Friday, September 07, 2007

The Mississippi Project

I'll have more to say about The Mississippi Project in a later posting. Meantime, here's a passage from this year's convocation speech given to Penn's new freshman class by university president Amy Gutmann just a few nights ago:

If the first unwritten rule governing success at Penn is to open your mind to new ideas and friendships, then the second Penn rule is to aim high. The more unconventional, the better.

Consider Gabe Crane, a rising College senior whose passion for writing and canoeing led him to conceive a daring adventure: He and three of his pals would paddle canoes down the entire 2,000 miles of the Mississippi River. Then he’d write about the experience afterward.

Penn English Professor Al Filreis encouraged Gabe to be even bolder. Why not create a live blog called the “Mississippi Project” and make the adventure come alive in words, pictures, and conversation?

With tech support from Kelly Writers House and financial support from the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, Gabe created a multi-media literary journal that transformed his adventure into – in his words --- “a meditation on the state of our generation, coming now finally of age … and a meditation on the state of our country.”

Because Gabe aimed high, he has the beginnings of an original book and the makings of a successful literary career.

Penn can make the biggest difference in your lives when keep your mind open to challenging new ideas and friendships, and aim high.