Always Sunny in Philadelphia

By: Paige Holmes

Hello wonderful people!

Contrary to the title, it isn’t always sunny in Philadelphia, because since I’ve been here there’s been lots of clouds and sweet smells and sounds of rain. But I’m guessing that the TV show refers to the sunny-like culture and aura of the city people and vibe.

So, here I am in Philadelphia, living in the International House (on the 13th floor whaaat?!), and interning at UPenn’s Positive Psychology Center! Today was my third day on the job. The first day mostly entailed setting and organizing the projects and the people I will be helping out with. I’m working with Margaret (Peggy) Kern and Marie Foregeard on a couple of their research projects, and I will possibly be working with Lisa Bucksbaum on the Soaringwords Project, which is where psychology researchers go in to many different hospitals and interview kids ages 6-18; the researchers interview them with a survey that measures their well-being and then present them with a drawing of “Super Monkey,” telling them that another hospitalized child had drawn it for them. Then the researchers ask if they want to draw something for another child. I believe the main idea of the project is to look at how creativity and benevolence affect well-being. Hopefully, I will get to help Lisa go into the hospitals and interview the kids, which would be faaantastic because I love to work with kids and that would be right down my alley exploring well-being and how to increase it in so many different ways and contexts.

Friday, I helped Peggy enter data and look through the Soaringwords surveys and drawings. It wasn’t necessarily the most fun task (I prefer to work face-to-face with people, especially loving on them…), but I actually ended up liking it a lot. Some of the drawings, responses, and words underneath the drawings were so heartfelt and deep—I was touched and amazed. Although I’m still not sure if I will end up doing research, I was so happy to be helping out with the important steps to improving the lives and well-being of people around the world, starting with Super Monkey.

Also on Friday I helped out Marie and her coworker Anne on their project assessing well-being in the workplace. I read through interviews of the participants where the researchers asked them many questions about their job, why they do it, and how it affects their lives. This is the qualitative part of the project, and I very much enjoyed reading the stories of these people and how they live their lives.

Lastly, I took a tour of UPenn…and had to take the obligatory photos next to the famous public art displays. It was so, so much fun, and here is some of the photoshoot:


(got to pose with this handsome fellow by the giant button statue)