City Hall on September 29, 2019. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Given the University of Pennsylvania’s fame, I’ve often thought that Philadelphia should be grateful to host the University of Pennsylvania. But now I consider myself lucky that the University of Pennsylvania is in Philadelphia.of

Most college students don’t think much about the city their campus is in, but Philadelphia has left its mark on the University of Pennsylvania and its students. Growing up in Yemen, I was taught that preserving the past is the ultimate goal of education. Educators teach students that innovation (deviation) from tradition is discouraged or prohibited. Thinkers of the past are seen as superior because the quality of their thinking deteriorates over time. The best students of Islamic schools in Yemen adhere to the culmination of tradition and do not deviate from it.

But American innovation is treated as a way forward. It is the litmus test of quality education. There is a lot of pressure for students to innovate and break new ground, but tradition is important in America too. Innovation itself is measured through the lens of the past. For example, Philadelphia reminds students of the importance of history in shaping the present, and the University of Pennsylvania offers students the opportunity to transform the present into a promising future.of

Yet when I entered the University of Pennsylvania as an exchange student from Yemen, I had never heard of Philadelphia. I was simply excited to go to college. Having lived in Philadelphia for the past two years, and even through the pandemic, I fell in love with the city.of

The University of Pennsylvania is an elite school with students from all over the world. What better place for an elite university than in a city shaped by its character and important role in American history? I was. Betsy Ross sewed the American flag in Philadelphia.Both Harvard and Princeton have the Liberty Bell, a symbol of American democracy, and democracy when George Washington handed power over to John Adams. It sits a stone’s throw away from Independence Hall, where the concept of .. passed its first real test.To

Philadelphia has a strong historical presence that is uniquely intertwined with the new. One of America’s oldest markets, Reading Terminal Market shares space with a mini-golf course in Franklin Square. Philadelphia is home to the renowned Franklin Institute and the play-themed Please Touch Museum. Visitors come from all over the world to see Longwood Gardens and Rivers Casino.

Americans these days may take democracy for granted, but as an immigrant to this country, I am aware of the dangers that lurk behind a functioning system. The crack in the U.S. should serve as a stronger warning to American citizens about the dangers this country faces in the months and years to come.of

In Yemen, we are stuck in the old and struggling to move into the 21st century. In America, we look to the future and strive to preserve the best of the past. Students at the University of Pennsylvania will benefit from exploring the history of Philadelphia as they reimagine the future through their studies.of

immigrated to the United States from Yemen to pursue higher education, Abdurrahman Bindamnan graduated from Penn GSE in 2022 with an MSE in International Educational Development. His email his address is: ambin@alumni.upenn.edu.

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