Students should take advantage of the PEX passports and explore Philadelphia before their Temple experience ends.
Temple’s location in Philadelphia is the university’s greatest asset. The city’s rich history provides inspiration for students to explore beyond their academics and fulfill once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
The Philadelphia Experience passports debuted last year, with the intent to benefit all members of the student body with free or reduced-price access to many arts and culture destinations.
Former General Education Director Terry Halbert and current Associate Director Julie Phillips, as well as a team of Temple professors, developed the PEX passports. Their goal was to incorporate experiential components of the classroom into Philadelphia.
“A lot of people come to Temple for the city and its resources,” Phillips said.
The gen-ed curriculum is working to enhance student knowledge and appreciation of the city’s cultural and historical hotspots, such as the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden along the Schuylkill River, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Center City and Franklin Court near Old City – Phillips’ three favorites.
Rand Williamson, a senior neuroscience major, uses the PEX passport to attend musical events and the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a reduced price in his free time. It provides the ability to “enrich people’s understanding of urban nature and culture,” he said.
Although Williamson said he gets his fair share of cultural opportunities from the PEX passport, he still has many friends in their first year who “don’t leave campus much.”
“Students on campus who originate from the suburbs tend to stay on campus more,” he added.
Phillips said she thinks students who stay on campus are “scared, reluctant or too busy,” to engage outside their comfort zones.
Nandi Afiba, a freshman education major, said she has not left Main Campus much since classes began, but she believes that “students should learn about where they’re living.”
A general lack of interest, motivation and money tend to keep students from venturing off campus.
Although the university is located in Philadelphia, Temple students – especially underclassmen – often stay in the “Temple bubble” and in the long run, negatively affect their out-of-the-classroom college experiences.
I came to Temple, from a small town outside Harrisburg, with high hopes to explore this historical city. I have gained a lot in my excursions off campus: both in academics during my gen-ed classes and in my free time, with the guidance of the PEX passport.
I admit, when I first came to Temple, it was difficult to explore a city I was never exposed to before. I never even rode a subway car until my freshman orientation.
The importance of the PEX passport intertwined with all my gen-ed classes pushed me to branch out of my comfort zone. Even though it seemed to be a hassle at times, my ventures to some of Philadelphia’s most historic places, including Laurel Hill Cemetery and the Library Company of Philadelphia in Center City, turned out to be the most rewarding experiences of my freshman year.
Although new students may be intimidated, getting off campus and into the city will make a college experience worthwhile. With the PEX passport, students have Philadelphia at their “phingertips.”
Lauren Hertzler can be reached at email@example.com.