‘Exploring Extracurriculars’

Students gather around a chessboard at an outdoor extracurricular fair.
Penn Chess club set up game boards to play with students during the Fall Student Activities Fair on Locust Walk and College Green Tuesday afternoon, the first day of the three-day event, held for the first time in person and online. Club member William Li (seated), a junior in Penn Engineering plays with Ivy Deng, a sophomore in the Wharton School, while junior Daniel Sun (standing right) and senior Michael Maxwell (standing left), both in the College of Arts and Sciences, watch the progress. (Photo: Eric Sucar)

Throughout the afternoon on the first day of Penn’s annual Fall Student Activities Fair, a crowd surrounded the Penn Chess table as students took turns playing the game with club members, who simultaneously answered questions and encouraged sign-ups.

The club was one of 453 student organizations that registered to have a table on Locust Walk and College Green during the three-day fair, designed to introduce students to extracurricular activities and to facilitate membership sign-ups, says senior Tess Christensen, vice chair of the Student Activities Council, which organizes the event.

Two students shaking hands.
The African Students Association had several members engaging with students at its activities fair table, including senior Ralph Tamakloe (center) of Penn Engineering. (Photo: Eric Sucar)

This year was the first that the fair was held both in-person and online and that the in-person event was held over three days, she says. Because of the pandemic, the fair was held only online last year, through the then-new Penn Clubs platform, built by students who are themselves part of an extracurricular club, Penn Labs.

“Penn Labs has done a fantastic job adapting Penn Clubs to host the club fair virtually this past year,” says Christiansen, from Pittsburgh, a linguistics and cognitive science major in the College of Arts and Sciences. “However, there’s something about the in-person club fair that truly cannot be recreated virtually. There’s something about wandering down Locust and being surrounded by hundreds of students all eager to share with you what they’re passionate about. It has a certain energy that you really need to be there to feel.”

Two students watch a presentation on a laptop.
Paula Bargallo Gonzalez-Lugo (left) and Jazmyn James, both freshmen in Penn Engineering, walked around the Student Activities Fair together. They stopped at the table for the Social Deduction Club, which hosts events like murder mystery nights and escape room outings, and got some information from College sophomore Bhrajit Thakur. (Photo: Eric Sucar)

The groups included, among others, arts and performance, cultural and international, sports and recreation, business and pre-professional, community and public service, political and advocacy, religious and spiritual, media and publication, Greek life, and student governance.

Mamta Motwani Accapadi, vice provost for university life, went table to table during the afternoon, stopping to speak with students. She even joined in a dance with Penn Raas, a group that performs traditional dances from India. “The student activities fair is so deeply important because it is a representation of the many ways Penn students can find their community, explore their interests, and pursue their passions,” Accapadi says. “It was especially heartwarming to see our students connecting with one another today.”

Continue reading at Penn Today.