featuring my Fulbright-winning student and CityStep in today's Inquirer

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Leah Apple once sat in my memoir classroom at Penn beguiling us (beguiling me) with beloved New Yorker excerpts and her own languid, slyly self-revealing sentences: But a childhood of moving across the country from day school to day school had disillusioned me: the concept of a best girl friend was something that transcended my realm of possibility, and that I feared would always elude me. She was a world traveler, a hip hop dancer, a young woman who, in so many ways, transcended, a sophomore who that summer would go to teach in Santa Fe, and when Leah won the Fulbright earlier this year I got that happy feeling teachers get when one of their own is recognized for who they are.
In addition to all Leah has achieved academically, she co-executive directs CityStep, a student-run program designed to bring dance, mentorship, and opportunity to the young of West Philadelphia. Recently, over Kiwi yogurt, I had a chance to talk to Leah and her co executive director, Philene, about this program that has, in Leah's words, "saved her life at Penn." A few days later, after my own memoir class had ended for the year, I joined some of the students as they rehearsed for this weekend's show. 
These are the photographs.
This is the story. 
This is my privilege at Penn.
"CityStep Presents: Intramural" performs Sunday at 3 PM at the Iron Gate Theater, 3700 Chestnut Street. If you see Leah while you are there, give her a hug for me. Tell her how proud I am.


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