Reflections on Philadelphia

Recently, I attended the National Writing Project (NWP) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in Philadelphia.  We had a number of problems with delayed flights and people missing flights and some other things, but I want to highlight the good parts of the trip here.

First, the conference:  The National Writing Project is cool.  It really is.  It inspires and really gets you focused on how to use writing in the classroom.  However, after one day of sessions there, I found that it began to get repetitive and they focused greatly on politics.  Not my cup of tea.  Unfortunately, I had put all my eggs in the NWP basket and had not registered for the NCTE conference.  I wasn’t sure the two days I might have free were worth the high price of admission.  So, I snuck in.  I flashed the badge from the other conference and crashed a few of the events. They were very good.  So, in the future, I will certainly pay for the NCTE conference.

Second, the city:  Very cool place.  I enjoyed walking all over.  Our hotel was near the Liberty Bell so we walked that area and saw many of the historic landmarks there.  It was also cool because it was paved in cobblestones and had buildings which looked to be several hundred years old.  True or not, it added to the ambiance.  Beyond that, there were several museums that several of my companions enjoyed attending–I wanted to, but just couldn’t find the time during working hours.  I did run over to the “Rocky steps” and climb up.  I recommend doing this because the view from the top is very nice.  That, and so many people go there to run the steps that it is a fun experience.  Public transportation was fine and we mostly had good experiences with taxis.  One group had a driver who appeared to be high on something and drove in a scary fashion, but I never had that experience.  Lastly, I recommend that everyone eat at Geno’s Steaks.  It’s an experience and it’s great food.  Otherwise, all in all, I enjoyed sightseeing in the city.

Third, the people:  I have good and bad about my experiences with the people of Philadelphia.  Some of it is probably my MidWestern hangups with my own concepts of courtesy.  I was struck by how rude I found people.  No one said “excuse me” if they bumped into me.  People did not hold an elevator if I hurried to the door.  There was no one holding a door to a building open in a gentlemanly fashion.  This struck me as rude and self-centered.  However, whenever we stopped and asked strangers for directions or information about something, we were always helped.  That was both surprising and refreshing.

Fourth, the neighbor:  So, I went across the bridge to New Jersey.  Camden, to be specific.  I went to the Aquarium.  Very cool.  I walked past the Walt Whitman house.  Then, we moved quickly.  It was a terrible area.  We stood out as a minority (the only white people) and it was a intimidating area in town.  Broken glass, shouting people on the streets, and cops yelling at crowds with megaphones.  Ack! Luckily, we found a cab and got out of there quickly.  I do not recommend going here.

All in all, I enjoyed going to Philadelphia and would go again.  However, the one thing I noticed when I returned home was how sweet the air was at home.  Apparently, the smog has tainted the air there.  I didn’t notice it until I returned home, though.

I am the language lover and these are my thoughts.

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2 Comments

  1. Josh said,

    December 7, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    As a traveler, I have had similar experiences with people. One time I went to Quebec City, and I thought many there were sort of rude. No one held doors open for others and at one point, I think someone was actually racewalking me to the entrance of a store!!! However, one woman, who yelled at our group for some reason (I don’t know, maybe we accidentally cut in front of her in a line at some restaurant) actually apologized when she realized the whole incident was an honest mistake. That was very nice.

    When I traveled to Tennessee, the people there were the exact opposite. EVERYONE was extremely kind, polite, and patient. I don’t mean to sound harsh toward the folks in Quebec City, however. I’m sure the vast majority of folks up there are great. Maybe I’m just not a city person.

  2. Scott Erb said,

    December 9, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Philly is a fun city to visit. The only big city I’ve been to that compares with smaller rural areas for friendliness and politeness is Minneapolis-St. Paul.


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