Chi-Urban Excursion

A Historic Day In Spokane

March 13, 2014 · No Comments

We seem to be having some technical struggles here at the Boulevard. The lights and circuits on our side of the basement seem to have gone out and the circuit breaker is locked. This means that the space heater is off. This is specifically relevant because today marks a historic day in Chicago’s history; it started snowing again last night and early this morning and with that snow we have set a record for the most snow in one winter in Chicago. Over 76 inches! Long story short, it’s pretty cold here in the basement.

Anyways, on to the activities of the day! I was excited to be blogging today since we were going to the LGBTQ center in Chicago. Center on Halsted was established in 1973 as a safe haven for not only LGBTQ but all people in Chicago that just needed a place to call their own. Although the center has so many amazing services they supply to the community the ones that stood out to me were the free HIV testing services. They really care about developing each person that walks through their doors and taking care of the person mind, body and soul. Another amazing quality of the center is that they are working towards peace of mind for every person who walks through their door. They label their bathrooms male identified, female identified and have neutral restrooms for people who do not identify with the gender binary. It really is an amazing organization who does so much for the community.
After our tour of the facility we had an educational discussion led by David Zak, a longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights. What I enjoyed most about this portion of the day was that he didn’t just speak to us and tell us things we may or may not have previously known. Instead he facilitated a discussion within the group and got even the quietest people to speak up about their opinions on LGBTQ rights and the experiences we’ve all had with that community. These conversations and safe environments are what bring people together. It was also the last activity we participated in with our PIT counterparts. It was a great way to end our journey’s here together, I already miss having them around.
Next up was our South Side tour. We only covered about a 7×7 square mile radius of the south side which doesn’t even begin to cover it. This amazed me because this is about the same size of San Francisco, which is the area I am from. It is amazing to see the difference between these two cities and it gave me a little of a perspective on how big Chicago really is. We went by the White Sox stadium which, being the sports fan I am, was highly enjoyable. However the part of this trip that shocked me most was the neighborhood right next to the stadium. Bridgeport neighborhood is a primarily Irish Catholic, wealthy neighborhood. Apparently African Americans are not welcome in this neighborhood. Families who have tried to settle here have been forced out. This whole week thus far we’ve been traveling through neighborhoods of specific communities: China Town, Pilsen. As diverse as Chicago is, it is hyper-segregated. Each group has their own part of the city and most of these neighborhoods seem to be struggling. It made me miss home; where it is not frowned upon by a community to be interracial or bisexual, you can just be you.
As much as I have enjoyed these educational parts of the trips and the discoveries made on them, what I love most about this trip is bonding with the people. So far I have gotten to know people of this trip on a whole new level. During free time today while most people went up in the Sears Tower, Elena and I got tea and made wonderful conversation. These are the moments in life I crave, these are the times I feel most alive and most blessed.
Free time wasn’t all fun and games however; very long story very short paying the bill at dinner tonight was one of the biggest struggles we have had on this trip up to date. Things I learned: never try to split one check between a card and cash, don’t ask for a box unless you’ve completely finished eating, and someone else will figure out the bill and no matter how many times you calculate it and argue over how to pay, you will be wrong and still owe $10 more. Good thing we have all the math oriented people to figure that out so I can sit back and watch some hockey in peace.
So yes, today was a historic day in Chicago: I got to bond with an amazing group of individuals, it snowed, and the power in the basement is still not working. Quick shout out to my roommate Erika and my Goddaughter Mikaelyn whose birthdays are today, also making it a historic day. Love you both. Now I’m off to more group bonding, with a heavy heart that our time here is almost done but excited that next things lay right around the corner.
Jacquelyn Urbina


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