EngagePerspectivesEvent Recap: Civic Chats Fall 2020
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Event Recap: Civic Chats Fall 2020

The SNF Paideia Program hosted three Civic Chats in the Fall 2020 semester. Read below for a recap of the events with the opportunity to watch recordings of the sessions.

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The SNF Paideia Program hosted three Civic Chats in the Fall 2020 semester. Civic Chats were developed to continue the conversation around the themes of the Year of Civic Engagement (YoCE) by introducing students to partner organizations and discussing opportunities for civic engagement on campus.

To kick off the series we invited staff from the Netter Center for Community Partnerships to learn more about Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) courses and other opportunities to participate in their programming with West Philadelphia partners. We also heard a short presentation from student leaders in Penn Leads the Vote, a non-partisan student-led initiative housed in the Netter Center, to learn about volunteer opportunities around voting and ensuring peers are registered and committed to voting. After the presentations, there was an open discussion about civic engagement. We heard from some former Netter Center students who ended up with full time jobs with Netter, chatted about the upcoming election, and finished off by making sure everyone had a voting plan.

It was such a pleasure to partner with SNF Paideia for their first Civic Chat this fall! I appreciated being given the chance to speak with staff and students about opportunities to engage meaningfully with the West Philadelphia community through Netter Center programs, including Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) courses and work-study and volunteer positions. In the course of the conversation, I was also reminded by Penn Leads the Vote about how I can become an active, well-informed voter for every election cycle (fall AND spring). I really enjoyed connecting with folks at Penn who share my passion for civic and community engagement, creating a space to trade thoughts, stories, and resources.

– Faustine Sun, Academically Based Community Service Coordinator, Netter Center

The second Civic Chat featured Penn In Washington to help students learn more about getting an internship in Washington, DC. We had a panel of two students, Abby Laform and Victor Diaz. Abby is currently interning with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema. She discussed the work she does doing research on current bills and the research she does to inform policies she writes. She explained that the work she did in her Penn In Washington courses helped inform her work with the Senator. Victor Diaz is currently working with the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) Program. He works to hire other students to the program and remarked on enjoying learning about the complexities of government. Attendees were able to ask questions to the panelists at the end.

During this difficult semester, I am grateful to the SNF Paideia Program for hosting a chat about Penn in Washington for students who wanted to learn more about what interning remotely is like. Victor and Abby were so helpful, and have made the most of their remote introductions to public service. PIW looks forward to future events with Paideia!

– Dierdre Martinez, Executive Director, Penn in Washington

You can watch the recording of the session below:


The final Civic Chat was with Penn Career Services and a representative from the new student group PIT@Penn (Public Interest Technology). The meeting started with Stephanie Nam from PIT@Penn giving a short presentation on the work of the group. PIT@Penn focuses on helping students find jobs and internships at the intersection of public service and technology and they do that work through panel discussion events and skill share events.  We then had a discussion with a recent alumn, Hannah Salazar and current senior, Rachel Zaff. Hannah spoke about her work as a Congressional Intern for Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and her previous work at Committee of Seventy and Girls Inc. Rachel spoke about her most recent experience working as a Field Organizer with the Joe Biden for President campaign. Rachel spoke about the importance of networking within the public service world and explained that one often finds different opportunities because of the connections made. Both gave advice on the timeline for finding internships in public service and suggested keeping in mind the timeline is different for various types of work. Participants were able to ask questions of the panelists at the end of the event in a Q&A session.

The speakers on our panel were engaging and knowledgeable. They had some really impressive and positive experiences to share with students also interested in public service. I especially loved the laidback feeling of the event – it was nice to talk about career options in a comfortable setting!

– Anne Dickson, Associate Director, Career Services

You can watch the recording of the session below:

We plan to hold more Civic Chats in the Spring 2021 semester. Make sure to subscribe to our listserv to receive the most up to date information about our programming.

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