Archive for the ‘Student Highlights’ Category
April 24th, 2012
Here at Chicago Center, students get firsthand experience in issues of social justice and community engagement every day. Spring ’12 Social Work Practicum student Siri Lokensgard wrote about an unforgettable experience during her Social Work placement.
“Throughout the entire day, I was at Legal Assistance Foundation in the South Loop helping them with a Children Across Borders Event, in which lawyers, judges, social services providers, and attorney generals from around the world come to the United States under the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Visitors from Brazil, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Uruguay, Netherlands, and Cambodia (to name only a few) were present to discuss issues regarding children, such as poverty, abduction, foster care, trafficking, and immigration. All of these individuals were coming together to provide more insight into these issues internationally and offer the United States a better understanding and perspective of these problems at large. This was probably one of the coolest and most interesting things that I have ever been a part of. It was very neat to see this unification of influential leaders from around the world come together to address and fight against these social injustices.
In the afternoon, I attended the meeting, interacted and talked with these leaders about social justice issues. I felt so fortunate being able to discuss issues that I have been researching, getting a better understanding of international efforts and cultural practices. I think it helped me become a lot more competent not only culturally but also academically. It definitely made me reflect on and critique the way our systems work in the United States. For example, in many of the countries being represented, they do not believe in nursing homes, viewing them as shameful and disrespectful to the elderly. In addition with all of this, we broke up into smaller groups to discuss specific topics, such as community engagement, trafficking, social work, and immigration issues. I had the honor of actually leading one of these discussions. I couldn’t believe that, as only an undergraduate student, I would get to lead a group of influential leaders from around the world on issues that I am passionate about. In this discussion, we talked about social work efforts, theories/models, challenges systemically and institutionally, and creative strategies. In this discussion, I learned a lot more about foster care efforts in other countries.
Finally, we ended the event by having a time for networking. I had been itching to talk with this man from Cambodia on the issue of sex trafficking, since that is a passion of mine and a field of practice for him, as I learned during introductions. Through this connection, I was able to see possible work in Cambodia some day for myself. This entire day just empowered me, giving me new energy to take on social justice issues around the world, teaming up with others to truly make a difference.”
November 15th, 2010
By Ben Cook
The Chicago Center for Urban Life & Culture was founded in 1970, and since then has helped thousands of college students make Chicago their classroom. The Chicago Center serves students from more than 30 liberal arts colleges and universities by providing practicum opportunities in all academic majors as well as urban teaching and social work in Chicago.
The Chicago Center engages students with urban resources, realities, and issues through a first voice pedagogy which uses the city directly as a teaching resource.
Upon arrival, students share apartments in the heart of Hyde Park (1327 E. Hyde Park Boulevard). They receive a one – or two-week course in the culture of the city, attending a variety of different religious services, plays, music, venues, museums, and festivals throughout the city.
After touring of the city, students are steered towards an internship that will challenge their particular academic interests.
StreetWise has hosted six interns from the Chicago Center in the last three years, including Brenna Daldorph, whose August 5, 2009 cover story won ‘Best Feature’ at this year’s North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA) awards.
Rachel Sylwestrzak, the most recent intern, told us about her experience with the Chicago Center and interning at StreetWise.
“I was interested in publishing, and StreetWise was one of the contacts that the Center game me.” Sylwestrzak said. “It wasn’t the exact idea I had in mind, but I thought that working here would challenge me, in addition to giving me an inside look at a lifestyle that I hadn’t really been exposed to. I’m glad I came here, because it worked out great. One thing that was kind of big for me – I live in the suburbs, and we don’t have public transportation. One of the things the Center stressed was how to use the CTA to get around the city. So, it’s made me more comfortable when I have to go out to different locations for stories,” She continued.
“I got to cover a few city hall meetings, which is something I’d never got to do before. It was very interesting and definitely something I will remember from my experience here in Chicago.”
Sylwestrzak concluded, “The Chicago Center is very supportive of the internship. I like how they let us take charge of the experience. It’s been a perfect fit.”
Marit Ehmke interned at StreetWise through Chicago Center in January 2009. Reflecting on her experiences, she said, “I learned a lot of new things, met a lot of great people, and experience what life in Chicago is really all about. Working at StreetWise reminded me of how important it is to help out in when, where, and any way you can.”
For more information about the Chicago Center for Urban Life & Culture, visit www. chicagocenter.org, or call 773.262.1313
November 10th, 2010
Hyde Park Herald, November 3, 2010
The Chicago Center, located here in Hyde Park, could very well be the most important neighborhood institution you’ve never heard of. Tucked away in the office space at 1515 E. 52nd Pl., the center has spent four decades bridging the gap between urban communities and those that attend university with an eye to studying them, teaching in them and otherwise working in those places. Scott Chesebro, who heads the center, describes it as having more in common with, for example, a living abroad program than with a more traditional urban studies format.
We don’t think of ourselves as a service learning program. We don’t think of ourselves as a vista-type education program [We are] an urban education program that utilizes the city and its resources as an educational tool,” Chesebro said.
Students at Chicago Center, who come from over 30 colleges largely in less urban settings and in many cases from across the Midwest, are given crash courses in navigating public transportation, exposed to the diversity of neighborhoods throughout the city and are challenged to deal directly with the people who are represented by the studies and statistics that often are the main fare of such majors as sociology and urban planning.
It is this quality, which Urban Social Work Practicum Director Arvis Averette describes as “a reliance on first voices,” that sets the center apart from many other kinds of programs.
“It’s like study abroad in Chicago,” Chesebro said. “It functions more like a study abroad program than it does a service learning program or an internship program that a student might do while they’re at the University of Chicago. Maybe they do an internship at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, but they’re still living on campus, they’re still going to classes every day. They’re just doing a volunteer experience in the neighborhood.”
Averette contrasts this to other learning environments related to urban studies.
“Many of the academic things that one does in school-you look at the community and study it, look at the statistics and so forth. But here- the separation from the other programs I’ve been aware of – is this reliance on having people from that community who are very responsible people, who know the community and speak to it to the students in a learning fashion,” Averette said. “For example, if we are going to deal with Bronzeville, we would invariably talk to Tim Black or Harold Lucas who are the reigning experts on these areas.”
By all accounts, students currently at the center give high marks to the approach.
Student Ryann Bird, who comes from a small town in rural Nebraska and attends school in Lincoln, said her initial impression of the South Side of Chicago was, like many people, based on pretty unreliable source of information.
“I’m from a really tiny town in Nebraska with 5,500 people. My parents, they knew everything they see on TV about the South Side of Chicago. I was nervous at first,” Bird said. “But Hyde Park is really safe and homey…it’s not like the media portrays it at all.”
Bird is interning at the DuSable Museum of African American History, which she gets to via public transportation each day from the apartment building the center recently purchased for its students. Student Beth Izzo, who is teaching second grade at Beasley Elemetary on State Street, said the shared living quarters have been a big help to her as a student teacher.
‘It’s good to live with other student teachers so we can talk about our experiences, which always helps,” Izzo said, “It’s nice to have that support system.”
Chicago Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a full day of events this Saturday, Nov. 6, culminating in an evening at Carnivale. For more information, call Althea Conyers at 773-363-1312 or visit chicagocenter.org
July 13th, 2010
This week’s edition of the Hyde Park Herald showcased Chicago Center’s new student housing. Click the image to check out the article “Chicago Center raising digs dough” on the Hyde Park Herald Website, or read the article below!
Chicago Center raising digs dough
By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
The Chicago Center has begun fundraising for its new Hyde Park student building.
The Chicago Center, which is a Hyde Park-based non-profit organization at 1515 E. 52nd Pl., offers programs that expose college students to city living and world cultures. The center has cooperative agreements with about 40 colleges to act as a host to students who want to study any subject in an urban area.
The center’s newly purchased student housing, which is located on the 1600 block of Hyde Park Boulevard near Kenwood Avenue, is a three-flat with five bedrooms on each floor, which has 3,300 square feet. Each floor can house up to eight students so the building can hold up to 30 students total. The property also has a garden level where a study, recreation and laundry room will be added
Each residential floor is named after the center’s principal founders Don and Unice Shatz, Phyllis Cunningham and Jim Bertucci. The center is planning to make plaques with the founder’s names for each floor.
Scott Chesebro, executive director of the program, said the center once owned a building at 5004 S. Blackstone Ave., but sold it in 1992 “because it was too small for the program’s purposes.”
Although the program went on to rent several apartment units in the neighborhood, Chesebro said that they always intended to purchase another housing unit, so when the center’s real estate agent called to tell them about the property, which once served as housing for students of the Zavarian religious order, they moved quickly, purchasing the property on Dec. 21, 2009, and moving in on Jan. 5, 2010.
“This building represents more than a building – it’s how our students relate to one another and community,” said Althea Conyers, marketing and public relations director at the center. “The students will learn what it means to live as a community.”
Chesebro said with all the students living in one building they won’t feel isolated and the center will have an easier time dealing with issues of safety and maintenance.
“Since most of the students come from rural areas their colleges and parents will feel better knowing they are together in a central place,” Chesebro said.
Conyers said weekly student staff meetings and other workshops also help students feel secure and gain confidence in their areas of study.
Kevin Renderman, who completed his urban teaching practicum at Kenwood Academy in April, was a part of the first group of students to live in the new student housing property. He said he enjoyed the level of support he received. He was especially grateful for the education seminars and other professional and lifestyle support classes given through the center.
“In the [education seminar] class we would just talk about our week and our experiences and when problems arise we would talk them out and get advice and lesson plan ideas from each other,” Renderman said.
Shortly after the property was purchased, the center received a $200,000 loan from the Illinois Facilities Fund for remodeling. Now the center is reaching out to alumni and friends to make donations toward maintaining the property.
Donators can sponsor the upkeep of a room for $1,000 or have their names inscribed in bricks for the garden for $200.
The Chicago Center is gearing up for a weeklong celebration of its 40th anniversary in November. In addition to the purchase of the student housing property, the organization has a new logo and Web site.
For more information about the Chicago Center, call 1-800-747-6059 or 773-363-1312 or email email@example.com.
May 14th, 2010
This week’s edition of the Hyde Park Herald showcased Chicago Center Student, Kevin Renderman. Kevin is from Millikin University, he participated in Chicago Center’s Urban Teaching Practicum during the Spring 10 semester and student taught at Kenwood Academy in Hyde Park. Click the image to check out the article “Student as Teacher” on the Hyde Park Herald Website, or read the article below!
Student as Teacher
Chicago Center student taught at Kenwood
By DACHELL M. PHILLIPS
Although Kevin Renderman is a Chicago native he never traveled too far outside of his tight-knit Irish Catholic neighborhood of Mount Greenwood until it was time for him to attend Millikin University, an undergraduate, Presbyterian institution in Decatur, Ill. Once he decided he was interested in teaching in the city, Renderman found the Chicago Center for Urban Life & Culture’s Urban Teaching Practicum as a great help.
Renderman said he decided he wanted to become a math teacher his junior year at Marist High School, but once he got into college he changed his mind and began to pursue a degree in physical education because he “didn’t want to be stuck in the classroom eight hours a day.”
Faced with the choice to student teach in Decatur or Chicago Renderman chose Chicago and said although he is a native he has learned so much more about his hometown through participating in the Chicago Center Urban Teaching Practicum.
The Chicago Center, which is a Hyde Park-based non-profit, offers programs that expose college students to city living and world cultures. The center has cooperative agreements with about 40 colleges to act as a host to students who want to study any subject in an urban area.
“The center’s experiential learning philosophy, which allows students to learn through first-person experience, is what attracts many of the students to its programs,” said Althea Conyers, marketing and public relations director at Chicago Center. “Unlike most higher education institutions in Chicago, the students who attend are encouraged to live, work and study in all part of the city.”
Renderman, who started the program Jan. 5, said he saw parts of Chicago he’d never been to before and learned about Chicago’s architectural history.
Renderman was also part of the first group of students to live in the Chicago Center’s newly purchased student housing. The new building, which is located on Kenwood Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard, is a three-flat that can house up to 30 students. The program formerly had long-term leases on several apartments in the neighborhood. Renderman lived in one of the units with seven roommates.
Renderman said that he’s enjoyed the level of support he has received during his time here.
“I heard a lot of bad things about [Chicago Public Schools],” Renderman said. “When I told people I was coming here they would say, ‘Oh sorry,’ but I have not had any problems.”
On Jan. 11 Renderman started teaching three 7th through 8th grade PE classes and two health classes at the Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. He was also the assistant coach for the freshman basketball team.
He said that Kenwood teachers were great mentors and that principal Elizabeth Kirby and assistant principal David Barain were great influences.
He said the Chicago Center’s weekly education seminar with Nancy Friesen has also provided a great deal of support.
“[Friesen] has been a teacher for over 25 years and is a great mentor,” Renderman said. “In the class we would just talk about our week and our experiences and when problems arise we would talk them out and get advice and lesson plan ideas from each other. “
After completing the Urban Teaching Practicum on April 30, Renderman returned to Millikin to prepare for graduation on May 16. He said that he is considering teaching in Boston for a short time but after that, becoming a CPS teacher on a permanent basis is definitely a goal for him.
The Chicago Center is gearing up for a weeklong celebration of its 40th anniversary in November. In addition to the purchase of student housing, the organization has a new logo and Web site. For more information about the Chicago Center, call 1-800-747-6059 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 5th, 2010
Out of His Comfort Zone
TR native gets taste of big city life by student teaching in Chicago
By Cindy Hodgson • Herald Times Reporter • March 2, 2010
Josh LeGreve, back right, long-term substitute Spanish teacher in the Mishicot School District, helps students set up their personal accounts on the Edmodo Web site so they can converse with Justin Gerlach's English students in Argentina. LeGreve is filling in for Gerlach, who took a leave of absence from teaching in Mishicot to teach English to Spanish-speaking students in Argentina. He is helping, from left, sophomores Jacob LeFleur, Nathan Krcma and Andrew Schwerma. In the background is senior Kiyanna Faulks. (Sue Pischke/HTR)
MISHICOT — When it came time to do his student teaching, Two Rivers native Josh LeGreve decided not to go the usual route.
LeGreve, 23, said most of his fellow students at Ripon College choose to student teach at a nearby school, such as in Ripon, Oshkosh or Fond du Lac.
“I wanted to move out of my comfort zone,” he said. “I wanted to push myself as a teacher.”
LeGreve decided to do his student teaching in Chicago through a partnership Ripon College has with the Chicago Center for Urban Life & Culture. Read More
January 25th, 2010
Here at Chicago Center, we want to give you the best picture of what a great comprehensive Chicago internship program can be like and what it can teach you. So we plan to regularly bring you descriptions of our student practicums written by the participants themselves!
By understanding former students’ experiences in their Chicago internships, you can also understand the benefit a Chicago Center practicum can bring to your education, career and life. This week, Dave Reid from Willamette University, talks about his time with the Chicago Center.
Dave’s Chicago Internship Experience
Dave participated in the 2009 Fall semester Urban Academic Practicum. He spent three days a week working in his internship at the Austin Polytechnical Academy, where he worked as a teaching assistant to high school students. One day a week, he took part in our Chicago Communities and Cultures Seminar, and one day a week he took a Directed Studies course. Students are asked to keep an academic journal while participating in Chicago Center, here’s what Dave had to say in his journal summarizing his Chicago Center experience:
Dave Reid works with high school students in his Chicago internship.
March 3rd, 2008
Faina Polt, Fall 2007 Student, shares this poem:
Poem for the South Side
There is a skill in knowing you
that I have yet to master.
With a bitter kindness
in your veins,
my mouth is full of salt when
I press my fingers to you and
feel the hot, thready
pulse of life
gritty and jumping
beneath my touch.
More than breathing,
you are a way to live
and so many lose themselves
in your concrete oceans,
cracked sidewalks, porches,
and bus stops.
This is a love letter to you
who loves so many lightly she has
to love just one full
and deep.You spread your passion
you can’t even warm
Oh, burning city,
blooming and breaking,
outside the dirty windows.
I know it’s wrong
to beg your love,
but you light secret fires in me,
in places I didn’t even know
and I can’t help but add
another voice to the chorus of
so many already
on their knees.
February 25th, 2008
Ami Regier of Bethel College sent this photo she took during her LearnChicago! program last month. She writes, “I love this picture of Jose’s face with Emiliano Zapata’s face. Jose did a very important, compelling portrayal of how significant public art is to communal identity and history and growth.”
Students took a walking mural tour in Pilsen, a neighborhood in Chicago.
May 11th, 2007
The following is a student journal entry at the end of the semester:
How do you wrap up and summarize a life-changing experience? I shall do my best.
Upon my arrival, I had no idea how the Windy City would change this sheltered, shy girl into an independent, strong woman. It was as though I dropped myself in a completely new, harsh environment and I had to adapt to the new living conditions. I didn’t realize a change; it just sort of happened. One minute I was amazed at the amount of diversity and how wonderful it felt to be in a place where everyone can find a niche, and the next I was becoming part of the diverse population. I was creating my own space.
Though I did not have my traditional educational experience, I learned so much that will be forever valuable to me. Having the opportunity to be out in the city was something that worried me at first: how would talking to a bunch of random people and looking at some murals be worthwhile as a class? But actually experiencing the different cultures that exist within Chicago had a profound effect–actually seeing people from different walks of life and partaking in different cultural programs allowed me to understand the city more than a textbook could. Though I may not have filled notebooks with facts and figures, I was able to gain valuable life experience.
I had no idea that Chicago was going to have all of this microcosms of different cultures scattered throughout the city. It’s like Epcot at Disney World – you can visit different places around the world in just one area. Except it’s not Disney; there are no commercialized, carefully crafted mini-countries. There are actually authentic communities for people to experience as much of native culture as they can within a U.S. setting. Actually being able to go to these different places allows you to experience different cultures in a first-hand way.
I grew up while I was here. Living in a city like this makes you aware of everything: safety, race, self-sufficiency, etc. Living in the bubble of a small, private liberal arts college shelters you from a lot of what the world is like and actually being removed from that comfort zone shows you the capacity for growth that you actually have.