final post

There are 3 weeks left until graduation and at this point, I have just given up and let my emotions run their course. A few days ago, I bawled in front of my laptop while writing my last paper for a class. Who ever thought I would cry about that?! What is wrong with me?!

Nothing, of course. That’s just it. Having had so many opportunities in the last four years to figure out who Paige is, I realize that I am right where I am supposed to be. Even if that is in Limbo Land, as they say, or that place some people are to visit just about the time they hit the “real world,” that is a place of terror and the unknown where people float aimlessly around saying “I don’t know what I’m going to do after graduation!” The HORROR! Joking. Even if that is where I am right now, it’s perfect. It is what is meant to be.

Over the school year I’ve become increasingly interested in work with people who have disabilities, so after graduation I may venture into that arena further. Or I may find a way to continue with positive psychology without doing research. Who knows? Maybe I’ll become a parakeet farmer, fortune cookie writer, or crocodile hunter.

I would definitely like to re-iterate how grateful I am for receiving the scholarship. It has really helped out my family afford the end of my college career, and  it has given me so many incredible experiences that I have learned from (way more than in a classroom). Thank you to all who are a part of ECS and here’s to another summer of growth, exploration, and joy for the new scholars!

questioning, reflecting, and “being enough”

When I look out my window in Brighton there are the rolling green hills I described in my introductory blog entry. There are miles to run in those hills and beyond, into the pastures full of cows, horses and sheep. I have a love-hate relationship with those hills (not an odd take for a devoted runner); they provided a cheerful run when it was nice but Southern England is known for it’s fickle weather and dark storm clouds could come quickly at any hour.

My daily routine varied greatly during my time abroad – I was fortunate to be immersed in a number of programs– arts facilitation with young offenders, a stint shadowing in a therapeutic foster home, performance-making with an artist’s collective in east London, and I was a bit surprised to find that I felt quickly at home in all of the environments. But each morning, I came up against an odd problem. I would wake up in Brighton and immediately look out into the hills, anxiously trying to predict if the weather would hold up during my run. I would find myself paralyzed by the fear that the weather might go bad – dressed to run but stalling by drawing in my journal or making another piece of toast. I was confused by this pattern as I am not one to let a little bit of rain or cold stop my morning run. In fact, my friends in Chapel Hill often laugh at me for running down Cameron Ave in the middle of a thunderstorm.

For a while I ignored my habit, because this was not the kind of obstacle I expected to run into during my scholarship summer – I had prepared for tough students and new friends, cultural barriers and for getting lost on the tube but I had not prepared for such an encounter with myself. I was frustrated – this shouldn’t be the hardest part of my day, this isn’t my challenge – it can’t be. It felt like I was up against a selfish set of fears when I was supposed to be learning and working and pushing outside of my comfort zone in “real ways”.

I never quite figured out why getting out there was so tough – maybe it got lonelier out in the rain, maybe the way the ground started to smell like home was too much when I was so far from my family for the first time, maybe I just feared I wouldn’t find my way back to the house in the fog. Nonetheless, getting outside each morning had to become my obstacle to overcome. Some days were better than others, but as weeks passed in my new home and I finished my stay in Brighton, I was going out there every morning—oftentimes returning beneath the dark clouds and rain I had feared from the beginning.

Back in the U.S. , I have pondered why I have been most compelled to share this little triumph from my summer — to be honest, I have worried that it is kind of boring! In the end, I think I have shared it because it highlights the gift I have received and will continue to receive from the Eve Carson Scholarship: the opportunity to encounter unfinished parts of myself, the privilege, as I embark on my senior year at UNC, to take the time to repeat the mantra that I ask my students to remember on tough days – I am enough, I am enough. As an Eve Carson Scholar, I look forward to continuing work on my goals, both personal and professional, in service of myself and others, and always in great hope that more people realize that they are enough.

Pillowings

When I was much younger, I high-fived the normal way, joyously slapping my palm against another’s, and I shared this celebratory custom in that expected way with everyone. This still holds true, but with one exception. Around the middle of high school, and I don’t remember why I did it at the time, my mom held out her hand to high five me and without giving it much thought, I simply strayed from the norm—I casually and serenely rested my cheek in it.

We laughed, and thus began a new era of high-fiving for me. It was only with those who are closest and most dear to me that I spontaneously pillowed (pillow can be a verb, how cool is that!) in their hand. There was just something about it that I loved so much more than the regular high five. Perhaps the fleeting moment of support from them. Or the small relaxed rest in busy lives.

A small toddler named Ana taught me more about it a few days ago in San Jose, Costa Rica. Ana is frequently very sad and upset, slow to trust people and inclined to cry many times a day. I don’t know her story prior to arriving at the orphanage, but something really must have impacted her negatively. My first 2 weeks around her, she was almost never happy around me. But I didn’t give up on her. So she gradually began to trust me—to need me. I had a few small victories with her, like when I handed her a small plastic ball and pretended to be comically flustered and exasperated when she would throw it in various directions, laughing and shrieking with delight while she watched me wobble to retrieve it.

On my second to last day, Ana did something so unexpected that I felt a spike of awe and joy, barely able to believe it. While she sat upright in my lap, I was stroking her small tufts of hair and tracing her face with care, when suddenly, she laid her head in my palm. I was so touched that I could almost feel a lump in my throat. I wasn’t the only one! It was just like how I pillowed in my parents’ hands.

It was then that I realized that everyone pillows. Of course, I’m using what Ana and I have done to be an umbrella term: I mean to say that everyone, maybe even without realizing it, needs and actively finds a way to be loved more than just hearing a few “I love you”s from time to time. Ana relaxed her whole body in my lap and hand, so that I was her total support. Not everyone pillows or melts like this, but in some way every person needs someone who won’t ever give up on them. No matter how untrusting or troubled a person is, they need someone who will be there with physical love and support when it’s time to pillow.

Ana lives in the orphanage in Costa Rica I worked at for three weeks, wordlessly surviving each day among a dozen or so of her makeshift, rambunctious siblings. She is not blood related to anyone in the building, but as she grows up it will undoubtedly be important for her, and for all of them, to feel as if they really are family. I say she survives not because the orphanage is severely unbearable–on the contrary, the place is much nicer to live in than many similar facilities: they have a small swimming pool, a TV, nice beds, and nutritious foods. Rather, there were inevitable psychological issues held by most of the children. The orphanage is for children who were abused or abandoned by their families. They are safe, schooled, and well-cared for now, but I know it must be so, so hard to spend your childhood among about a dozen other children who are struggling emotionally and mentally. Volunteers are always present to play with and care for them for about 6 hours a day (a few in the morning shift and a few in the afternoon shift, in addition to the 24 hour staff), which of course is important and needed, since the children are getting the individual attention that every child deserves.

There were so many victories I experienced when I was there. A boy named Diego, who for the first few days seemed to be angry that the new volunteers were there, beckoned me one day to lie down next to him on the warm pavement by the pool after he swam in the cold water; a few minutes later after I sat up, he crawled into my lap and pulled all my limbs around him to feel both warm and loved. A boy named Esteban was one that I learned had both Asperger’s syndrome and a severe anger disorder—he had many outbursts while I was there and for the most part didn’t want to have anything to do with me; yet I didn’t give up on him and one day when I brought a parachute he hung it up and made a tent out of it, afterwards leading me inside to sit in my lap and whisper into my ear that he didn’t want me to leave. A young girl named Paola seemed to lack good social skills that most children have, and despite many of my failed attempts to connect positively with her, I told her on my last day that I would miss her and she bashfully looked down with a smile, hugged me tight, and said that she would miss me too.

I don’t yet know what I want the future to be like in terms of career—but what matters most (as I learned in California) is my purpose, something which I have been so fortunate this summer to learn about. It is not unlike that of many other peoples’ purposes around the world. To love and support through touch, through words, through actions. To strengthen hope and increase joy. To be there when people need to pillow and to be grateful for those who allow me to pillow on them.

As a quick wrap-up I want to say my thanks to all who make the Eve Carson Scholarship happen for giving me the opportunities.  This summer was incredible and I have learned so much from so many different experiences.  Thank you… to infinity and beyond.

Love,

Paige

 

 

 

Peter Pan, Hope, and Purpose: sometimes it’s not about wishing upon a star

Dearest happy humans,

It would have been expected and courteous of me to post upon this well-made website concerning my expedition to the elegant state of California a long while ago, around the week of our great Independence Day to be specific, but alas, the sweet prosperity and tranquility of the summer months consumed my mental state and I was thus unable to type for weeks on end. In other words, I forgot or didn’t feel like it every day for about a month. Happens.

My trip to California was for the purpose of attending the Third World Congress on Positive Psychology in the downtown Los Angeles Westin Bonaventure Hotel, where I stayed for 5 nights so that I could take part in 4 excellent days chockfull of anything and everything related to Positive Psychology and well-being. I never figured out why it was called a Congress—as far as I know, there were no laws passed or pacts made, aside from the decree I made with myself to make like Peter Pan and never grow up. This I say because I am pretty sure I was one of the youngest persons attending the entire conference, and being around over a thousand ‘grown-ups’ who seemingly know their careers and passions (or at least will jump at any chance to tell you about it) was so overwhelming that at times I wanted to surreptitiously hide in the bathtub of my hotel room, with coloring books and my first ever stuffed animal, whom I had cleverly named Big Kitty.

Since I had stupidly left Big Kitty at home, I mustered up some courage to act like I knew what I was doing with my life, and with my head held high I strolled into as many workshops, seminars, symposiums, speeches, and presentations as I could. I don’t remember what I had expected before arriving, but I had never experienced anything like it. Aside from the 7am to 11pm jam-packed days of constant moving from workshop to lecture to seminar, it was information overload with only a side dish of connecting with other participants or stopping to remember to breathe. Here I share only a few takeaways:

  • I learned that active effort to increase positive emotions has a stronger impact on one’s well-being than an effort to decrease negative emotions.
  • I learned that spending more time in nature increases positive emotions, creativity, and cognitive benefits, and that WebMD even has a prescription for some infirmities to be in nature for health improvements.
  • I learned, and this really connects with my Peter Pan spiel, that purpose should not be viewed as a noun, like that frequent question of what you are going to be when you grow up (i.e. “my purpose is my career, being a lawyer”), but as a verb, meaning how we actively pursue meaning in our lives (“my purpose is to be needed and to love”).  I quietly threw myself a party in my head during this workshop, when I finally came to terms with the fact that my purpose will not be my career. Knowing what I’m doing with my life is not about a career. What I’m doing with my life is exactly that, taken literally. What I do with my life: every day it is meaningful, and my purpose is who I am.
  • And last but not least, one of the most enriching concepts for me during the conference:  I learned in one of my favorite lectures that many people often equate or confuse hoping with wishing (“I hope it doesn’t rain today” is a wish)—hoping is a way to flourish in the present by thinking positively about the future (such as “It is going to be an immensely enlightening summer this year”), but wishing can be destructive since it is often wanting something that you don’t have control over. The lecture also informed me about a worldwide study, which found that 89% of people believe the future will be better, while only 50% of people believe they can make it so. Therefore the researchers concluded that hope is half optimism, half drive. In other words both thinking positively and driving oneself towards your dreams and goals. When I heard this in a lecture I thought of Disney and all the wishing upon stars—it’s a sweet song, and in the movies the princesses and Pinocchio always get what they wish for, but how often do we in the real world actually rejoice in a wish coming true after a quick, half-hearted toss of a coin in a fountain? Hope is something I have periodically struggled with in quite a detrimental way over the past few years. As a person with a physical disability, at times I have spiraled deep into a pit over what I can’t control, and I realize now that part of that is my habit of wishing and wanting what I don’t have control over, even envying others who have what I want. But I need hope—we all do. I need to live believing that everything is going to be okay, not wishing that it would be different. While I sit now and reflect upon this lecture at the conference, “How Hope Happens,” I think of the millions of people who don’t waste their time wishing. Like the young boy in the orphanage which I am now working at, who told me that he is going to Canada when he grows up because it has snow and is nice to live in, not that he wishes he was in Canada. Like the people in Haiti, whom I heard about through my friends’ stories after they visited, who are both happy and hopeful for their country and their lives, but are not wishing for something different. What a contrast it is between these hopeful people and millions in the U.S. who so often are wishing for bigger and better things. There is not much I can do to change that, but I now make a promise to help others in my life to see the difference between hoping and wishing. And I promise myself to stop wishing, and to hope with confidence and strength that everything will be alright in the end, remembering that timeless mantra: if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.

a long overdue update from across the pond

Hello friends!

I apologize for taking so long between posts! I made some changes to my work schedule and things got incredibly hectic. The last few weeks have been so full.

I haven’t gotten the chance to describe the program I am working with so here is a quick summary: The group is called Syrus Consultancy, and it is a small group that runs spoken word/poetry work shops for young people in a wide range of situations. Five years ago, the founder and director of Syrus Consultancy decided to use his story as an ex-offender to build an inspirational, arts-based program that introduces young people to artistic outlets for managing negative thoughts and behaviors, particularly those that could lead to criminal activity. The core of the program is built off a book of spoken word poems he wrote while he was incarcerated. I am enjoying getting to know Chris’ work and to see young people connecting to his story. I am especially fond of a group of boys that we work with on Mondays in Croydon. At my job in a youth program in New York I work with mainly 11-14 year old boys and I enjoy the age group so much! Boys that age have this great mix of goofy and absolutely earnest energy. It can be a bit hard to get them focused but when they are there, they produce amazing work.

In addition to delivering workshops and writing my own curriculum, I have been working on a collaborative video/performance piece with a London-based artist. I am finding that the shock of being in a new place is both incredibly inspiring and a bit daunting when I am trying to do creative work. Sometimes it feels like my brain is so full of new ideas it doesn’t know where to start! That is why I have been really glad to be working collaboratively with a slightly more experienced group of artists– I am learning a lot. We are hoping to launch a tumblr in the next few weeks that tracks our artistic process – we are using a style of collaboration where we heavily document our conversations about the piece. Be on the look out for the link! I have also gotten to attend multiple critique sessions where artists perform or present early versions of their work and then we all sit around and critique each part through a roundtable discussion. I cannot adequately express how energized I feel by working within such a vibrant artistic community.

Finally, I just returned to town after shadowing someone who is doing full-time respite foster caring in Western England. I signed on to do this shadowing because I felt like I wanted more experience working within another part of the Council Services system and it was quite the experience! I am currently collecting my thoughts about it and will be sharing a post early next week.

Time is going by so quickly, I cannot believe it has already been a whole month since I arrived.

Until next time,

Emma

Not my cup of tea, but glad I got a taste

Hey love bugs,

I have 16 days left in Philadelphia and in my internship at the Positive Psychology Center (PPC).  I have been so fortunate to have such wonderful opportunities here. The supervisors/mentors, Peggy Kern and Marie Foregeard, whom I contacted months ago asking if I could intern and help out in whatever tasks or projects they needed help on, have been so gracious and thoughtful in finding things for me to do here. It was hard for them to do so since I am only here for 5 weeks and the typical stay for interns or student helpers is a semester or even a year; however they did the best they could to still provide me with what the longer-stay students might do. This meant coming up with or finding tasks, projects, or certain steps in a research process that I could try out and learn about. This wasn’t easy, especially because of the formidably vast amount of projects throughout PPC. I am so appreciative and thankful for their accommodating efforts to help me learn.

A huge lesson I’ve learned here is that research is absolutely not my cup of tea. Sitting all day long in an office glaring at a computer screen and spending 90% of my time in my job doing statistics (gag), entering in data, and immense amounts of paperwork or dull tasks—that would make me lose my mind. Several days while at PPC I would have to take several breaks in the day to go outside and breathe in the sunshine or go back to International House to interact with people. Just as the title states, it aint what I want, but I’m glad I tried it. Not only will I be able to use this experience in the future as I find ways to positively impact people’s well-being, I have also learned so much about how this research is applied to the real world.

Anyway, here are the projects, so far, that I have worked on and helped out with:
1. Data entry of surveys that measured well-being of children in hospitals after they engaged in a creative activity.
2. Making phone calls to participants in the Wisconsin Health and Life Project.
3. Creating  blog posts on a website for Post-traumatic Growth (http://growthinitiative.org/) that people recovering from trauma can browse and derive inspiration and determination to grow from it.
4. completing modules in order to be trained in IRB (Institutional Review Board) protocol and practice
5. organizing interview transcripts that were collected in a qualitative study that aimed to learn about well-being of people with different professions and why they do what they do
6. Searching all the corners of cyberspace and the extremely formidable world of the internet for every single website, blog, article, TED talk, online activity or app, claim (etc) that has to do with happiness and positive psychology. This project has already been underway for some time, so it isn’t a huge burden for me or anything. The reason for this project is to 1) understand the explosion of movements and internet phenomenons related to self-help, happiness, well-being, and more, and 2) see if any of them are actually supported by truth and research or if each one is just another answers.com-esque opinionated how-to, having to do with every possible aspect of happiness, life satisfaction, or positivity.
–I know that sounded like a negative project. In truth, it is actually very important. Many people in the field of Psychology and in the world of science, and even those who are not, are skeptical and critical of Positive Psychology, looking down on and ridiculing it. The main reason is not that it is studying the positive side of human life and disregarding most of the negative sides, but because of the booming book and media industry related to movements on happiness or well-being, especially happiness. And the boom on the internet of how-to’s and blogs, claims and self-help guides. It is everywhere and in every country. Some people are annoyed by it or think it has all gone too far. Thus, those in the academic and scientific world look to Pos Psych as useless, unimportant, and unoriginal. Few know the truth that Pos psych is rarely related to happiness or self-help, but rather the expansive and multi-faceted study and application of what makes life worth living.

 

Thank you for reading my very long update on my journey with Positive Psychology and my internship here at PPC. I can’t say it enough--I am so honored and thankful that I have been blessed with this scholarship and these opportunities to pursue my passions. I’m thinking of Eve almost every day and how much she was driven by her passions and those of others. It means so much to me that this summer is a way for me to be driven and inspired by Eve–by both her passion and her love.

Be well! Love,Paige

 

 

 

PPC – Positive Psychology Center

Hello all!

So more on my internship at UPenn’s PPC in Philadelphia. I dug up the courage to ask my supervisors here if I could help out with a greater variety of tasks/processes/work around the center. I don’t think I could have made it through if the whole time I was here I only worked on the dull and tedious tasks, i.e. hours of copying and pasting, transcribing and entering in data, completing dull modules.

It’s a good thing I took charge of my time here and asked. Now I’m helping with some much more interesting, engaging, and different research tasks or projects, and because of this I’m learning much more than before. One project I’m helping with is to create and improve a website that some of the researchers and PhD students here that has to do with Post-traumatic Growth (PTG). Since I’m feeling lazy, here is the definition I found on UNC-Charlotte’s PTG Research Group in the Psych Dept:
What is post-traumatic growth? It is positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event. Although we coined the term posttraumatic growth, the idea that human beings can be changed by their encounters with life challenges, sometimes in radically positive ways, is not new. The theme is present in ancient spiritual and religious traditions, literature, and philosophy. What is reasonably new is the systematic study of this phenomenon by psychologists, social workers, counselors, and scholars in other traditions of clinical practice and scientific investigation.
My job on this project is to search for media (videos, links to other blogs, book excerpts, etc), research findings, stories, and more that show post-traumatic growth. Another possibility is trying to find people with PTG stories that would be willing to be interviewed. I am working with a PhD student on the blog section of the website, which serves as a more relateable, inspiring place for people who have experienced PTG or want to learn more about it for any reason. This PTG website includes a lot of information that is not necessarily easy for people to relate and derive benefits/hope/inspiration from. The blog I am working on is being created to serve that need. I’m so excited that I get to help out on the blog for the PTG website…this has real potential to help people increase their well-being, find hope, and overcome or come to terms with current/past adversity. I’m really hoping that will happen.

Another project is still slightly tedious and frankly boring, but it is still different and something I can learn a little bit from. I make phone calls to people in Wisconsin to ask them to complete a survey that follows one they took 30 years ago. This is a longitudinal study (one where participants complete two parts of the study across a long time period) called the Wisconsin Health and Life Study, which is looking to see how experience and self-rated conceptions of people in high school can predict how they turn out in adult life (in terms of well-being, life satisfaction, and health). I’m happy to be contributing to the study, even though so far I have only had one Wisconsin person pick up the phone. I kind of feel like a secretary or teleservice representative (that title sounded better than telemarketer).

The Positive Psychology Center is the reason why I’m here, although staying in the International House has been a great way to meet people from different cultures. Almost everyone that I meet hasn’t heard of Positive Psych before, but when I explain it, they usually have all sorts of things to share and comment on. All the people from different cultures/countries–Spain, Russia, Chile, Argentina, France, Italy, Greece, Pakistan, Kenya, Japan, Korea, China, England, Haiti, Brasil, and more–have different ideas, knowledge, mindsets, etc., of well-being. Students talked of all sorts of studies, practices, and books in their country, and sometimes even offered up their opinions of well-being and happiness. Some of the student’s passions or things that make them happy were disheartening to me, i.e. partying, drinking, smoking. But I know that won’t always be the case for them–young adults tend to all have that as one of their top sources of enjoyment and well-being, and in some other countries it may be more common to have those passions be what they say/think is the only thing they love to do and that makes them happy. And in other countries, people may have the values of being hard-working and succeeding as their idea of living well.
However, across the board there seems to be a movement to increase people’s well-being and happiness in many different ways. So many countries now are studying and researching aspects that fall under Positive Psychology. Even if practices or ideas do not fall under Pos Psych, there are so many people and cultures looking for new ways to improve their lives, be happier, and find a greater sense of well-being.

 

Thanks for reading and be well, my dears.

Paige

Brighton, England

Hello everyone!
I write to you from Brighton, England, where I am spending the first six weeks of my summer as an Eve Carson Scholar. While Brighton is only a fifty minute train ride away from central London, it has a culture and community all of it’s own. It is home to an eclectic youth culture — there are a few nearby universities and its also a popular relocation spot for recent university grads and practicing artists. It has some similarities to San Francisco or Portland — biking, punk fashion and culture, independent music, veganism/ vegetarianism and “local” goods are all popular. Brighton is also a geographically diverse place. Behind my house are miles of a typical looking English countryside – rolling green fields filled with grazing sheep. When you get to the top of the first hill you can see the fields and road stretching out in one direction and the Atlantic Ocean in the other! 
A bit about my summer: The vision of the Eve Carson Scholarship inspired me to create and challenging and rewarding summer experience. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to spend the summer living in a completely new place and doing the kind of work I love so much. My summer is built off my desire to develop my two major passions – art and working with young people. I am interning/shadowing with a couple of different programs based in the London area. Upon my arrival, I started work with Syrus Consultancy, a group that brings workshops to at-risk youths. I have been assisting in poetry and spoken word workshops with students who have been removed from the mainstream school system due to behavioral issues. I will also be working with Foundation 4 Life, a non-profit that runs a number of projects – mentorship programs for juvenile/young adult offenders, degree attainment support, and community-based research. On the days I am not interning or shadowing, I am working independently to create my own series of performance and writing workshops that I hope to pitch to an alternative suspension program of Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public Schools at the beginning of the fall semester. Finally, I am getting the chance to embark on a collaborative performance/visual media project with an art collective based in East London. We had our first session yesterday and I look forward to sharing more about our creative process! on It is truly a dream-come-true to be working on all of these projects simultaneously – I feel like I am a more successful practicing artist and writer when I am utilizing art as a teaching tool and I am a more effective teacher when I am making my own work. I am also incredibly excited to be shadowing some amazing educators and leaders- I have much to learn and I am soaking it all in! Finally, I am so glad to be sharing my experiences on the blog – I am thrilled to be having this adventure and so grateful to the ECS for making it a reality. 
 
-Emma

Lotsa gr8 days

Recently edited, sorry for the difficult-to-understand, random, and also unrelated-to-my-summer’s-purpose sections: they have been removed!

May 14

Arrival in Philadelphia today! Yabba dabba doo here comes adventure! Also, one of my favorite parts was making friends with some funny people on the shuttle  over to International House Philadelphia.

May 16

First day on the job/internship! I met Peggy and Marie, my supervisors (a Post-doc and a PhD student, respectively) and we organized and set up what projects I’d be helping out with while I’m here. Then I got my very own Penn student card (UPenn’s equivalent to UNC’s Onecard). It’s shiny and beautiful :)

Also, I went out to dinner (yummy pizza place) with Chin and he told me all about the MAPP program at Penn (so grateful to hear about it  face-to-face with someone!). I really think it’s something that I will do, or at least look into, after graduation. The MAPP program (Masters in Applied Positive Psychology) is for all ages, from recent grads to CEOs of companies that are looking to apply positive psychology to their company and workplace. You learn all sorts of ways that Pos Psych research can be applied to improve different areas of society. Chin and I also explored UPenn’s campus and he gave me a tour. He is such a cheerful, kind person. He  gladly  showed me and took pictures of me at all the public art displays/ statues. And helped me at the grocery store/carrying grocery bags back to iHouse!

May 18

Tonight was the big, fancy gala at iHouse where all the important, rich people who donate to iHouse come and get a meal and free drinks and dance after getting buzzed on a fancy dancefloor. It was quite interesting and funny.  I volunteered at the gala (which was not for residents) and my job was to greet and be nice to the rich people. The best part of the night though was the after party (for residents only). It went until 2am and  it was so fun to dance and let loose with the iHouse residents and the friends I had met so far (we all acted like we’d known each other for so long and I had met most of them the day before!!), and my favorite part was meeting, becoming close friends within hours, and goofing off with two girls from Pennsylvania, Samantha and Danielle. They were best friends, but that didn’t stop them from treating me like a part of their crew. I was so grateful for this joy-filled night with so many friendly and happy people!!!

May 20

One of the best nights yet! I’m glad I have some free time aside from my internship to enjoy life. I went with Samantha and Adrian to Penn’s  Landing (the pier by the Delaware (I think) river. It was SUCH a nice summer night, the water , scenery, and public art/monuments were beautiful. We had such a good time exploring, conversing, taking crazy photos, and laughing. :)

May 22

No luck in finding my cell phone that walked away last night, but  it’s still been a great day. I enjoyed work at PPC (Positive Psych Center) today. I’ve realized these past few days that research can often be preeeetty boring and tedious and repetitive. While transcribing data, doing tons of copying and pasting, and reading through the same stuff over and over again, I wasn’t too excited about it, but I still learned some great stuff and got to read stories in the interviews I looked through, see how surveys and patterns in data  could be laid out  when  transcribing, and practice some of the frequently-done tasks as a researcher. I also completed part of the training to be an IRB member, so that I am able for the next 3 years to participate in ethical research and perhaps even create my own studies that I can send to the IRB review boards to be approved as ethical and with minimal risks. Pretty useful training I must say, especially since as of right now I’m planning to give research a try and see if it’s something I want to do in the long run or at least for some amount of time.

 

All my love,

Paige

Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Hello wonderful people!

Contrary to the title, it isn’t always sunny in Philadelphia, because since I’ve been here there’s been lots of clouds and sweet smells and sounds of rain. But I’m guessing that the TV show refers to the sunny-like culture and aura of the city people and vibe.

So, here I am in Philadelphia, living in the International House (on the 13th floor whaaat?!), and interning at UPenn’s Positive Psychology Center! Today was my third day on the job. The first day mostly entailed setting and organizing the projects and the people I will be helping out with. I’m working with Margaret (Peggy) Kern and Marie Foregeard on a couple of their research projects, and I will possibly be working with Lisa Bucksbaum on the Soaringwords Project, which is where psychology researchers go in to many different hospitals and interview kids ages 6-18; the researchers interview them with a survey that measures their well-being and then present them with a drawing of “Super Monkey,” telling them that another hospitalized child had drawn it for them. Then the researchers ask if they want to draw something for another child. I believe the main idea of the project is to look at how creativity and benevolence affect well-being. Hopefully, I will get to help Lisa go into the hospitals and interview the kids, which would be faaantastic because I love to work with kids and that would be right down my alley exploring well-being and how to increase it in so many different ways and contexts.

Friday, I helped Peggy enter data and look through the Soaringwords surveys and drawings. It wasn’t necessarily the most fun task (I prefer to work face-to-face with people, especially loving on them…), but I actually ended up liking it a lot. Some of the drawings, responses, and words underneath the drawings were so heartfelt and deep—I was touched and amazed. Although I’m still not sure if I will end up doing research, I was so happy to be helping out with the important steps to improving the lives and well-being of people around the world, starting with Super Monkey.

Also on Friday I helped out Marie and her coworker Anne on their project assessing well-being in the workplace. I read through interviews of the participants where the researchers asked them many questions about their job, why they do it, and how it affects their lives. This is the qualitative part of the project, and I very much enjoyed reading the stories of these people and how they live their lives.

Lastly, I took a tour of UPenn…and had to take the obligatory photos next to the famous public art displays. It was so, so much fun, and here is some of the photoshoot:

IMG_3389

(got to pose with this handsome fellow by the giant button statue)

IMG_3381[1]
LO
VE,

Paige