After almost two years of forcing my brother to come up to New York City, I finally got the chance to make the trip in the other direction and visit Washington DC this past weekend. While I was hoping to finally check off the cherry blossoms from my bucket list, the never ending winter foiled those plans. Luckily, thanks to some especially fortuitous timing and a last minute scramble, a few of my college friends from Penn (and one straggler from Princeton, ahem) managed to all convene in DC for a spontaneous reunion! As much as I love my new post-grad life in New York (I think I'm one of the only people that prefers "real life" to college...), seeing everybody in one place reminded me of what I truly value from my college experience. Yes, I had wonderful professors and a pretty great education, but most importantly, I was surrounded by an incredibly diverse group of people who were all high-achievers in vastly different fields. When I first got to Penn, I shunned the word "feminist", had no idea what racist microaggresions were, wouldn't have recognized privilege even if it slapped me in the face, and all around just knew so little about society! The diverse ethnic, cultural, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds of this group here as well as so many more of my friends at Penn totally transformed my viewpoints on life, society, education, and culture. Even though we didn't realize how diverse our little reunion actually was, looking at these photographs now brings so much joy to my heart. Beauty truly has no bounds - just look at these people! Beyond the lofty thoughts, though, of course the whole weekend was just an all around great time. I got to explore more of the city, meet my brother's friends, experience some epic brunches (shoutout to Tonic for their ridiculous breakfast tots and Busboys & Poets for their very unique Iraqi corned beef hash!), experience one of the weirdest shows I'll probably ever see, eat a gigantic passion fruit macaron from Bakers & Baristas (although it wasn't a "real" macaron in my humble opinion #ladureesnob), check out the incredible Newseum (the Pulitzer Prize photo exhibit brought tears to my eyes multiple times), re-live my study abroad semester with a friend at Nando's, and of course force everybody to pose for portraits and more portraits. Can't wait to travel more!
university of pennsylvania
When I look back on my four years at Penn, what will I remember? I know the memories that stand out the most to me today, but I wonder what I'll remember six months from now, 20 years from now, and which stories I choose to highlight as more and more time passes on. There's obviously the phenomenal education that I received from The Wharton School, but my education has been so much more than just lectures and exams. There's the insanity of group projects and team dynamics like freshman year MGMT 100 where we routinely booked 8 GSRs back to back and then my Impact Investment team this year where our main thread had the subject line "Kevin Sucks!!!!" for over 40 emails. There have been bonds formed over the collective struggles of junior spring OCR, leaving core classes for senior year, and trying to write as tiny as possible for our formula sheets. There have been late night Wawa runs and Insomnia deliveries, and who can forget staying up until 5:30AM in the Struggle Booth? At the same time, there have been classes beyond Wharton that have defined my life in ways I never imagined. Adding Digital Photography as a 6th class my second semester senior year was a little aggressive, but it's fueled this blog and pushed the boundaries of my creativity more than any other class at Penn. Without my Asian American Communities class, I would probably still be uncomfortable with admitting that I am an Asian American, something that I've embraced more and more in the past year.
But above all else, it's the friendships that have shaped my life. I have found people that truly know me inside and out. People who understand my quirks and oddities, yet love me anyway. I'm still amazed that my insane freshman hall experience resulted in some of my best friends at Penn. I'll never forget the time we installed an elliptical in our balcony, or the time I unwittingly drank beer water for 2 weeks out of my Brita, or the time when the dining hall was unprepared for Snowpocalypse and we had to live off of bread rinds. I've lived with two amazing houses which has fostered relationships that are going to last a lifetime, and I've spent four years with the amazing women of Chi Omega and become a real family with my lineage. I delved so much deeper into my faith thanks to Greek IV and found relationships in the Greek community beyond what I could imagine my freshman year. And who can forget all the people beyond Penn as a physical place? There was that time I thought I was terrified of being separated from a Christian community for 9+ months, and God sent me the most beautiful small group at Redeemer in NYC and plopped me into the world of Martha's Vineyard FOCUS. And of course, there's London. I don't think enough blog posts will ever describe the love in my heart that I have for my group from London - these people helped me find myself, even though I was thousands of miles away from home.
So a huge thank you to everybody who has shaped my life and my experience at Penn. I couldn't have done any of it without you, and God knows I wouldn't be who I am today without you all either. I started this journey such a different person, and now, four years later, I finally feel like I am who I am meant to be. And yes, it's an amazing place to be.
During my portrait assignment, I did a really fun photoshoot with Kareli, and really loved being able to give her some beautiful pictures of herself! I thought all of that was done and over with, but her close group of friends actually asked me ever so nicely if I'd be willing to do a photoshoot with all of them! I had to first explain that I only had about 3 months of experience with this camera (I literally bought it back in November), but if they were okay with that risk, then sure why not? The more the merrier! It was definitely a different experience shooting a group this large! I felt the need to take a LOT more shots in case one person was blinking or someone else's hair flew in her face. It was also more difficult to find spaces for group shots where the background was consistent or the lighting was the same on everybody's faces. Also, with Kareli's individual portraits, I was able to do a wide aperture to blur out the background, but I often had to shoot the groups with a larger depth of field to counterbalance the distance. Luckily, it was a beautiful and sunny day, so the lighting wasn't impacted too much! I honestly had the best time shooting these girls.
Without further ado, I present these seven gorgeous ladies: Arielle, Steph, Vivian, Zuzanna, Brett, Kareli, and Ali
And last, but not least, the most hilarious top model shot of the day. Too great!