Welcome to Penn Global Alumni and Alumni Clubs
With over 25,000 alumni living outside the United States, the University of Pennsylvania truly has a global presence in just about any community in the world. Moreover, Penn Alumni can be found leading organizations of every type all over the globe ranging from large corporations, to government offices, and small local associations. Penn alumni are using their education and experience to make a difference in their home country and beyond. Penn’s alumni pride also can be found around the world as exhibited by the many volunteer leaders who work diligently to serve Penn as alumni interviewers, club leaders, and local ambassadors.
In Penn’s diverse community of engaged citizens, Penn’s Regional Clubs include over 120 clubs around the world offering alumni the chance to reconnect, to attend lively events and to get involved in collaborative initiatives that impact people and communities. Club activities range in size and topics, from discussions featuring Penn Integrates Knowledge faculty members at Engaging Minds programs to intimate salon-style conversations, from celebratory happy hours to Penn sports viewing parties and from community and neighborhood service projects to group trips in the great outdoors. Penn Alumni Regional Clubs are charged with providing alumni with a variety of ways to connect to Penn from their own backyard. Events are sponsored and organized in large part by Penn Alumni volunteers and leaders.
For a listing of current Penn Clubs and School specific clubs around the world, please visit the Alumni and Alumni Club section of the Global Activity Map
Alumni Making a Global Impact
Q & A
What book would you recommend to others?
- I have trouble recommending a single book because I hold so many very close to my heart, but one book that I think deserves a wider audience is David Unaipon's 'Myths and Legends of the Australian Aborigines'. Written in 1930, it is a classic to my mind because of how it combines story with philosophy. That we can learn from these moral lessons is something that anyone can take away with them no matter where they are today.
What is your fondest memory of Penn?
- My fondest memory of Penn is the day that I arrived. I had taken Amtrak from New York and they said 'Next stop, Philadelphia!' I stood up and organised my bags. When I looked out the window I saw a small, run down city. I thought to myself, 'Is this it? Is this why I have come from the other side of the world?' I waited and waited but the train did not stop. When it did eventually grind to a halt I came out in 30th Street Station and was wowed. When I made my way to campus and saw Locust Walk, I knew immediately that I had made the right decision. Only some time later did I realise that on the train I had been looking at Camden!
What is the one thing that all visitors in your city must do, or see?
- There are so many wonderful things to do in Melbourne. For sports lovers, you can see a game of Australian Football at our coliseum - the MCG; for foodies there is so much to choose from - at the top end there is Attic, in the middle there is the Builder's Arms, and then there is Huxtaburger for the cheap seats; if you like a drink you can grab whiskey all over the city, a beer in a historic pub, or coffee everywhere; if you like shopping I would recommend Gertrude Street; and if you like museums go to the Heide. But, one thing I love to do is visit Collected Works, which is a poetry only bookstore - run down and falling to bits but always with a few great gems.
Looking back, what advice would you now want to give to yourself while you were at Penn?
- The best time of year for me was autumn. I would say, savour that time, savour how the light is thick and the trees are red and brown. I would say, enjoy the momentum of being back in school. I would say, get things done before Thanksgiving when you do down to the farm. I would say, find someone to cuddle up with for the winter. I would say, drink more tea and walk the grounds of Penn in the afternoon.
What have you done or are doing now that you believe have the most impact?
- I am a poet. I know that my poetry is an artistic and ethical contribution to the world. That I can teach through my writing in ways that don't seem obvious at first. We need people to keep making, to solve problems together, to make an impact in ways that are surprising and fun. To me, my poetry does that precisely because I love working with words and I love sharing that with people.
Who inspires you?
- I am inspired by people everywhere. In India, where there is so much cruelty and so many barriers to equality, I am inspired by the resilient every people - the man on the street, the woman labouring, the waiter, the driver, the small businessman. 400m people here do not know where their next meal is coming from. That is what it is to live a bare and difficult life. Those are the people that keep me going, those are the people that I work for.
What is your favorite Penn tradition?
- I loved the Penn Relays. I love sport and I love competition. I would love it when the big circus comes to town. I love knowing that Usain Bolt ran there, that I could do laps where so many greats have been. I remember sitting in the stands watching people give it their best shot and I felt so attached to the spectacle and the place that I cherished it forever. Sharing it with friends really made me happy that I went to Penn in the first place.
What were your favorite classes and/or professors?
- I had so many wonderful classes and professors at Penn. There were people who really left a mark on me - Kathy Peiss, Kevin Platt, Randall Collins, Paul Guyer, Steve Hahn, Tom Sugrue. But perhaps most importantly, it was Charles Bernstein. I took his class 'Experimental Writing' and learned so much - about how to write, about how to read, about how to be. I also met the closest friend I have made at Penn, who now works on public health in the Congo. He was someone who I will always be thankful for meeting and without Charles that would not have been possible.
What student groups did you participate in when you were at Penn?
- I was active in a number of reading groups - post-colonial, nineteenth century American history, queer literature. But I also founded with friends Penn Against War, which sought to end American involvement in Afghanistan. What it also meant was lobbying for transparency on Penn's endowment investments to make sure they were being made ethically. In other words, how can the university make its money work for a society we can all be proud of - solar, environmental protection, the arts.
Where did you hangout off campus?
- I lived in West Philadelphia the whole time I was at Penn. I used to go to Mariposa for my shopping, to Koch's for lunch, to Saad's for tea. Every evening I would have a couple of beers at Fiume. But I loved exploring the city. Philadelphia was the first real city I lived in. I used to play poker once a week and invariably we would find ourselves at some ungodly hour down at Pat's eating cheesesteaks. I used to go there for brunch at Sabrina's and to buy cheese at Di Bruno brothers. Then I loved the Ritz cinema and going to the Kimmel Centre. Every Wednesday, I would make dinner with Kevin Platt at his apartment in city centre. So, I go to know the city with its cracks and crevices and wrote my own stories about that place also.
When you travel do you prefer window or aisle?
- Always the aisle, no matter if it is bus, train, plane. I want to be the guy you have to ask to let you pass rather than me stepping over you as you fall asleep. I never sleep when I travel. I find it a good time to get work done. That is why I love flying between Sydney and LA. That is 14 hours of pure work time.