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Chicago Center's Premiere Virtual Orientation

On January 3, the Chicago Center welcomed our first batch of Spring 2021 students to the Boulevard. For the following ten days, the students -- one in the student teaching program, three in the internship program, and four in the social work program -- quarantined, completing the first ever virtual orientation. Staff worked hard to prepare a schedule that would be both engaging and provide an introduction to the city.

Chelsea Cooks, 2021 Program Coordinator, had this to say about her experience with orientation: "As we pivoted to more virtual things along with the rest of the world, it was vital that we incorporate every aspect of the city, and Ally (Program Manager) did a great job with that. We were able to provide a launchpad into the city through background information in a way that isn't always possible with in-person events. It was a fun experience!"

Students watched documentaries such as “City So Real” (dir. Steve James) and “Going to Chicago” (dir. George King) to understand the history and inner workings of Chicago and it's various neighborhoods. They attended a virtual mural tour of Pilsen hosted by Luis Tubens, as well as one of Bronzeville, posted online by the Chicago Public Art Group. They also “attended” several theatre productions, including Until the Flood produced by the Goodman Theatre. Games such as Jackbox, hosted by apprentices Chelsea and Greer, and a virtual escape room presented by Ryptic Room Escape were also included to help make quarantine more bearable.

“My favorite event of virtual orientation was being able to learn more about the city of Chicago,” Jennifer Hernandez, a senior in the internship program from Alma College, said. “We did that by watching documentaries about the city of Chicago, and it showed all the different neighborhoods that this city has, and we were able to hear people’s perspective on the city as well.”

The first day out of quarantine featured ice skating at Maggie Daley Park -- a welcome reprieve from the confines of their rooms. From there, the students explored Hyde Park and found their respective placements (check below for some photos of their adventures).

“It was nice to get out and finally see the neighborhood we are living in,” Kelli Brichacek, a senior in the internship program from Hastings College, stated about the Hyde Park excursion. “The architecture around here is very different from my hometown in Nebraska; it was really cool to see all the different styles of buildings.”

This semester, our internship students are placed at Victory Gardens Theater, Seminary Co-Op Bookstores, and Comadres Cross-Cultural Marketing. Our social work students are placed at Youth Empowerment Performance Project, Ignite Community Hub, and Heartland Alliance. And finally, our student teacher is placed at Helen C Peirce School of International Studies. Check out our instagram post to see their virtual set up!

Ice skating at Maggie Daley Park


Students explored Hyde Park and it's many surprises!


Students learned to navigate the CTA post-quarantine so they could find their placements!

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