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Temple Tour Guides Give Unique Insight Into Their Urban Nest March 29, 2011

Posted by Matt Wargo in Haphazard Happenings.
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Once again, the Owl Ambassadors, Temple University’s flock of student tour guides, were featured in The Temple News for their role in the university’s recruitment efforts. This time, the story focused on giving readers a glimpse into the world of unknown, or forgotten, Temple trivia.

Yours truly was interviewed for the piece; I offered up some of the university’s most interesting details. Enjoy!


Sophomore Owl Ambassador David Lopez speaks with guests at Alumni Circle. Courtesy of The Temple News.

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.”

Published in the March 29, 2011 issue of The Temple News. Credit: Haley Kmetz


Owls On The Town In Old City March 20, 2011

Posted by Matt Wargo in Travel and Explore.
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Fellow Owls and Friends (L-R) Aaron, Vinnie, and Matt share a cheers at Bridget Foy's.

The Owls joined together for a night on the town and for some good eats over the weekend!

Saturday evening a group of Owl Ambassadors celebrated a colleague’s birthday and fun-filled semester at one of Old City’s dining hot spots, Bridget Foy’s, 200 South St, Philadelphia.

Global Disasters Provide An Eerie Supplement To College Geology Course March 14, 2011

Posted by Matt Wargo in Haphazard Happenings.
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The recent disasters in Japan and New Zealand have provided an unforeseen supplement to one of Temple University’s General Education courses, Diasters: Geology vs. Hollywood.

Throughout the past eight weeks, the course has explained geologic phenomenons like techtonic plates, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

The coursework usually involves watching a playlist full of geologically-themed YouTube videos, but the recent events have slightly altered our viewings from humorous earthquake clips to serious news footage.

Our professor started teaching about earthquakes just as the first earthquake rocked Christchurch in New Zealand. This tragedy enabled us to explore the inner workings on what happens before, during, and after an earthquake occurs.

Just after the 6.3 quake shook the Southwestern Pacific nation, we began discussing hazards associated with earthquakes. Oddly enough, in many cases the actual earthquake does not kill people, it’s the ensuing tsunamis, fires, or structure collapses that may take hundreds and thousands of lives.

When reports of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan surfaced on morning television, I was immediately interested in what was happening. All of a sudden, geologists were discussing the plate movements, boundaries, potential hazards, and so on, and it was making sense to me because of what we had learned in the Disasters course.

When journalists started discussing the potential for an earthquake of Japan’s magnitude to occur in California, I understood the reasons this would not be possible. Japan is located near a subduction zone, while the San Andreas fault in California is a transform fault, where two plates move in opposite directions of one and other, which greatly reduces the level of earthquake that might occur at that plate boundary.

Many have called the disaster in Japan the most well-documented natural disaster ever. This extended coverage is allowing students, like myself, to learn and better explore the world of natural disasters.


Holding Up ‘The Town’ – Spring Break Screenings March 10, 2011

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Ben Affleck’s ‘The Town’ is an action packed crime thriller set in the historic Massachusetts town of Cambridge, an area historically ridden with an alarming number of bank robberies. (Think along the lines of ‘The Departed’; this one has just as many F-bombs, must be a Beantown thing.)

Affleck plays Doug MacRay, a longtime crook who falls for the bank manager, played by Rebecca Hall, he robbed in one of his gang’s jobs.

From there it’s a typically bad guy falls for good girl story with plenty of high-action robberies throughout the film.

‘Mad Men’ star, Jon Hamm, plays the role of a FBI Agent determined to take down MacRay and his three partners-in-crime.

‘The Town’ ends in true Boston style with a high-stakes job at Fenway Park.

Affleck directed and produced ‘The Town, an adaption of the 2005 novel Prince of Thieves, by Chuck Hogan.

The film scored a 94 percent on Rotten Tomato’s TomatoMeter, a website that combines dozens of reviews from the industry’s top critics to determine the film’s “fresh” or “rotten” status.

Over the past week, I’ve been catching up, or freshening up, on all the movies creating buzz in the entertainment industry, particularly the hottest Oscar Nominated films, in a series of posts called, “Spring Break Screenings.”

‘The King’s Speech’ Takes the Crown – Spring Break Screenings March 6, 2011

Posted by Matt Wargo in Haphazard Happenings.
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“I’m not here to discuss personal matters.”

“Then, why are you here?”

“Because I bloody well stammer!”

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush transport viewers back to the coronation of King George VI in “The King’s Speech,” a time period drama based on a true-story about a king who struggles to overcome a lifelong stutter.

Firth portrays the Duke of York, prior to his coronation as King George VI, who is introduced to Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech-therapist determined to help the new king.

As England heads towards the brink of war, Firth is crowned king, following the death of his father, King George V and his brother’s, King Edward VIII, scandalous abdication.

Firth’s character forges a bond with Logue and delivers an inspirational radio-address that inspires his people.

David Seidler, the film’s screenplay writer, was determined to provide the most historically accurate depiction possible in the film. Nine weeks before filming began, the production team was able to uncover a diary containing Logue’s original notes on his treatments for the duke, which were reworked into the film, according to the BBC. Some of the lines in the film were exact quotes from the Logue’s diary.

“The King’s Speech” ruled the Academy Awards with 12 Oscar Nominations; the film won Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director.

One important note, the movie is almost 100 percent dialogue, which can make it difficult to follow in the theater. If you failed to enjoy the film the first time around, be sure to make time to enjoy it again; you will not be disappointed.

Fun note for Harry Potter fans: Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Wormtail (Timothy Spall) both appear in “The King’s Speech;” Gambon plays King George V and Spall portrays Winston Churchill.

Over the next week, I’ll be catching up, or freshening up, on all the movies creating buzz in the entertainment industry, particularly the hottest Oscar Nominated films, in a series of posts called, “Spring Break Screenings.”