Chi-Urban Excursion

Culture Heard & Seen

March 12, 2014 · Comments Off on Culture Heard & Seen

Today we went out to go visit the part of the city called Pilsen. This part of the city has a huge Mexican community, which we got to see some of the artwork done by Jose Guerroero. We arrived at his studio where he got to show us his prints as well as many other artist prints that he had in his collection. They were first made from a tablet, which then allowed the artist to make many other copies if they so chose to, but theses prints had many different themes to them like immigration, struggle, and many others. After we saw the prints we got a tour of different murals on the walls, which really showed us how the people lived in Pilsen. They had many murals of all different sorts from superheroes, progressing in life and we even got to see the murals in the church which represented how religion played a big part in the community. We also got to see the National Museum of Mexican Art, which had many different portraits as well as different prints. These demonstrated a lot of the Chicano way of life, which is the Mexican America life style; they were displayed through many different types of portraits. From there we got eat the restaurant at Nuevo Leon which is one of the most popular Mexican restaurant in Pilsen. The food was amazing there and I was glad that I got to try as much authentic Mexican food there. Despite being full after lunch we also bought Churros from a guy that was selling them on the street, they were delicious. In keeping with the theme of food we went to go see the Growing Home Wood St. Urban Farm, which is a farm in Chicago for food deserts. A food deserts is an area where there is no grocery store for people in a neighborhood to walk to and get their foods. Which this farm is also a program that helps many people that lost their job or cant get a job ,by teaching them how to work in the workforce. This program is an ongoing program that well be increasing as the time comes. With that we got to have a little time on our own which allow all of us to go out and visit downtown for a bit. On the way there we got off on the wrong stop so we had to walk a while to get to the train station. When we finally made it to the train station and made it downtown we went to the Hancock Center, which was huge skyscraper that had an amazing view for the city. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay up long because the lounge was for people over 21 so we couldn’t get the chance to see the whole city. After that disappointment we got to go and shop for awhile downtown and for dinner some of us got to go try out our first Chicago dog. We had to go back to the Boulevard because we were going to the L.Y.R.I.C open mic. This was an event that happens every Tuesday which allows youth to come up and perform their different creative piece. This open mic was super crazy and fun the people there had really great poetry, raps, dancing and singing. The group was for youth to help them learn how to speak out and be creative. One could sense the strong community that they had there and kids to even grandmothers were performing and having a great time there. This event was a great event to end of the night with.

Justin Chan

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Good Weather: Better Experiences

March 11, 2014 · Comments Off on Good Weather: Better Experiences

Whenever I go on a trip I love finding a coffee shop, not for the coffee, but for the green tea.  This morning in Chicago it just so happened to be called Bridgeport.  It was a beautiful walk to this little place.  The sun was out, there was a slight breeze, and the buses were going, apparently this is not typical for the Chicago this time of year.  Once Maria and I returned to the Boulevard we had a nice breakfast.  After breakfast we had a talk about the public transportation in Chicago.  That was probably one of the most useful things that I will learn outside of school, but then they said that this would not apply to all places.  Darn!  Then, we put that lesson to the test and rode the bus and then the train to Chinatown.

It’s interesting that Chinatown was further away from downtown than I thought.   Regardless, it was a good time.  We walked up on side of the street and then down the other.  We saw weird things like dried seahorses, dried fish stomach, and the sort.  I wasn’t presented in a way that wanted me to add that to my diet either.  But, we were all getting hungry so we went to this small little Chinese restaurant called Ken Kee.  It was actually very delicious.  That is also where we ended our trip to Chinatown.  We headed back to the Boulevard after that.

Upon our return we decided to go to see Obama’s house.  But, really we were just admiring the lovely trees that kept the house from sight.  After we relaxed for an hour, and then we were off again, this time to the Cambodian Museum.  I never really knew about the genocide that occurred there.  Perhaps I learned it during my time in high school, but I guess I never really understood until today.  It was a really special exhibit and moment.  It was a reflective time for me to say a prayer for all those people and the others that have survived and passed away because of genocide.  I would recommend looking into it.

From there we left to Hamburger Mary’s a hip restaurant on a little strip.  Not to mention delicious food!  And then we ended our day at a show put on by a Barrel of Monkeys. Talk about unique and awesome.  This production is written by kids in schools and put on by adults, this one happened to be a musical.  It was so humorous, probably the best way to end the day out on the town.


Elena Rael


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Sunshine, Chinatown, Remembrance, and a Barrel of Monkeys

March 11, 2014 · Comments Off on Sunshine, Chinatown, Remembrance, and a Barrel of Monkeys

Our first full day in the Chicago was blessed with incredible weather and even better adventure. We kicked off the morning with a presentation from Tiffanie Beatty in which she shared her wealth of knowledge regarding how to best utilize the Chicago public transit system. We learned how the tragic fire of 1871 devastated the Chicago landscape but had also given the city a chance to implement one of the most highly organized grid system of public buses and trains we see today. The next phase of our day allowed us to utilize these newly acquired skills in exploring the vibrant community of Chicago’s Chinatown. As we romped around, our senses were continually bombarded with the many novel sights, smells, and tastes that this had to community offer. The assortment of exotic spices, fresh fruit, brewed teas, and seafood was enough to make one’s mouth water, making the wait for lunchtime nearly unbearable yet extremely satisfying. During downtime, our group had a chance to make our way to see President Barrack Obama’s beautiful red brick house but unfortunately, the secret service carried out their job admirably leaving us to admire the structure from a distance. Next, we had an incredible opportunity to visit the Cambodian Association of Illinois where one of the only Cambodian cultural museums in the US is housed. During our visit, the exhibit on display was put together to honor the millions of Cambodians who lost their lives under the oppressive rule of the Khmer Rouge. We learned about the history of how their forces came into power as well as the atrocities that occurred under their command. Despite the history of tragedy and hardship, the Cambodian community was adamant in dedicating the memorial to a brighter future rather than the gloomy past . Images of the lotus were scattered throughout the exhibit to symbolize that beauty and new life can grow from the pain and destruction experienced by these individuals throughout history. The most moving part of this experience came from gazing at the tall panes of glass etched with the names of victims and set before a ceremonial urn that held native Cambodian soil and water. Our evening plans led us to the Neo-Futurist Theater where we were graced with the company of Barrel of Monkeys performing a show entitled “That’s weird Grandma”. This group consisted of individuals who had a passion for performing as well as teaching theater to the next generation. The hilarious program we watched was entirely written by  elementary school students with whom Barrel of Monkeys works with in developing skills such as creative writing. As we returned aching from laughter and ready to retire for the night,  spirits were high and hungry for what Chicago had in store tomorrow!

Aleksey Kozlov


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Day 1 Adventures

March 10, 2014 · Comments Off on Day 1 Adventures

At 4 a.m it definitely felt as if it was earlier…oh wait it was! Daylight savings time is not the ideal morning to travel on, however, for Chi-Urbaners it was a morning we had been waiting for for months. All ready to go we boarded the plane only to find out that there was some mechanical error, the engine was not starting on its own. To most of us that was a concerning issue, but the pilot mentioned it as if it was a normal occurrence. We waited on the crowed, warm, and stuffy plane and the pilot came on the loud speaker to tell us that the machine they were using to start the engine was not working properly and that they are scrambling to find the backup machine to start the engine.

It was nearly half hour after our scheduled departure time as we still sat in Spokane, nervous if this plane was going to make it to Minneapolis. Good news came our way shortly and we were able to depart and arrive safely to Minneapolis. Then it was quick flight to Chicago’s airport. Excited at 3p.m that we had at last made it to our destination we were able to take a shuttle to south side of Chicago. Arriving at approximately 4p.m only to find out that the door to the Chicago center was locked and no one was in the building. We waited outside in the windy city and soon decided to stand inside the local convenience store to stay warm. Awkwardly the employees started at us, probably wondering why there were eight students with luggage just standing insideimage their store. We then decided to head to the local Starbucks, as we were 490 feet away our chaperone received a phone call that we can head inside the Chicago Center building. There had been some miscommunication and they were not expecting us to arrive until 6p.m. We turned back and walked through potholes and puddles to the center and waited in the basement until a coordinator showed up twenty minutes later.

It was quiet an adventure getting to Chicago, but after getting settled in and receiving our schedule for the week I know this trip is going to be filled with excitement, adventure, and an opportunity to be thankful of the privileges I have.

 Yusra Hamidani



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The Countdown

February 28, 2014 · Comments Off on The Countdown



Today the countdown begins, 8 more days  until we make our 6 am departure for one of America’s greatest cities. . . CHICAGO! With a new cohort of diverse, passionate, and anxious scholars we are excitedly awaiting the immersion trip of a life time. Please stay tuned and experience Chicago with us, as we document yet another phenomenal adventure, in which we hope to learn, to grow, and to celebrate a city and its community.


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