My Experience in the Tri-Co Philly Program

As I entered my sophomore year at Bryn Mawr, I was looking for new opportunities to make the most of my college experience. I wasn’t planning on going abroad, so I wanted to find something that would get me out of the Bryn Mawr Bubble and into the real world. When I saw that the Tri-College consortium (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges) were launching a new, Philadelphia-based program of study, I jumped at the chance to get off campus—and hopefully a bit more out of my shell.


At the beginning of this Spring Semester, the pilot version of the program began with around twenty students from Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore. We would be taking two Bryn Mawr/Haverford-listed classes two days a week at the Friends Center in Philadelphia (our transportation would be paid for), which would emphasize field trips and engagements with the city and its inhabitants. Outside of our classes, we would be getting together as a group a few times a month to go on more trips in and around Philadelphia.


Since this was the first time the program was run, we definitely encountered our fair share of problems working around the schedules of busy college students and engaging with Philadelphia’s history in an intersectional way. (From my understanding of next year’s program, these problems are being worked out.)

Still, I really enjoyed my time out and about in Philly. The program funded trips to City Hall, Reading Terminal Market, Mother Bethel AME Church, The Eastern State Penitentiary, the African American Museum, Fairmount Park Greenhouse, Franklin Fountain, and Independence Park. We were able to meet Philadelphia figures such as Lorene Cary, former mayor Michael Nutter, Rick Nichols, and Harris Steinberg. We also had great conversations with Nicole S. Junior, Nuala Cabral, and Philly rapper and stylist Lady Canon.

Aside from the field trips, one of the best parts of the program was getting to know more students from Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swat. The train rides, tours, and ups and downs of our classes helped build camaraderie among all of us. It feels good to know some more friendly faces in the Tri-Co!  

Personally, I feel a lot more knowledgeable about navigating Philly public transport. One day, I actually rode all forms of SEPTA: the Regional Rail, bus, subway, and trolley. While I still haven’t gotten out into as many of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods as I wanted, the Tri-Co program definitely was a great introduction to the City of Brotherly Love. I can’t wait to explore everything that Philly has to offer in my remaining years at Bryn Mawr!