they taught me the importance of people, relationships, success, passion, support, and focus. 

"While in Walt Disney World, I challenged myself to do a "Free Hugs" campaign with some of the other students, which was extremely successful ... I met new friends along the way from different states and I am currently keeping In touch with them and discussing the next NCSL conference."

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{Linda Truong and Lauren Lomas}

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{Senior Student Government Association President Pawel Zwierzchowski and Gay Straight Alliance President Trez Malatesta}

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The Cat in the Hat.jpegby Annie Gallagher, senior, HDFS

Literacy is something that many of us take for granted everyday, as many of us are so fortunate to have had the tools as children to learn how to read.

I still remember the feeling of accomplishment and pride that I felt as a young girl reading through my first book alone and the eagerness to read more. From that moment, I was hooked. I began reading for fun, I entered the local library reading challenge, I would sneakily read the Harry Potter series when I should have been sleeping, but most importantly, I discovered new stories that took me to another world and allowed me to explore the depths of my imagination. Reading was such a huge element of my childhood and I believe that my books enabled me to fall in love with reading and education.

During the summer, a few students and I learned about the importance of reading with children and the development of reading skills during a summer reading group held by Dr. Jennifer Zosh, assistant professor of Human Development and Family Studies. We examined research on e-readers and regular books and the effectiveness of each on teaching a child how to read. Through this discussion, we learned how important it is for children to hold a book, flip through its pages, and actively engage within the story. However, we also learned how scarce books are within low-income neighborhoods and school districts. Ultimately, this is where the idea for the Penn State Brandywine Children's Book Drive began.

The Undergraduate Research Club sponsored the Penn State Brandywine Children's Book Drive over the first three weeks of October, and then held an event on campus to collect books and thank the Penn State community for its support. The Undergraduate Research Club also partnered with the organization Philadelphia READS, whose efforts are similar to ours in that they strive to "build a city of readers." This organization houses a book bank, which opens its doors and offers books free of charge to Philadelphia teachers, librarians, and reading corners to build libraries for children within the community. We felt that this would be a great temporary home for our donations, as they would meet the hands of children within a week's time.

Through the support of the Penn State community, our local community, and the nutrition club, Fierce NEWtrition, we were able to collect a total of 3,080 children's books! However, since our book drive event, many individuals within the Penn State and local community have reached out to donate hundreds of more children's books to Philadelphia READS. Together, we have and will continue to provide children with the basic tools to fall in love with learning.

I feel that we should be so proud of the difference we have made. This project shows how the collective efforts of many can impact and benefit our community. I feel that our efforts and donations have impacted the lives of so many children already, and that our continued efforts will not go without notice by little hearts eager to learn how to read.

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{from left: Philadelphia Reads Assistant Director Amy Purdy and Program Director Sarah Farbo join senior Annie Gallagher and Professor Jennifer Zosh to engage children in reading games at an event culminating the book drive.}

Weathering Out Hurricane Sandy

by Dr. Laura Guertin, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences

I have been through my fair share of tropical storms and hurricane evacuations, having lived in Miami, Florida for six years. Having grown up in Connecticut and attending college in Pennsylvania, I was well prepared for snowstorms - not at all prepared for Hurricane Andrew, which hit one week after I moved to Miami in 1992! We have all seen the "how to prepare" news stories for Hurricane Sandy. But now what should we do as we wait out the storm?  Here are a few of my tips to get you through the next day or two (based directly from my experiences):

(1) Stay indoors! There is no need to go outside, unless there is a medical emergency. Although it is tempting to go stroll through the neighborhood to check out the damage, there are many hidden dangers (deep pools of water, downed power lines, etc.). Your safety should be your top priority.

(2) Keep electronic devices charged. If you still have power, keep your cell phone fully charged.  I also recommend keeping your laptop and/or iPad charged, as their screens can be used as a backup for a light (if you run out of batteries for your flashlights).

(3) Eat the perishable foods first. In planning your meals, prepare the foods in your refrigerator that may go bad if you lose power - meats and dairy products. Save the peanut butter sandwiches and potato chips for when you can no longer cook food. If you do lose power, my graduate school friends would all give you the same advice - eat the ice cream first!

(4) Curl up with a good book, and play Scrabble. Enjoy some time unplugged - we don't do this enough! Grab one of those paperback books off of your shelves and start reading. Dig through your closets and find one of those old board games and dust it off. You will remember how much fun playing Pictionary and Uno can be!

But if you are like me, and you can't help but want to see what Hurricane Sandy is up to, you can visit the National Hurricane Center, NASA images and stories, and NPR's stories.

Be safe!

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Brandywine alumna Lily Jundi (center) is all smiles surrounded by her former students in Kuwait.

Lily Jundi '03 IST not only speaks the language of computers--thanks to her Penn State education--but also is fluent in Spanish, Hebrew and several Arabic dialects, not to mention a good knowledge of Portuguese, Turkish and Italian. She adroitly switches between languages like a commuter switches trains. With her Penn State education, natural knack for languages and incurable travel bug, she's had no trouble finding work in far off lands from Delaware County.

Jundi, originally from Drexel Hill, Pa., currently teaches foreign languages at Fatih University and a school system in Ankara, Turkey. She also teaches English and information technology (IT) classes--offered in English--at a technical firm in the capital city. Prior to living in Turkey she spent several years teaching languages and IT studies at colleges in Kuwait.
Jundi attributes her love for cultures and languages to her mixed Middle Eastern heritage. She pursued that love at Penn State Brandywine, where she minored in international studies and traveled to Turkey, Spain, Greece, Italy and Egypt to complete several academic projects. She was a language tutor in the Learning Center, held student government leadership positions, helped shape the diversity initiative on campus and interned in the Information Technology Services department alongside the much-liked Gordon Crompton, who recently retired from the campus.

"Education-wise we were well prepped; the curriculum was great. As for my internship with computer services, I cannot thank them enough ... by the time I graduated, I had learned so much from them. My training was perfect. I'm very confident as to what comes my way ... whether it's a computer course or language course I'm asked to teach. It's like concrete ground I'm standing on," said Jundi.

"Working at the Learning Center gave me the opportunity to discover myself. Before that I wasn't even thinking of education or being a teacher," she added. "I wanted to be in computer systems and databases, since that was my major. I thought that was it; my future was set. But then working at the Learning Center I discovered something else in me. I wasn't limited to what I graduated with ... I have a lot more to offer."

Another international attribute of Jundi's is her nickname, "the peacemaker," a name Crompton gave to her during her internship days. Jundi explained, "Whenever there was a conflict, I would try to find the midpoint for people to meet in order to resolve the issue. I don't like problems. I don't like conflicts. I like people to work together. I like to work with people in peace. I don't like war--we talked about politics a lot especially the politics of the Middle East--which was one of the reasons I got that name ... besides just wanting to work and interact peacefully with colleagues in the department."

Perhaps diplomacy is in the bright future of this talented, multilingual Brandywine alumna.  According to Crompton, "if there's going to be peace in the world, Lily will be part of it."

-by Nancy McCann, freelance writer

To help raise awareness and funds for victims of abuse, Penn State Brandywine is asking its students, faculty, staff, alumni, family and friends to join the campus in a Brandywine Blue Out on Friday, Sept. 21, one day before the Blue Out at Beaver Stadium.

The idea is to turn the campus into a sea of blue, the official color of child abuse prevention, to show solidarity with the University and support for victims.

Proceeds from the $15 official Blue Out t-shirts currently being sold in the Brandywine Bookstore benefit the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), and donations collected on September 21 will be given to PCAR's area affiliate, Delaware County Women Against Rape (WAR).

IMG_20120817_100423.jpgEveryone who wishes to participate in the Penn State Brandywine Blue Out is encouraged to post a photo of themselves wearing blue to Twitter using the hashtag #BrandywineBlueOut, post it to the Penn State Brandywine Facebook wall on the twenty-first or email it to BW-UR@psu.edu.

The student group Penn State M.A.D.E. will set up a donation collection table during common hour and Women Against Rape will provide resources and information for victims and their families.

Candice Linehan, director of Sexual Assault Services at Delaware County Women Against Rape, said the nonprofit organization offers education programs, counseling services, survivor groups and legal advocacy for victims and their families. The organization, which also offers free legal services for civil cases, is located in Media and sees more than 2,000 clients each year, she said.

The initiative, which began at University Park, has adopted the motto "One Team. One School. One Heart. One Promise." It encourages the Penn State family to come together to make things right and asks that in addition to wearing blue either at the Brandywine campus on September 21 or at the football game at Beaver Stadium on September 22, each individual from throughout the Commonwealth make and share one personal promise that affirms his or her commitment to altruism. Compliment a person on the street, call a long lost friend or stand up to someone being bullied, the movement encourages. Promises can be tweeted using the hasthtag #OnePromise.

- Risa Page, Staff Blogger

Fair Trade Smore.jpgby Sarah DeMartino, Junior
(pictured below left)

Yesterday the Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade TrailBlazers and the campus community participated in Global Exchange's "We Want More from our S'mores" event. 

This initiative was started by Global Exchange to put pressure on the chocolate industry to stop using child labor and to continue to seek more ethical means of producing chocolate. From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., faculty, staff, and students gathered in the Vairo Library Courtyard to roast fair trade s'mores to help Global Exchange's campaign.

Fair Trade Equal Exchange chocolate (dark chocolate mini bars) was provided as well as fair trade bananas from Whole Foods. Yes, you read correctly. Fair trade bananas! These were not just any fair trade s'mores, they were gourmet fair trade s'mores! In addition to jumbo-sized marshmallows and boxes and boxes of graham crackers, we enjoyed organic strawberries (sadly those not fair trade; all the more reason why we need a domestic fair trade system). By the end of the event, a total of 45 s'mores were eaten. It was truly a wonderful and successful event!

Students at the Fair Trade Smores Event.jpgRoasting Marshmallows.jpgThumbnail image for students eating smores.JPGMarshmallows and Fair Trade Chocolate.jpgThe Ingredients for Fair Trade Smores.jpg

Shawn Meehan.jpgThe unthinkable happened in 2006 when Kathy and Pat Meehan's son, Shawn, died at the age of 24 after a yearlong battle with leukemia.

Shattered by their loss, they were embraced by family and friends, including Kathy Meehan's colleagues at Penn State Brandywine, where she is senior instructor in human development and family studies (HDFS). "The campus community came together for us in an amazing way," she remembered.

Shawn, a network engineer, had a lifelong fascination with technology, rocketry and astronomy. In 2003, he took what would be the trip of his lifetime: six weeks "to visit every air and space museum he could find across the country," Meehan recalled.

Now, six years later, the Meehan family has bid another farewell to Shawn. On Tuesday, May 22, his ashes, which were enclosed in the Dragon capsule along with the remains of 307 other civilians, hitched a ride on the Falcon 9 rocket on its way from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. to the International Space Station.

Pat and Kathy Meehan Kennedy Space Center small.jpg{Pat and Kathy Meehan at the Kennedy Space Station waiting for the Falcon 9 rocket to blast off with their sons ashes into outer space.}

The remains of James Doohan, who played Scotty on the 1960s television series "Star Trek," as well as Mercury program astronaut Gordon Cooper, were also on the flight, according to ABC News and Reuters.

Under an agreement between the spacecraft's builder and Celestis, a company that, according to its website, books memorial spaceflights to "launch a symbolic portion of your loved one's cremated remains into ... space," the ashes were contained in the rocket's second stage, which separates from the capsule just minutes into flight.

When Meehan first learned of this unique opportunity, she had an "aha" moment.  "Shawn would think this is absolutely awesome," she said. It was a five-year wait until the Celestis Earth orbit flight was launched.

The Falcon 9 rocket craft, privately owned by the company Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, was previously scheduled to launch May 19 at 4:55 a.m. The families of the "participants" were invited to attend. Two hundred families from around the world, including the Meehans, gathered in Cape Canaveral to watch. However, the launch was aborted when an engine nitrogen valve problem was detected.

This was quickly repaired and the launch was rescheduled for 3:44 a.m. on Tuesday, May 22, and this time it went off without a hitch. The Meehans, who had already left Florida for a conference in Los Angeles, watched the launch on NASA television just 20 minutes from SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne, Calif.

SpaceX, the brainchild of PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, is the first commercial company and non-governmental rocket to attempt to land at the International Space Station. Until the successful launch on May 22, only three countries--the United States, Russia and China--had sent a capsule into space.

"It's been fun to follow a tiny start-up company that builds rockets," Meehan said. "This launch is historic and opens up a whole new world of space travel."

The capsule, carrying supplies for the crew of the Space Station as well as experiments designed by students, is expected to dock with the space station on Friday, May 25. It will remain connected to the station for approximately 10 days, giving astronauts time to unload the supplies and replace them with scientific equipment for the return to Earth.

The second stage, in which Shawn's ashes remain, is expected to stay in orbit for about a year before falling back toward Earth and burning up on re-entry.

Meehan is comforted by the notion of Shawn traveling through space. "And when he comes down," she said, "he'll be a shooting star."

Pat Meehan added, "We are pleased the sky is no longer the limit for Shawn." 

- Helene Bludman, Staff Blogger

TEP_3823[2].jpgCongratulations to the more than 100 graduates of the Penn State Class of 2012 at Brandywine! We want to reiterate the wise words of advice our graduates received from our commencement keynote speaker, Wawa Inc. President/CEO Howard B. Stoeckel:

"It's important to serve others. Don't be the taker, be the giver. Be willing to make mistakes, learn from your experience, and don't take yourself to seriously."

Go forth and make us proud!

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{All photos copyright by Third Eye Productions, Inc. To order prints, click here or call 215-635-1988.}

View more videos at: http://nbcphiladelphia.com.

Not many people can say they spoke with the President of the United States, but three Brandywine students had the ear of President Barack Obama by telephone in no less than the office of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. (Check out the NBC10 video!)

The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs hosted a call with President Obama on Monday, May 7, to discuss the fight to keep federally subsidized student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1.

Sixteen local college students, including Penn State Brandywine freshmen Samantha Golay, of Sharon Hill; Christopher Kramer, of Media; and Tara Landis, of Malvern, were present in the Mayor's office for the call. Only two of those 16 students actually spoke with the President, and Kramer was one of them.
A story about the call is posted on the White House blog: http://1.usa.gov/Jg8JsJ.

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{(From left) Brandywine Admissions Counselor Rahel Teklegiorgis, Samantha Golay, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Christopher Kramer, Tara Landis}

Golay is the 2012-2013 president of the Lion Ambassador organization, a group of students on campus that provides campus tours and assists in the recruitment of future Penn State students. Ambassadors inspire visiting high school students to attend Penn State University and serve as their first examples of academic excellence. She is a business major.

Kramer represented Penn State Brandywine's Student Government Association, and is a member of THON (the largest student-run philanthropic organization in the world) and a Lion Ambassador. He is interested in pursuing either business or political science.

Landis is also a member of THON, as well as a Lion Ambassador. She is a psychology major.

The President was joined on the call by Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, who took questions from participants. Mayor Nutter tweeted about the event, and Kramer addressed the press afterwards.

- Helene Bludman, Staff Blogger