We often hear stories of our alumni finding one another in various places. Anything from a story shared at a party to a TASIS t-shirt worn at a gym can spark fond memories. We love hearing these stories and will be sharing several of them in the upcoming edition of TASIS Today. For now we offer a look at an emerging friendship between Caroline Rothstein ’01 and 2018 Valedictorian Shu Ye, who both took the time to reflect on their lovely camaraderie.
You met as a student and an alumna of Penn. What happened to encourage this connection?
Caroline: In a 2018 issue of TASIS Today, I read that the valedictorian, Shu Ye ’18, was heading to the University of Pennsylvania! I reached out to Yvonne in the Alumni Office and offered to be a resource and support to Shu during her matriculation to Penn. Shu reached out over email, and we began a correspondence as she settled in to her first semester. Shortly thereafter, we met in person when I was on campus that fall.
Shu: Caroline happened to see an article in the TASIS alumni magazine, and she reached out. We met in person during Homecoming at Penn.
What did you talk about during your first meeting?
Caroline: We talked about our love for our respective experiences at TASIS and her experience at Penn thus far. I also shared what my time at Penn was like. I reminded Shu that everyone can have a challenging time when they first get to college, so I encouraged her to get involved with classes, people, and activities that really inspire her, which she was already doing with flying colors!
Shu: In our first meeting, I talked about the classes I was taking, the clubs and organizations I was involved in, and my social life. Caroline shared her experiences at Penn, and we also talked about TASIS. I remember Caroline told me she wanted me to know that I might feel lost and lonely in this new environment, but she could be the one to support me since she has the same background as I do and understands what I am going through. I felt so beloved by her words.
Did you find that despite the age gap, you had shared experiences during your TASIS years?
Caroline: I think the world has changed a lot already in the near two decades since I left TASIS, but the richness of culture and community—the international student body and faculty, the emphasis on the arts and travel—seems to be timeless. For me, arriving at Penn with that global perspective, having grown up in the United States, informed my college experience in a profound way. I hope that can also happen for Shu.
Shu: To be honest, we found TASIS quite different from 2001 to 2018. While we still go downtown, most places are different. We both liked the cultural activities at TASIS, especially Academic Travel. I was surprised that back in Caroline’s time, students had even more time and opportunities to travel. We also found that TASIS has always had an artistic component. She talked about how much people liked music back then, and I know TASIS still pays a lot of attention to music and all areas of the arts.
How has this connection made an impact on your life?
Caroline: It is an ongoing reminder that shared experiences of place can help us form intergenerational relationships and bonds that transcend time and help us to sustain and maintain the powerful experiences we have in our lives. I value intergenerational connections implicitly, and Shu is the first TASIS alum with whom I've been able to build a relationship and connection that I didn't actually know from while attending TASIS. It is a real gift, especially since we now have Penn to share as well!
Shu: Like I mentioned earlier, I felt very beloved after talking to Caroline. I was struggling with Penn’s pre-professional atmosphere, and Caroline understood my concerns and encouraged me to keep doing what I really want. Also, it’s just great to know someone else from TASIS who also went to Penn and talk about our happy old times in high school.