Class Dismissed?

Students at Bryn Mawr say economic class is noticeable, but doesn’t define the school

By Kady Ashcraft

Two girls sit around the television, late Thursday night, in a common room in one of Bryn Mawr College’s dorms. They are watching reruns of MTV’s “Sixteen and Pregnant” and commenting on the poor parenting skills of the young reality TV mothers.

They are both lounging in sweat pants, with their glasses on after taking out their contacts. One of the girls is on significant financial aid and another one’s parents paid for her entire four years at Bryn Mawr with a single check.

A survey taken of Bryn Mawr College students that showed a similar wide range of incomes: About 29 percent of the students who responded come from households with income of $50,000 a year; while 11 percent came from households earning over $150,000, 60 percent fall between these two benchmarks. Clearly, there is a spread of wealth at Bryn Mawr.

But does this range of income affect how students interact with one another? Is there a stigma to how little, or how much wealth a student comes from? Would a student choose a friend based on economic class?

The resounding answer is, “Not really.”

The survey sent out to Bryn Mawr students had a 12 percent response rate, a significant sample of the 1,200 who attend the Main Line school.

The survey said that while 66 percent wished there was more discussion of class on campus, 84 percent agreed that economic class did not determine social groups.

Between Two Worlds

Korean students in American colleges must wrestle with their identities and sense of belonging

By Cho Park

“I don’t know,” laughed Justin Wee, a freshman at Haverford, as he ran his fingers through his hair. “Does anyone ever belong anywhere?”

It’s a question echoed by many students from Korea who have chosen to study in the United States. With America renown as the land of opportunity, many Korean parents have seized the chance to send their children to colleges in the United States, hoping to provide them a better future. According to the Institute of International Education, South Korea, with a population of 50 million, ranks third in the number of students sent to America. China and India, with populations of over a billion, rank first and second respectively.

While living in the U.S., some Korean students have easily adopted American customs. Others have been hit with severe homesickness that has prevented them from enjoying college life. On one end of the spectrum is Samantha Rim, a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College who said that she had “adapted to the American lifestyle quite well.”

For Rim, coming to college in the States was nerve-wracking at first. Rim had attended the same international school in Korea from second grade through high school, and had grown up with the same group of friends for years.

“I didn’t know if I could make new friends, after having had the same friends for so long,” she said. “I’m so glad that I had no problems – I know some of my high school friends did when they also came to the States.”

Rim had never lived in America before college; her only experiences with the States stemmed from summer trips to her aunt who lived in California. Instead, she had called Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Singapore her home before settling down to live in Korea. With an international origin, Rim recalled her childhood with fondness.

“I think I’d probably like to settle down in Southeast Asia later… I have so many good memories from there, and it really gave me a multi-cultural experience in a way that the States hasn’t really done for me,” Rim said wistfully.

For someone who has lived in Korea for so long, Rim has decidedly American tastes. Her favorite television shows are American. Her clothes are exclusively American brands. When talking with her friends, her language of choice is English – her Korean comes out with a mild accent. Although she has a range of multi-ethnic friends, she she chooses to go Global Covenant Church, a church known for its predominantly Korean-American congregation.

“I really click with the people there, I guess because I went to a Korean-American church back home,” Rim said.

She enjoys college life with zest, dressing up during weekends and going out to party at nearby Haverford and Swarthmore. With her smooth, tan skin and an exotic face that is always carefully made up, Rim has many admirers from both schools.

To many, Rim may seem like a success case. She has effectively integrated herself into college life at Bryn Mawr, with a busy social life and an innumerable amount of friends keeping her occupied. Yet she still admitted that “I call my parents every day, and frequently talk to my ex-boyfriend from high school… he’s part of what I feel is home, which helps me deal with things in some ways.”

On the other end of the spectrum, then, is Jenny Oh, another sophomore at Bryn Mawr College who found the transition between Asia and America more difficult. Unlike Rim, Oh is more reticent when it comes to meeting new people, although she chatters endlessly with those she does become close with. Continue reading

Stress City

How life at Bryn Mawr can stress students to the point of breaking

By Courtney Pinkerton

“If someone had described to me how my college experience would turn out three or four years ago, I would have stared at them in disbelief before laughing politely.”

But this 5’7”, lanky, brunette from New York City, in the midst of finals once again, is a different person than she was three or four years ago because of this experience, and even now wonders if it was for the best.

Before coming to Bryn Mawr College, Anne described herself as having been a well-adjusted, Honor student in high school. (We are using a pseudonym in exchange for her candor about her personal experiences.)

“I was high-achieving, just like my siblings,” she says, shrugging casually. “It’s a little bit of nature and nurture: we’re all pretty smart, but the environment we grew up, in between my parents and each other, also contributed to a culture of working hard in school and always trying to move ‘up’ in that regard.”

“I worked hard at a good school, but I wasn’t overwhelmed,” she continued, describing other “normalizing” aspects of her first eighteen years growing up. “I ran track, went to football games, had movie nights with the girls, and went on dates with guys.”

“It was a generally healthy lifestyle,” she laughs, “Complete with lots of friends and an appropriate sleep cycle!”

So, what changed after high school? After all, Anne went onto college that September just like her fellow high school graduates, and thousands of other 17- and 18-year-olds across the nation.

Yet, Anne didn’t go on to a school that automatically accepted her because she had graduated in the top 10 percent. Her college decision wasn’t determined by the institution’s vicinity to her childhood home, or because a family member was a graduate.

Anne chose Bryn Mawr College because “it’s a school with a great reputation for having a rigorous curriculum, a wonderful history, and a beautiful campus, and I fell in love with all of those when I researched the school online and visited the campus over Spring Break during junior year” of high school.

Indeed, Bryn Mawr is ranked the twenty-fifth top liberal arts college nationwide by U.S. News and World Report, but it is also listed among the25 institutions with the most rigorous workload, noted as “the schools that are most likely to keep you studying late into the night.”

In fact, it’s ranked higher for being a “demanding” school than a good one.

This report’s description is in line with what’s been reported about Bryn Mawr and other schools on the list lately: each of these top-tier campuses have become their own little microcosmic “stress cities”, possessing schedules and stress levels reminiscent of the lifestyle of a high-powered, corporate world member, or a new lawyer working in the criminal justice field.

“I didn’t expect to be stressed out for the sake of being stressed out,” Anne asserts. “Instead, I feel as though there’s a culture of stress here, and pressure to maintain it.”

“I don’t know who is feeling validated by such an environment, but it’s not healthy, appropriate, or worth bragging about,” she added. “And I’d like to be allowed to relax from time to time; I don’t want to feel guilty for getting a decent amount of sleep.

In fact, over the last few years, reports of overwhelming stress levels, associated behaviors, and other stress-related incidents have increased among students at the Bryn Mawr, according to student health and school public safety officials. It is especially visible during exam periods. Continue reading

Three Profiles

Three Profiles of BiCo people:

Davanshi Vaid, who beat is Bryn Mawr’s culture, offers a profile of a woman who is one of the McBride Scholars at the school.  It’s the program that gives older women a chance to return to college.

Erin Seglem, whose beat is the sport of running, profiles Haverford Coach Tom Donnelly, one of the most successful track and cross-country coaches in America.

Molly Minden, whose beat is the Soldidarity Economy, tells the tale of a Haverford professor who is an expert in this emerging field.



Offering a Second Chance

Meet Noa Eagles, one of the McBride scholars at Bryn Mawr College

By Devanshi Vaid

Noa Eagles is more than just your average Bryn Mawr student. A junior in college, she also happens to be a full-time wife, a mother to a four-year-old boy, and an expecting mother to a child due to be born in July.

None of this would be apparent from just a glance at her though.

On this day, she is dressed in a grey, full-sleeved Bryn Mawr hoodie and skinny jeans, with her arms adorned in bracelets and the occasional tattoo. This is matched with her wide, free smile that she wears on a regular basis. In passing, she appears to be just another student, though a little bit older.

Eagles, 33, is originally from Lancaster Pa. She is currently living in Havertown Pa. with her husband Patrick and son, Logan. Along with being a commuter student, she is one of the 20 McBride students at Bryn Mawr.

The McBride program is designed to give students of “non-traditional age” — they must be above 24 years of age to apply for the program — a second chance at college if for some reason they were unable to attend or complete their college education following high school. The program resembles a scholarship program and students are eligible for funding to help them pay the costs of attending the elite college.

The program, while helpful in the purpose it serves, was not always this way. Eagles said it was originally designed to cater towards “rich Main Line women who had nothing to do with their time.” When it was started, it was a source of financial gain for the college. Much has changed since then – the program now works as a source of funding and support – reaching out to women who need it more, and helping them do what it takes to both attend and graduate from Bryn Mawr.

The change in the program was met with a similar change in the number of McBrides that were admitted every year – the trend over the last few years is that five McBrides have been accepted into Bryn Mawr every year. Eagles isn’t complaining about the smaller numbers, as far as she can see, the smaller number allows for each of them to get a lot more individual attention and support – which goes a long way.

When describing her fellow McBride Scholars, Eagles said, “We all have stories to tell, we all have had some sort of interruption in our lives that didn’t allow us to go directly from high school to college. But at the same time, we’re all diverse – our stories tie us together but also highlight what makes us unique.” She paused to grin, her eyes gleaming, and continued, “We’re all fucking brilliant.”

Eagles knows about stories. Her own is an indicator of her determination and strength.

In high school Eagles had applied and been accepted into Millersville University. Following her graduation however, at age 17, she decided not to attend the college and chose instead to move out of her house and gain her independence. She lived downtown and worked for a while. Soon after, she was enrolled in Harrisburg community college and had a job working as a rehabilitation agent in a halfway house for people who had just released from mental health institutions.

She was forced to stop working and drop out of college a little while later – causing the largest and longest break in her schooling. She was hospitalized for an eating disorder that she had been battling with since she was 10 years old. Eagles when talking about her disorder, said “It almost killed me several times… I was constantly in and out of hospitals. I had a heart attack when I was 19.”

She battled with her disorder until she was 26 years old. And then she found psychodrama. Continue reading

Leader of the Goats

Tom Donnelly of Haverford College is one of the winningest coaches in the world of running

By Erin Seglem

Tom Donnelly talks quickly, rattling off a long list of distances and times. “They’re gonna run the bus route first,” he says. Then stops, squinting a little bit, “Do you know what the bus route is?” Immediately, he grabs a pen and paper, laying the pad out on his desk. He starts to draw. As he explains the route his runners will be taking as part of the day’s interval work out, his crisp voice picks up speed. It’s easy for him to envision the familiar course. He has, after all, been coaching these kinds of workouts since 1975.

Donnelly, 60, has been the men’s track and cross-country coach at Haverford College, a 1200 student Division III liberal arts school in suburban Philadelphia, for the last 37 years.

Coach Tom Donnelly

He has coached his team to countess conference championships, and helped 132 men achieve All-American status between track and cross-country. Twenty-five of his runners have also taken home individual national championships. In 2011, the Haverford men, also called “The Goats,” took the Centennial Conference Championships by storm. Along the side of the course, a runner from Dickinson college, which is Haverford’s chief conference rival, held up a homemade sign: “This year, 12% of the Centennial Conference has 83% of the championships. OCCUPY HAVERFORD.” The timely sentiment was true. Every year, other Centennial conference teams work to bring down the small but mighty college but they rarely succeed. This year, the Goats defended their championship title with both the individual and team championship. Donnelly was also awarded coach of the year.

While Donnelly rattles off the times and short distance “pick ups” included in “the bus route,” a short, car-free loop that goes through parts of Haverford and Ardmore, he leans back in his chair. For a second, his head is framed by a dozen all-American certificates. In fact, the white walls of his office are heavily decorated by All-American and championship certificates. None of them, however, say, “Tom Donnelly.” Over the last several decades, Donnelly has collected multiple “Coach of the Year” awards too, from the conference, regional and national levels. None of those trophies are within view.

“You will never see one Coach of the year trophy,” said Brian Sokas, a sophomore Goat. “Yeah,” another, Jeff Duncan, class of 2015, adds, “he throws them away.”

Though Donnelly happily talks about his childhood, one would never realize all of the success the coach had as a runner at Villanova University in the mid to late 1960s. He is a local kid. He grew up in the Olney section of Philadelphia and his father was a roofer. He went to La Salle High School and before attending Villanova. Recruited to run, he was a multi-time all-American and ran on national championship teams. When his college career is mentioned he quickly brushes it off, “Nah,” he waves a hand, “I wasn’t that good. I just ran with good guys.” Donnelly has retained that sense of modesty. According to legend, in 2001, the same day that J.B. Haglund, Haverford, class of 2002, took 1st at the National Cross country championships, Donnelly took his coach of the year award and tossed it into the Mississippi River. Donnelly would always prefer to talk about his athletes’ successes, rather than his own. “A coach is only one person,” he says. Continue reading

The Opposite of Capitalism

What is the Solidarity Economy? Read on to find out

By Molly Minden

He once smuggled arms into Georgia. Accidentally. He has done teach-ins at the current Occupy Movement. As a grad student at Duke, he participated in sit-ins against sweat-shop labor.

His name is Craig Borowiak and he is a political science professor at Haverford College.

“As an activist but also as a scholar, the phenomenon of the anti sweatshop movement is fascinating to me” he said.

A small wiry man with grey-blue eyes, he sat at the head of his desk and gently folded his hands together in thought. His desk was covered in stack of paper and folders. Leaflets about international study and global governance floated around in the piles.

His walls were lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves about democracy and globalization and social movements. Books about ecovillages and cooperatives and accountability stacked up against the shelves. The huge text right in front of him read “Government and Climate Change.”

Behind him hung finger painting with red and purple dots on yellow paper. On the shelf beside it sat a picture of a beaming woman with wavy black hair and thin lips. Borowiak’s life partner, Nilgun Uygun, teaches anthropology at Haverford. In the picture, she clasped her arms around a grinning child, also with dark hair and dark eyes- their eight year old son. The three of them live on Haverford’s campus.

In his early forties, Borowiak is an associate professor. But he doesn’t research William Faulkner’s metaphorical articulation or the politics of the Carter administration. His work is rooted in the here and now.

Borowiak didn’t even know what the Solidarity Economy was until five years ago. He thought it meant simply paying people well and treating people well.

He was interested so he started studying it. He discovered many different definitions, but all with the core idea of people over profit.

He started mapping out where the solidarity economy was in Philadelphia. The point was to see that it existed. In Philadelphia alone he mapped over two-hundred solidarity economy organizations onto his research website.

For him, it is a presence to be reckoned with.

Yet it’s still a hard movement to define.

“There is no single definition,” said Borowiak.

In Brazil, the definition is different than Canada. In Argentina, the definition is different than in the United States.

But Borowiak’s map includes everything from artist and childcare cooperatives to community development companies. They are organizations that work outside traditional capitalism.

Soon, the online map will use open-source software that anyone can edit and contribute to. This software is about collaboration, not competition. The software itself is part of the solidarity economy.

Since Borowiak started this project, a global mapping initiative of the solidarity economy has also emerged. Borowiak pulled out a pamphlet with a world map on it. Color coded dots marked the solidarity economy around the world, from food coops to community land trusts. Continue reading

Outside the Bubble

Four stories about people and places outside of the Bryn Mawr-Haverford community:

Samara Ahmed, who covers the Muslim community, offers a prfile of the Masjid Makkah, a mosque that has operated in a poor section of North Philadelphia since 1962.

Rebecca Shaw, whose beat is literary Philadelphia, tells the tale of Children’s Book World, a bookstore in Haverford that has survived the forces that have closed so many other bookstores in the region.

Ben Porten, who covers music, has a profile ofan amazing young man named Tyree Dumas, an inner-city guy who uses music and dance to keep young black males in school.

Bianca Heyward, whose beat is fashion, has a profile of a rising star in the fashion world: shoe designer Stacey Howard.

The Tale of an Urban Mosque

The Maskid Makkah has served its community since 1962

By Samara Ahmed

Drive down West Susquehanna Avenue in North Philadelphia and you will see stores and restaurants with counters protected by thick walls of bulletproof plexiglass, neglected lots, and lines of rowhouses with painted white columns. Go a little further, and you will come across, a tall, mint-green building that sticks out in this neighborhood.

This is the home of Masjid Makkah, an anchor for North Philadelphia Muslims since 1962.

The Masjid is one of the oldest and biggest orthodox mosques in the area, offering 5 daily prayers, and weekend classes on Islamic studies. It has the capacity to hold over 700 people and serves as a religious and social center in the region, drawing around 350 people each week during Salaat-ul-Jumma, or Friday prayer.

Sister Ayesha Begum, an unassuming woman with light skin and a no-nonsense attitude, established the Hyderabad House Inc., a non-profit organization that, in its mission statement, describes itself like “other Muslim organizations involved in community work, with greater emphasis in education and establishing prayers among the communities.”

The Masjid Makkah

The Hyderabad House Inc. operates the masjid, and also publishes a newspaper called the Hyderabad Times, as well as an International Almanac. Sister Begum is best known for publishing a facsimile reproduction of the ‘Uthmna Dzu-Nurain,’ from the manuscript of Caliph Sayidina, containing Surah-Yasin, one of the most frequently read chapters of the Qur’an.

Today, she is sitting in the lobby, reading from a book when an African-American man in a dirty yellow windbreaker and light blue jeans enters the masjid, slamming the door behind him.

“I don’t know where the Imam is, this the first time I’ve been here, but the brother gave me $2.00 and fifty cent. I’m trying to get back over Jersey,” he announces, to no one in particular.

Sister Begum stands up. “Okay, I’ll give you a few dollars” she tells him, whispering something to her friend in Urdu.

“I need like 4 to 5 dollars altogether,” he tells her “the brothers out there told me to come over here.”

”They could have given you something” she says disapprovingly.

“They gave me $2.00,” he says. “I need like $4.50 to get the bus back over to Jersey.”

She pulls out a key from her pocket, and goes into an office. When she comes out, she has few dollars with her, and hands them over. The man takes the money, mumbles his thanks and leaves. Begum then sits back down again.

“There’s so much going on with Muslims after 9/11. We don’t want to put my masjid in jeopardy,” she says “you have to be careful.” Continue reading

A Special Bookstore

Children’s Book World in Haverford is a special place for children and parents

By Rebecca Shaw


A man and his wife walk into Children’s Book World, an independent bookstore in Haverford, Pennsylvania. They want to buy their granddaughter the initial Eloise, a series about a little girl who lives in the Plaza hotel in New York that was first published in 1955.

Smiles spread across the faces of the booksellers working at the store. One bookseller, Leslie, walks immediately towards the picture-book section of the store. She pulls out all the Eloise picture books she can find from the bookshelves.

“Well I found Eloise in Paris and Eloise Takes A Bath,” she says handing the books to the couple. “But I’m sure we have the original—I saw it the other day, give me two seconds, I’m going to look in the back.”

Julie, another bookseller, stands behind the cash register counter. She begins talking to the couple.

“Eloise was my favorite book as a child. Your granddaughter is going to love it. Such a great story.”

“You don’t think it’s too juvenile,” the man asks. “ My granddaughter is a genius.”

“No, it’s not juvenile at all. I can read it to you, when Leslie comes back.” says Julie.

“Found it!” says Leslie.

“Ok, you’re sure it’s not below her reading level? My granddaughter is going to a school for gifted students in New York City. She’s a beauty too,” he says as he shows Leslie and Julie a picture of his granddaughter.

“ Eloise!” says Bookseller Sara, running out from the storage room. She grabs the book from Leslie and starts to read out loud from it.

“Well, you just witnessed a public dramatic reading of Eloise.” Julie says laughing, as she gift-wraps the book for the couple. “Your granddaughter is going to love it.”


Every employee at Children’s Book World strives to place the perfect book in the hands of the perfect child.

In order to achieve this goal, all employees working at Children’s Book World are required to read every single book that comes into the store.

Children’s Book World owner, Hannah Schwartz along with her daughter, the store manager Heather Schwartz, attribute this requirement as one reason for the store’s longevity and success.

“When people shop here, they want our recommendations of what books their children would like,” explained Heather Schwartz. “We try hard to talk to the children to help find out what they enjoy reading, and then find books that match their interests. For instance, someone may need a book for a book report. If the child likes mysteries, we show him or her the mystery books available at the store and we discuss those books with the child. We sell books that fit the needs of every child.”

Before opening Children’s Book World in 1989, the owner, Hannah Swartz, worked as the children’s book-buyer for a decade. She was the book-buyer for the children’s section of an independent general bookstore called The Book House in Ardmore, Pennsylvania’s Suburban Square.

With the support of her family, Hannah Schwartz decided to open her own independent bookstore specifically for children. Heather Schwartz, who recently graduated college in 1989, helped her mother with the store for a few years. She then left the store to start a family and to open her own crafts supplies store in Ardmore’s Suburban Square.

Today, nearly 23 years after opening the store, Children’s Book World remains one of the few independent bookstores in the Main Line area.

“There used to be about six independent bookstores in the Main Line area that no longer exist,” said Heather Schwartz. “Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer of us left in this area.” Continue reading