Tours at Temple provide opportunities for Owl ambassadors.
Seeing students wearing cherry windbreakers while walking backward through Temple, followed by a group of weary-eyed high school students and parents is a familiar scene on Main Campus.
Tours and tour guides may seem ubiquitous on Main Campus, but the information that can be gleaned from a tour is anything but banal. It is information many students have forgotten since their own tour or never learned in the first place.
Alyssa Gunderman, a junior music therapy and voice major, has been a tour guide for a year and a half, and was shocked at the knowledge she gained about Temple during her tour guide training.
“There is so much stuff that when you are re-learning the facts you are like, ‘No way,’” Gunderman said. “But now it’s engrained.”
All tours include a standard set of facts: the Bell Tower chimes every 15 minutes, there are 3 million books in the Samuel L. Paley Library and the campus is 90 percent wireless with the exclusion of the residence halls. But each tour guide likes to toss a few original facts into their script.
“The business school has these flags hanging in the atrium, and they represent the member nations of the United Nations, but the really fun fact is that they were actually all hand painted by Disney artists,” said Matt Wargo, a junior broadcast journalism major. “This is my favorite fact I give on tours.”
Wargo started giving tours in the spring semester of his freshman year and said he continues to learn new facts about Temple.
“I didn’t know until recently that the library spends about $10 million a year to compile all the research databases,” Wargo said.
Gunderman pointed to Temple’s personal movie theater, the Reel, as one of Main Campus’ hidden gems.
“I don’t know if a lot of people know about that and the general area of the Student Center,” Gunderman said “It’s not just a dining hall.”
Tours of Main Campus are a great source of information about Temple’s campus. However, one fact that is mentioned has caused students some confusion.
As tour groups pass the Graphics Media Center across from the bookstore, it is mentioned that life-sized cardboard cut outs of any picture can be made at this location.
But the Graphics Media Center employees explained this is not true. GMC employees laughed as they recalled that several students have come in and inquired about the life-size photo options they learned about on tours and, unfortunately, must be turned away. The largest option available at the GMC is a 30-foot by 40-foot sheet, which is typically used for promotional signs displayed in the Student Center Atrium.
Sometimes, questions asked on tours lead to comical situations. Wargo mentioned that things get “really funny inside the residence halls.” He explained students frequently inquire about having guests stay for the weekend.
“They say it with the tone that you know it’s a girlfriend or a boyfriend,” Wargo said. “And the parents kind of turn red.”
Although questions can sometimes cause embarrassment, Wargo encourages prospective students to ask them.
“A lot of people are nervous to ask questions,” Wargo said. “It’s a really simple question, most times.”
Kieran Ferris said he felt that most of his questions were answered on his tour. Ferris, a prospective student hoping to study jazz music and music composition, expressed his amazement with the amount of choices at the cereal bar in the Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria. When asked about the most impressive place seen on the tour, his immediate answer was the TECH Center.
“When [prospective students] see how many computers we have, they’re like ‘Whoa, this is awesome,’” Gunderman said. “The TECH Center certainly does emanate a certain impressive quality to visiting students, but some of its resources remain a mystery to Temple students.”
“I think something they don’t know is the amount of programs that we have,” Wargo said. “There are about 125 software programs. As a student, I typically log in to Microsoft Office, and that’s about it. But there is so much more that you can take advantage of there.”
Laura Gabel, a freshman advertising major, had never noticed the digital screen in the TECH Center that indicates open computers with little green dots.
“Now that I have seen the screen at the TECH Center, I’ll probably look to it during busy periods to find a computer,” Gabel said. “It’s a really great feature to have.”
Meghan Daly is a retired Owl ambassador, who now works in Boston as a media specialist at a public relations firm. Her most memorable tour came when she showed a 1957 alumni group the new campus. “It was absolutely amazing to hear how different the campus was then, compared to its size now,” Daly said. “The members of the tour could hardly believe their eyes when they saw the TECH Center.”
Daly attributed some of her success to her training as a tour guide.
“I was a tour guide throughout my four years at Temple, and my experience definitely strengthened my speaking and communication skills,” Daly said. “My speaking to a crowd on tours and answering random questions, that experience definitely contributed to my success in public relations.”
Haley Kmetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.