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Ann SIlverman

Retiring Professor Leaves a Legacy Through Her Students

Associate professor of English Ann Silverman is saying goodbye to the College this year, but not before leaving it with a remarkable legacy.

This past fall, she instructed and led 17 advanced English as a Second Language students in a multimedia project designed to engage the students, as well as the broader community, in learning activities. Each of her students received a camera to take photos of his or her neighborhood, and then narrated brief videos that provide a glimpse of the life and culture in these neighborhoods.

“They had to write about these photographs, and then practice narrating them. They learned about the city,” Silverman said.

On the video the students described neighborhood locations, the architecture of buildings and offered historical facts about sites shown in the photos. Arnold DiBlasi, associate professor and head of academic computing, assisted by turning the video snippets into a 33-minute documentary called “Settling In.”

Silverman’s students had immigrated from Armenia, China, Columbia, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Pakistan, Vietnam, Venezuela, India, Ivory Coast and Morocco. They, and their families, settled in various sections of the city, including Holmesburg, North Philadelphia, and South Philadelphia.

Aurora Deshauteurs, curator of the Print and Picture Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia, collaborated with Silverman on the initiative and visited the class during the year to offer pointers on using photos to document history. The class also visited her department at the Central Library to look at archival photos of city neighborhoods.

Silverman was among 27 retiring faculty and staff members who were honored during the annual retirement celebration on April 17 in the Sandra E. Klein Cube. A celebratory dinner was held later that evening at R2L, a restaurant on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place. The retirees’ years of service ranged from 10 to 47. This year’s group included Thomas Hawk, Ph.D., former vice president for Finance and Planning, and treasurer; and Jane Grosset, director of Institutional Research.

Silverman said she plans to trade the lectern for a classroom desk during retirement. “I plan to finish learning Chinese,” she said.

She also plans to volunteer at the Free Library of Philadelphia.