Search results: Philadelphia

Wisdom and inspiration from 7 famous Philadelphians

9 Jun

The modern city was founded by William Penn in 1682, but the Philadelphia area was originally home to the Lenape people, a Native American tribe. In the 18th century, Philadelphia played a crucial role in the American Revolution. Over time, it has been the birthplace and home of people who have made history in different ways. Here are a few of them.

(founding father of the United States and founder of the University of Pennsylvania)
Engraving of Benjamin Franklin on specimen copy of $100 note“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

(actress, comedian, writer, producer)Lid of Ben & Jerry's pint tub of Liz Lemon flavor ice cream, with picture of Tina Fey“You can tell how smart people are by what they laugh at.”

(businessman and founder of the city of Philadelphia)William Penn portrait by Frederick Lamb“There is a zeal without knowledge, that is superstition. There is a zeal against knowledge, that is interest or faction; there is a zeal with knowledge, that is religion; and if you will view the countries of cruelty, you will find them superstitious rather than religious. Religion is gentle, it makes men better, more friendly, loving and patient than before.”

(Olympic gymnast)
Mohini Bhardwaj, Olympic gymnast, doing floor exercises
“The reason I do gymnastics is I love to compete. I love the adrenaline, the pressure, the satisfaction of doing well.”

(professor of biochemistry and science fiction writer)
Portrait of Isaac Asimov by Rowena Morrill
“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I’ve found it!), but ‘That’s funny…'”

(cultural anthropologist)
Black-and-white photo from 1950 of Margaret Mead before a bookcase, reading a book
“Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.”

(electrical engineer and entrepreneur)
Black-and-white still from video showing Amar Bose writing on a blackboard
“We did experiments with the Boston Symphony for many years where we measured the angles of incidence of sound arriving at the ears of the audience, then took the measurements back to MIT and analyzed them.”

 (Image credits: Tina Fey ice cream lid photo by Mike Mozart; portrait of William Penn by Frederick Lamb; portrait of Isaac Asimov by Rowena Morrill; still of Amar Bose from this video)

By: BrainGain Staff Writer

Word Nerd: The many meanings of Philadelphia

30 May

This week kicked off with the first of three sessions of the Knowledge@Wharton High School (KWHS) summer program. As we speak, 23 students are at the Wharton School in Philadelphia. Another 76 will head there for two more sessions, to be held in June and July. That got us wondering about all the possible meanings of the name Philadelphia.

Above: Philadelphia skyline – view from South Street Bridge (photo by Jordan Staub, used under CC BY 2.0 licence)

Above: Philadelphia skyline – view from South Street Bridge (photo by Jordan Staub, used under CC BY 2.0 licence)

Founded in 1682, Philadelphia is perhaps the most historic city in the US – home of the country’s first library (1731), first hospital (1751), and first medical school (the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School, founded 1765). It was the country’s capital from 1790 to 1800. It was also an early industrial hub, and home to the first US stock exchange (1790) and first business school (1881 – Wharton, of course). It’s also the birthplace of the US Marine Corps, and was a prime destination for the Great Migration (1910-1970), or the movement of some 6 million African-Americans from the rural South to urban areas in the North and Midwest (African-Americans now make up more than 40% of the city’s population).

Above: The ‘Love Statue’ in JFK Plaza is one of Philadelphia’s best known landmarks. The fountain is dyed pink in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (photo by nakashi, used under CC BY 2.0 licence)

Above: The ‘Love Statue’ in JFK Plaza is one of Philadelphia’s best known landmarks. The fountain is dyed pink in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (photo by nakashi, used under CC BY 2.0 licence)

But what kind of name is Philadelphia? How did the city get it? In Greek, phileo means ‘love’, and adelphos means ‘brother’. So Philadelphia means ‘brotherly love’. The city’s founder, William Penn, was an English Quaker, and knew firsthand what religious persecution was like. He wanted his city to be one where all people could worship freely.

Today, the city’s name is associated worldwide with a famous brand of cream cheese. But the cheese is not from Philadelphia – it was invented in New York, and named ‘Philadelphia’ after the city renowned for the quality of its food.


Above: Philadelphia’s reputation for quality helped brand this New York cream cheese. These boxes are for sale in Lima, Peru (photo by David Berkowitz, used under CC BY 2.0 licence)

The term ‘Philadelphia lawyer’ once meant a competent and expert lawyer. But in a litigious country like the US, where lawyers are popular but not well-loved, the term now carries a negative connotation, and refers to shrewd lawyers who exploit technicalities.

The city also lends its name to an abnormality – the ‘Philadelphia chromosome’ – found in patients suffering from leukemia, because the lab where it was first noted is in this city.

Before William Penn founded his city, though, there were other Philadelphias. Among the most ancient of them was the Turkish city that is now known as Alaşehir. The New Testament Book of Revelation mentions it as one of the seven churches of Asia.

What is today Amman, the capital of Jordan, was also once known as Philadelphia. The site of one of the largest ancient settlements in western Asia, which goes back to 7,250 BCE, it was previously known as ‘Ain Ghazal and Rabbath Ammon. In the wake of the conquest by Alexander the Great, the area was heavily influenced by Greek culture. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Macedonian ruler of Egypt, occupied and rebuilt Amman, and named it Philadelphia after himself.

There are Philadelphias around the world, including in Germany, South Africa, and the UK. There are about a dozen Philadelphias in the US itself.

Check out this video of a song that The Boss wrote for the 1993 film Philadelphia. It was one of the first mainstream Hollywood movies to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia.

And we leave you with this delightful 2012 photo of a young visitor to the White House, named Jacob Philadelphia, who wondered if US President Barack Obama’s hair felt the same as his own.

Above: Little Jacob Philadelphia asked if US President Barack Obama’s hair felt like his own, to which Obama replied, “Touch it, dude!”(photo by Pete Souza for the White House)

Above: Little Jacob Philadelphia asked if US President Barack Obama’s hair felt like his own, to which Obama replied, “Touch it, dude!”(photo by Pete Souza for the White House)

By: Uma Asher

A student draws inspiration from the dabbawalas of Mumbai

13 Sep

Uday Bansal, a high school senior from Delhi Public School, RK Puram, traveled from his home in New Delhi, India, this summer to participate in the KWHS Global Young Leaders Academy at The Wharton School in Philadelphia. While there, he learned about how entrepreneurs work to identify needs in society in order to develop successful business models. That lesson struck a chord with him and became the inspiration for this article that he wrote about Mumbai’s dabbawalas. Not sure what that is? Read on!

In January 2017, I had the opportunity to participate in the Global Sustainability Summit at Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University (a Mecca/Vatican for business students). The summit brought together students from more than 16 countries with guest speakers ranging from journalists and parliamentarians to social activists and business leaders.

For me, one presenter really stood out. Dr. Pawan Agrawal is an international motivational speaker and a self-made man. Dr. Agrawal’s thesis for his PhD degree is titled A Study of Logistics and Supply Chain Management of Dabbawalas in Mumbai.

For those who don’t know, dabbawalas, dressed in white uniforms, provide a lunch box (dabba) delivery-and-return service in the Indian city of Mumbai that delivers home-cooked food from clients’ homes to their offices, and then returns the empty lunch boxes back to clients’ homes.

Dr. Agrawal can best be described as a dabbawala scholar. During his summit session in January, he detailed the operations of the Mumbai dabbawalas, from the number of trains they have to change in a day, to how they code and decode the lunch boxes. It was fascinating to learn about dabbawalas from someone who has closely studied them from a business perspective and now teaches the world about how they operate. I admittedly have not spent a lot of time in Mumbai, but I became fascinated with this simple, yet highly effective business model that originated in my country. I wanted to share what I’ve learned.

Dabbawalas at CST station, a major railway terminus in Mumbai (photo by travelwayoflife, used under CC license)

From 100 to 5,000

Mumbai’s dabbawalas have been operating for more than 125 years. They have perfected their business brand through hard work and commitment. They are ubiquitous. Many people couldn’t imagine the streets of Mumbai without them.

As the story goes, about 125 years ago, a Parsi banker wanted to enjoy home-cooked food in his office and gave this responsibility to the first-ever dabbawala (delivery guy). Many people liked the idea, and the demand for dabba delivery soared. It was all informal and individual effort in the beginning, but visionary Mahadeo Havaji Bachche saw the opportunity and started the lunch delivery service in its current team-delivery format with only 100 dabbawalas. As the city grew, the demand for dabba delivery also grew. Now an army of 5,000 dabbawalas in their signature Gandhi caps serve a clientele of some 200,000 Mumbaikars.

You may be wondering why people can’t carry their own lunch boxes from home. Is India still full of spoiled Maharajas (Indian kings and princes)?

Nope, that’s not the case. During my participation in the Global Young Leaders Academy at Wharton, I learned about the significance of identifying a need, a demand in society that successful entrepreneurs seek to satisfy through their products and services. Dabbawalas meet a great need in Mumbai, and their approach, however simple, is brilliant on many levels. Here’s why:

1. Mumbai local trains, the lifeline of the city, are over-crowded, which makes it difficult for anyone to carry even a lunchbox. Trust me folks, this is not an exaggeration. You can’t board the trains without a struggle when your hands are empty, so carrying a bulky lunchbox while vying for train space is out of the question.

2. Dr. Agrawal explains the second reason as follows: “For a man to reach his office at 9:00 a.m., he has to leave at 6:00 a.m. (because of the long train routes), which means that his wife or mother would have to cook the boxed meal at 5:00 a.m. To avoid this inconvenience, the dabbawalas collect the tiffin [an Indian word for lunch box] at say 9:00 a.m. from the house, deliver it to the office before the lunch hours and then collect the empty lunch boxes to deliver back home.”

3. The third reason this model is especially effective in Mumbai is that home-cooked food is preferred by the masses because of health, emotional and financial reasons. Eating food from restaurants is expensive and street food, though delicious, isn’t considered especially healthy for regular consumption. Also, in my culture home-cooked food is the ultimate way for a wife or mother to express her love and affection for her husband or son. Dabbawalas tap into all these needs and have created an industry that — even after 125 years — has a growth rate of as much as 10% per year.

A Day in the Life of a Dabbawala

You can’t explore the dynamics of this unique business model without considering the logistics. It’s a simple and streamlined distribution system.

The first dabbawala picks up the tiffin from home and takes it to the nearest railway station.

The second dabbawala sorts out the dabbas at the railway station according to destination and puts them in the luggage carriage.

The third one travels with the dabbas to the railway stations nearest to the destinations.

The fourth one picks up dabbas from the railway station and drops them off at the offices.

The dabbawalas rely on low costs to get the job done, using cycles, wooden carriages and local trains and very little technology to meet their daily goals.

Several groups work independently and network with each other to cover service areas.

Of Tiffins and Takeaways

I felt compelled to write about these workers because I was amazed by their level of success and commitment. So many lessons for anyone who wants to make his way in the business world! Here are my top nine:

Passion and Practice. Some 35% of dabbawalas are illiterate, and the average education level of their workforce is 8th grade. Even so, they have created a sound and reliable delivery model that could easily go awry for even the most highly educated worker. Initially, they developed a color-coding system for the lunchboxes, but as the city and the demand for their services grew, this developed into an alpha-numeric system. Many dabbawalas can’t read the alphabet, but can recognize and differentiate the letters and numbers on the basis of their distinct shapes. On average, each dabbawala carries a weight of 130 to 150 pounds. The workforce includes dabbawalas as old as 75 years who take pride in their ability to support themselves with their hard work. “No excuses” is their motto.

Dedication. It took more than 100 years for dabbawalas to get the recognition they deserved. In our success-hungry world where people think of perks before performance, we should learn to uphold the dabbawalas’ high level of service and job performance.

Execution and accuracy. In 1998, Forbes Magazine conducted a quality-assurance study and awarded the Mumbai dabbawalas a Six Sigma efficiency rating of 99.999999! That means they have an error rate of 1 in every 16 million transactions. Mumbai dabbawalas are the second organization in the world and the first in India to earn this distinction. In the words of Dr. Agrawal, for dabbawalas “error is horror.”

Commitment to quality service. Dabbawalas depend on the local train system where they travel in the luggage compartments, but the trains are hardly ever on time. Does that mean the dabbawalas also face delays in their delivery? Never! They have made a commitment to timely delivery, and they make sure they keep their word. Dabbawalas believe that if they miss lunch hours, then clients will go without food. Dr. Agrawal explained that at times housewives pack their husbands’ medicines along with the lunchbox. If the delivery is not on time and something happens, the dabbawalas would feel responsible.

Time management. Dabbawalas believe that since they can’t control the train schedules, they have to follow strict discipline to make timely deliveries. A dabbawala works for eight to nine hours a day, which includes a three-hour period of so-called “war time” in the morning. This is because they have to adhere to the lunch timings of the offices of their clients and make timely deliveries no matter what happens. During their hectic nine-hour workday, dabbawalas only get 20 minutes to eat their lunches while their clients finish their meals.

Strong, experienced leadership. Each area is divided into several small distribution sectors, and each sector is handled by a person known as a mukadam (group leader). The elder-most member of the group gets the job of the mukadam, which comes with no extra pay, but the management of 12 to 14 other dabbawalas and an opportunity to lead the men in white. Many new employees work for months under the guidance of their seniors.

It’s all about work and customer. Dabbawalas charge around $10 per month per customer. They will only charge customers for the months of service, and not if they take a month-long vacation. Since their inception in 1890, the dabbawalas have never had a police case or legal dispute in court. They didn’t go on a workers’ strike until as recently as 2011, and that was for one day to support a movement against corruption and not to make personal demands, which is the case with most labor union strikes. Apart from their salary, dabbawalas expect one month’s salary as an extra ‘Diwali bonus,’ but they will neither complain nor quit their services if their customers deny them the bonus. When Prince Charles visited India in 2003, he wanted to meet the legendary dabbawalas. The dabbawalas agreed, but only if he would meet them between 11:20 a.m and 11:40 a.m. in front of the railway station when they were eating lunch and temporarily free from their duties.

Trust. On payday many clients keep their salaries in their lunch boxes, which are safely delivered home by the dabbawalas, in order to avoid the risk of pickpocketing on local trains. Dabbawalas add value in other ways. In one story I read, a dabbawala recounts this tale of a feuding couple: “The husband left in a rage for the office. I collected the lunchbox from his wife as usual and delivered it to the husband. When the husband opened the box, he found a letter which read, ‘I am sorry. Don’t be angry and please eat your food. I love you.’ Now the husband had turned from one angry young man to one hungry young man. He finished his food and kept two movie tickets in the lunchbox along with a letter that read, ‘I am sorry and I love you too.’ That’s why I believe that we dabbawalas don’t carry just food. At times we also carry love.” Dabbawalas have built brand loyalty and trust in Mumbai society.

Corporate social responsibility. ‘Share My Dabba’ is a dabbawala initiative that gives leftover lunch food to the underprivileged. Clients with little red share stickers on their lunchboxes participate in this community program. Roti Bank is another dabbawala initiative to address food waste at big events like marriages and at restaurants. Dabbawalas collect excess food and make sure it reaches the needy.

I’m excited to have explored the Mumbai dabbawala business model so deeply. Their work ethic and operational efficiency provide timeless lessons for success in business and entrepreneurship. Sometimes the greatest messages of strength, character, quality and perseverance come from the most unlikely places. The men in white are in many ways role models for the next generation of workers.

This article was originally published by Knowledge@Wharton High School. Reproduced here with permission.


For more wisdom from high-school students, click on the links below!
What does it take to be a topper? Q&A with Shivang Singh
ISC topper from Mumbai shares the secret of his success and some advice
Learning to embrace the impractical and think more creatively
Why I worry about President Trump’s exit from the Paris Agreement
Advice from a girl who worked hard and got to choose between an Ivy League offer and a full scholarship
A taste of what it’s like to study at The Wharton School

How Trump’s election has affected my application decision

A Program Close to My Heart

30 Aug

Sofia and Philadelphia: 4805 miles and 7733 km apart, 7 hours’ difference, situated on different continents, an ocean and a few countries in between. The journey I was taking got me thinking: I was for sure out of my comfort zone. This was one of the reasons why I decided to attend the Knowledge@Wharton High School (KWHS) Global Young Leaders Academy at the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition, I wanted to meet new people, to understand what it is to study in an Ivy League school, to gain knowledge in fields that have always interested me, and to go back to the country where I spent my childhood. For 9 years I was torn between two places; although I was physically in Bulgaria, my mind was in the United States, and I often thought about going back to the place that I used to call home.


At the beginning of the program, I felt homesick; I missed Sofia, but after a couple of days something changed in me. My room started radiating the warm feeling that a home does. My roommate no longer felt like an assigned person with whom I had to share a room – she felt like family. The daily walk to the Class of 1920 Commons, where we gathered for breakfast, felt like something I had done all my life. The contagious smile of the woman who took my coupon for breakfast was an essential part of my day. The pancakes/ French toast with bacon and ginger ale not only alleviated my hunger but also provoked in me a familiar feeling of satisfaction. The slogan “Wharton; University of Pennsylvania” in Huntsman Hall triggered in me a feeling of eagerness to enter Classroom G50 and gain knowledge in subjects that I am highly interested in. The evening campus walk with my friends was crucial for my high level of happiness.


All these little details made me feel like I was home. However, I am missing out on something: the warm feeling which I associate with Philadelphia and Penn today is mainly due to the friends I made there. I found friends that are always willing to help me, friends who will always try to make me smile if I am in a bad mood and friends who will always be there for me and will always hear me out.

I believe that the friends I made in the program are for life. Every time I start missing them, I wonder whether one day our paths will cross again. I really hope they do. The daily routine that I mentioned above was what we experienced together and this is why it is so special. One of the reasons why I took this journey was to reunite with the place to which I said goodbye 9 years ago. However, I found a better home and I understood that home is not only a place; it is the people in it and the way they make you feel.


By: Ana-Elena Karlova (17 years old, student at American College of Sofia, Bulgaria)


Click here to find out more about the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Young Leaders Academy!

The Great Wharton Adventure

26 Aug

Wharton Adventure – in our enthusiasm about joining a thrilling summer-camp at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, that was the name my friends and I gave our Whatsapp group. Counting down weeks, then days, then hours, finally we were at JFK Airport, amid lots of apprehensive, bright faces just like us.

Oops! We don’t know eachother here J.

Knowledge@Wharton Session C students gather at JFK airport

As we shook hands with each other, I instantly I felt it, and I’m sure many of my friends did too: we were going to have a rollicking adventure together, the kind of experience that lingers in your mind all your life.

Arriving at Penn, we settled down in our apartments, little knowing this place was going to be our second home. Our walks around the huge campus left us impressed. We chatted along Locust Walk, ate tacos and ice-cream, bought Penn merchandise at the great bookstore, played card games and pool, and formed our new families.

We were very lucky to meet each other: everyone was extremely friendly and kind, which resulted in hours of chatting and laughing every day.

Mr Kerzner’s lessons were very informative and fun at the same time.

In class with Alan Kerzner

Our days at Knowledge@Wharton High School were filled with rewarding lectures that would help us develop our business plans. With Alan Kerzner’s witty humor and his references to his career, we gained valuable insights on how to successfully market a product. Megan De Lena’s lectures strengthened our knowledge of financing and investment.

It was an honor to get such precious lectures from amazing people who are successful professionals in their fields, and I would like to thank them for everything they taught us on our KWHS journey.

This program became an intersection for lots of cultures. My Indian friends told me about their daily lives back home. I also got to learn Canadian vocabulary, Brazilian dances, and how to say my name in Bulgarian. And I taught my friends Turkish.

We got to visit downtown Philadelphia, and see attractions such as the Philadelphia Museum art and the US mint . We watched a fun baseball game. On our Washington, DC trip, we visited the elegant US Capitol, and got a glimpse of the the White House. Our last two days were spent in the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of”, as Alicia Keys sang about New York City. Times Square was fantastic.

So KWHS not only taught us a lot about business and economics, it also made us acquainted with diverse cultures. And we had fun together!

A great picture with great people. Credits to the Photographer Can!

A great picture with great people. Credit to the photographer Can Conger!

Our group’s final business plan was about an electricity-generating bicycle that you can also make fitness adjustments on, with its innovative app. Having learned how a corporation works, we announced our company as Subchapter S, and presented our balance sheet, pricing options and marketing plan.

I can honestly say that this program has taught us about the business world step by step, and gave us the chance to be members of the executive team. As Chief Communications Officer, I talked about the mission of our corporation, “Safe & Swift”. It was a great experience creating our brand, and we all learned a lot, regardless of which team won.

As I said on our last day at Penn, it was very precious to see how we struggled to pronounce each other’s names on the first day, and now it was like we had found our long-lost families. It was great being in this program. I am extremely grateful for all friendships I’ve formed here.

I also want to thank our amazing chaperones Saloni, Amardeep and Rishabh, for always keeping an eye on us and also adding joy to this program.

Besides learning in and outside the classroom, we dabbed and dabbed and dabbed. So if you’re reading this, DAB one last time for Session C of the KWHS Global Young Leaders Academy: it was a great adventure, guys!

We dab everywhere everyday!

We dab everywhere, every day!


By Ezgi Okutan (16 years old, student at Robert College, Istanbul)


Click here to find out more about the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Young Leaders Academy!

Two Unforgettable Weeks at the KWHS Global Young Leaders Academy

13 Jul

It’s not every day that one gets to meet the author of a New York Times bestseller (who also happens to be a Marketing professor at one of the best business schools in the world), attend his obviously incredible lecture, and get a signed copy of his bestselling book!

Sounds unreal, right?


Campus tour of the University of Pennsylvania

Thanks to Knowledge@Wharton at High School and BrainGain Magazine, meeting Professor Jonah Berger, and getting a copy of ‘Contagious’ was just one of the extraordinary things that we, a group of high schoolers, experienced at the KWHS Global Young Leaders Academy.

We all fell in love with the programme from the very first day when, after a particularly long and tiring journey from the airport, we were offered pizzas to help restore our energy. But this programme was so much more than just the delicious food we had every single day (though that was a very important aspect too)!

The classes we had were beyond amazing! Each one, sprinkled with numerous activities and discussions, required us to think on our feet. From Jaime Potter’s lecture on Behavioural Science to Professor Laura Huang’s talk on Entrepreneurship, from Professor Arthur Benedict’s masterclass on Public Speaking and Presentation Skills to Megan De Lena’s workshop on Business and Finance (she even brought candy for us in every class), from Andrea Contigiani’s class on Start Ups to Professor Alan Kerzner’s sessions on Marketing Strategies, from Professors Tyler Wry and Katherine Milkman’s pointers on Unlocking Innovation to Professor Mauro Guillen’s insight into how money works, and finally, Andrew Wakelee’s assistance in helping us build our business plans for the final presentation. It was a remarkable fortnight to put our little grey cells to the best use possible.

The only dissatisfaction we have? We wanted to spend more time with each and every teacher! If it was an hour-long class, we wanted two; instead of a two-hour class, a three-hour one would have been better! What’s more, we even got the opportunity to visit an actual start-up on campus, Weiss Tech House, and see for ourselves how things are run.

A number of group activities were organized, to infuse the spirit of teamwork within us. While the scavenger hunt helped all of us get to know the campus better than probably many students of UPenn itself (Google Maps, without thee we would be so lost!), the Marshmallow Challenge brought out our creative and artistic side.

And just when one thought the entire experience couldn’t get any better, the field and day trips came in! We had a quick Philadelphia city tour and a baseball game on a weekday. Then, the first Saturday was spent in Washington, DC, walking around the Capitol and marveling at the White House. On Sunday we went to Six Flags amusement park, and it was such a fun-filled and exciting day!

The Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and Fifth Avenue were on our itinerary for the next weekend. Yes, we also visited the Big Apple.

Volunteering at Philabundance

Volunteering at Philabundance

Overall, this programme helped us gain a lot of knowledge, made us realize the value of teamwork, and most importantly, taught us to be independent. All in a short span of two weeks! We made some friends whom we will cherish forever and learnt things that will remain with us. To call it an unforgettable experience would be a gross understatement.

Our only complaint? Instead of two, the programme should have been for three weeks!


Diotima Roy
Class 11
DPS, Ruby Park, Kolkata


Click here to find out more about the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Young Leaders Academy!


Word Nerd: Cool Words You Should Know if You’re a Vegetarian in the USA

4 Jul


Today, 4th of July, is USA’s Independence Day. It’s a day which will be celebrated with fireworks, parades and fare sampled outdoors – beer butt chicken, Louisiana crawfish boil, Cajun fries, and the regular hot dogs.  If you’re like me, most of these dishes probably sound as mysterious as they sound tempting.

Except hot dogs, which everyone knows about! But what if you’re vegetarian? Well, then you could go for the not-dogs. Just like hot dogs, they don’t involve dogs either, but unlike hot-dogs, they are vegetarian. Not-dogs or veggie dogs are usually made of tofu, which is a soy protein, and served variously (with sauerkraut or cream cheese), across the country. This is the option I resorted to, while at a baseball game in the USA last month. And so did many of the vegetarians in our group.

During the trip, I came across words which were new – whether food or slang, which piqued my curiosity and helped me to understand the culture better, as well as my relation with it. This was especially true of food, since Indians have so many factors to consider when choosing what to eat. Especially abroad! So, not-dogs came high up on the list (because they’re also not-pork, not-beef, not-chicken, although not so sure about not-egg). Another American savoury that was a delight was kettle chips. Being in Philadelphia, the kettle chips capital of the world, this was hardly a surprise. The difference in kettle chips is their texture – thicker and way crunchier than the all too familiar bag of crisps. Highly recommended. But later, researching my favourite snack, I found that kettle chips are sometimes cooked in lard – that’s pig fat. Naturally, this caused a little concern. So look out for that word in the ingredients list of your pack of fried snacks.

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Chipotle, a Mexican restaurant which has many branches across the USA. The word itself stands for a hot pepper used in Mexican food. Normally, the cuisine offers several options for vegetarians – namely, tacos, burritos, or rice bowls. Chipotle will offer options in white or brown rice, soft shell or hard shell taco, and various kinds of beans. You will also be asked if you want some carnitas or barbacoa in your meal. Say no, if you’re vegetarian. Carnitas is pork cooked in lard while barbacoa is made from beef. To sofritas on the other hand, you can say yes. This is a sauce with peppers, onions and garlic, etc.

But sweets on the other hand should be safe. Yes? Maybe not. On offering a packet of gummy bears to one of the steadfast vegetarians in the group, I was surprised when he turned it around to read the ingredients. “What are you looking for?” I asked. “Gelatin,” was the answer. Gelatin, found in pop tarts, marshmallow, jell-O, Skittles, Starburst, and gummy bears among other things, is a tasteless and odorless substance, which makes things, well, gummy. It is made by boiling the bones, cartilage and skin of animals – basically meat industry leftovers. So, while I don’t know how strongly you feel about your vegetarianism, this has made me balk a bit at the thought of another pack of gummy bears.

So, if you’re out and about in the USA today, or any other day, but face some diet dilemmas, these are some of the words you can add to your nerd repertoire.

Have you any such words to share? Tell us in the comments below.

Day 1 of the Knowledge@Wharton High School summer program

2 Jun

Group of students on UPenn campus for KWHS summer program 2016 Session A

Students tour the University of Pennsylvania campus at the start of Session A of the 2016 summer program of the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Young Leaders Academy

May 29, 2016, 9 a.m. A Sunday and a sunny day. Soft landing. Rapid baggage claim. Great weather outside JFK Airport.

When we left Abu Dhabi airport, we were all excited to see the dual-deck Airbus 380, with its spacious seats and delicious food.  But after the 14-hour flight to New York, everyone was tired.

Pavan Sir and Skendha Ma’am welcomed students who had taken other flights to JFK. After a grand American breakfast at the Central Diner, our group of 15 set out for Philadelphia with Dunkin donuts in hand.

We appreciated the New York City skyscrapers, for they shielded us from the glare of the sun. Cool breeze through the open window filled the bus with zeal and zest. Mr. Jetlag was nowhere to be seen!

After a 3-hour bus ride, it seemed as though Harnwell College House at UPenn had been taken over by the students attending the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Youth Leadership Academy. We got the best welcome.  Cards, codes and keys handed out to all. Off to our rooms. Dump luggage. Rush for the briefing.

The KWHS organising committee kept the session short. Then, finger-licking pizzas in the 9th-floor common room. After that, we were free for the rest of the evening. We were able to step out of the house and go around exploring the campus. The rain would have left us drenched had our Packing List not instructed us to carry umbrellas.

The campus was declared beautiful, stunning and huge!

Curfew time: 10.30 p.m. Students get into their tall and comfortable beds. Alarms set for 6 a.m. the following day. Insomniacs stay awake till 1 a.m. Mr. Jetlag reappears…


By Shivang Singh (Scottish High International School, Gurgaon)


Click here to find out more about the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Young Leaders Academy!

5 Cool Facts about the UPenn Campus

29 Jun

UPenn University of Pennsylvania

#1 Gothic Style
University of Pennsylvania’s gothic architecture was designed by the Cope & Stewardson firm, who combined the architecture of Oxford and Cambridge with the local establishments to create a gothic style that is unique to UPenn.


#2 The Addams Family Connection
The demolished Blanchard Hall was rumored to be the inspiration for the gothic mansion in “The Addams Family”, but Charles Addams, the cartoonist, repeatedly denied it.


#3 Goth Green
The green serpentine stone give the college hall its unique gothic green color, which it’s famous for. The college hall is also the oldest building in West Philadelphia.


#4 The Button
The campus of UPenn has a button which is 16 ft in diameter, weighs 5,000 pounds, and is 4 ft 11 inches high . Created by Claes Oldernberg, the sculpture is in front of the Van Pelt Library. The Split represents the river, Schuylkill. It divides the button into four parts—for William Penn’s original Philadelphia squares.


The Love Statue
A continuation of the iconic “Love” series by sculptor Robert Indiana, it is located on the triangular grounds of 36 Blanche Levy Park and Locust Walk. It was installed in 1998. This iconic sculptor is a bigger version of the original which is at John F. Kennedy Plaza downtown.


Compiled by Jai Dang    

7 Things You Need to Know About High School Summer Programs

20 Jan

What comes to your mind first when you think of high school summer programs? Probably endlessly boring lectures on stuff you hardly care about, bespectacled professors reminding you of what’s coming and how you need to brace yourselves, and you sulking and cursing your fate. Should I start preparing for college before college even starts, you ask. As much as you hate the idea of leaving all the summer fun behind, taking up a high school program this summer might just be the best decision of your life. So, before you leave things at sixes and sevens, here is a list of things you need to know about high school summer programs:


Contrary to popular belief, high school summer programs aren’t military camps camouflaged in rainbows. There is a fair amount of learning involved, but that’s just one facet of it. There is a lot more to these programs than what your friends just told you (so you could go to the beach with them instead). For instance, the 2-week summer program being offered by Knowledge@Wharton High School comprehensively packs academia and amusement. So, picture engaging leadership sessions, guided tours, community service, cultural and social events, people, food, campus life; I suggest you bring your friends along, or leave them green with envy.




My feeling about seeing the world is that it is going to change you necessarily, just the very fact of being out there and meeting people from different cultures and different ways of life.” – Ewan McGregor Not only does travelling open up new worlds, it also makes you more understanding and tolerant towards other cultures and people. If understanding the American culture is what interests you, I suggest you enroll for the summer program being offered by Knowledge@Wharton HS Global young Leaders Academy. With Philadelphia visits and east coast tours lined up for students, this program will ensure you get a chance to experience the American Dream up close and personal.




CC image source: brillianthues


What’s the best part about visiting new countries? Undoubtedly, food. And people too. But most importantly, food. There is a whole new dimension of culinary experience waiting to be explored as you decide to opt for a high school summer program this season. And while you connect with students from different countries and make new friends, drive your taste buds crazy with all the food.



Don’t be alarmed.

Resumes are something that land you jobs, or in your case, your dream college. One mention of the fact that you took a high school summer program (say, from Wharton), and you come out as somebody who is serious about things. Bingo!



Come on, it’s a high school summer program after all. The one Wharton’s offering covers the topic of financial literacy, something that all business school aspirants should know about. It’s not rocket science, folks! So while you are there, exploring the livelier side of the itinerary, give academia a go!


Since you were smart enough to take a high school summer program, you will have experienced the campus life in first person. You, my friend, will now be a league apart. And once you are in college, you no longer have to try extra hard to fit in. You have an edge over all the other freshmen at college. You know exactly how it works and how things roll.



While a high school summer program such as one being offered by Knowledge@Wharton High School, doesn’t guarantee you a seat in an Ivy League school of your choice, it does give you the right kind of experience so you can prepare well for that campus life you always dreamed of. And one fine day, when you stand in the sunny boulevard of your choice alma mater, look back and thank this post for convincing you to take that leap of faith.


*Thank you Tumblr for all the amazing gifs.

Featured Image credits: CC Flickr by Wesley Fryer


What are your plans this summer? If you are in the age group of 15-18, and are considering business studies as your college major, we recommend the Wharton summer program. KWHS Global Young Leaders Academy is a two-week intensive, summer leadership program conducted at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. It is designed for a select group of high school students and combines business studies and hands-on workshops, with organized field trips and socio-cultural activities.

Learn All About KWHS