Etgar 36

Chicago Day #1

We have 2 posts for the day!

Post #1 – Kendal Massie 

My roommates and I woke up to about three different alarms, but it wasn’t until the counselor’s knocking at 8 am on our door that I finally got to crawl out of bed. I am still very exhausted from our long day of travel yesterday, flying from San Francisco to Chicago. We left the hotel at 8:45, and Billy played our welcoming song for Chicago, “Sweet Home Chicago.” It was nice to actually recognize a song he played when entering a state/city. We got off the bus and walked beneath the “L” train system (short for elevated) to reach our destination, which was neat and unique compared to other cities with underground subways or trolly cars. We went to talk to Claudia, who is part of Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, aka CCH. CCH advocates for policy changes to help out the homeless. To help get their policies passed, they give the homeless a voice by spreading their stories which are really powerful. Two people, Myron Burr and Patricia Franklin, spoke with us and told us their heartfelt stories of how they became homeless, how they’ve overcome being homeless, as well as how they are still affected today.

After our meaningful discussion, we went to a food hall for lunch, and I had empanadas which were pretty good.

From there, we walked to Grant Park and discussed the park’s history, such as the clashes between Chicago Police and demonstrators during the Democratic National Convention in 1968. It was fascinating picturing the total destruction and chaos the park we were standing in must have looked like instead of the complete beauty and peacefulness it is today.

After our discussion, we walked to The Art Institute Of Chicago and explored the museum for about an hour and a half. It was really cool seeing famous paintings like the unhappy father and daughter with a pitchfork (American Gothic). Like most places we’ve visited on our journey, there wasn’t enough time to explore the entire museum. Still, with the time we were given, I skimmed through as much of the museum as possible, saving time to look at my favorite artwork in more detail. It was really cool seeing art from the Classical period after learning in world history last year about the Middle Ages and how art was revolutionized during the Renaissance. I also saw the same techniques and tricks I learned in art class reflected in some of the paintings, specifically in The Temptation of Saint Jerome.

Once we left the art museum, we walked over to THE BEAN, which was such a relief because I was very worried we weren’t going to see it. I mean, you can’t say you went to Chicago without seeing THE BEAN! THE BEAN was pretty epic! From THE BEAN, we took the bus to Diversey Pier. It was a beautiful sight looking at the city of Chicago from a distance and staring off into the horizon of Lake Michigan. The lake is just a teensy bit bigger than the lake I live on in Georgia (sarcasm).

We ate dinner at Whole Foods, which was chill. After dinner came the part I looked most forward to out of our day in Chicago. Improv Comedy! I found it kind of similar to the poetry slam in LA and absolutely loved it! It really made me understand how SNL has so many random and bizarre yet hilarious skits. It was really fun watching and interacting with the creative actors creating so many hilarious scenes on the spot. I love theater and acting in musicals/plays because I can memorize lines, whereas here, the actors all had flawless conversations off the cuff that were so funny, which was very impressive! Today was a very fun and eventful day! It really sucks that the six Etgarians that left the trip had to go. Their empty seats on the bus and vacancy in our discussions are felt. We all definitely miss them. This entire journey has been unbelievably fun, and I am not looking forward to it ending! 

Post #2 – Lila Wolf Wagner 

For our first activity of the day, we spoke to three people who worked for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Two shared their own stories, which were extremely impactful, and the third spoke about the efforts, both successful and ongoing, to make policy changes in Chicago and Illinois as a whole. I found this really powerful because everyone knows that poverty and homelessness are huge issues in the country but rarely do you get to speak with real people who are able to tell you what it’s like and how it can be prevented.

Then we headed over to Revival Food Hall for a quick lunch and went on our way to the Art Institute of Chicago. Before we got there, we sat in Grant Park, the site of the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the subsequent protests led by the Youth International Party, or the Yippies. The Yippies nominated a pig for president as a protest against the powers that the president holds and as a way to degrade the government. The peace platform was also established by Democratic Party in an effort to end the Vietnam War. We ended the conversation by talking about the effort people in the past had to go through to protest against the government and get their message out because not everything is instantaneous as it is now. We spoke a lot about finding your people, as we always do.

After Grant Park, we turned around and walked to the Art Institute of Chicago. We spent about an hour and a half in the art museum. I personally love art (I’m planning to major in art history!), so I was thrilled when I got to write for today. My favorite room was definitely the Impressionist art, but the American art—including classics like “American Gothic” and “Nighthawks”—was also extremely powerful. The tracking of the path of our country through art was an incredible way to take a little break from the busy days while still getting history and impact from it. I’m always drawn to the Impressionists, and I was lucky enough to spot some paintings of the New England landscape (I’m from Massachusetts). We rounded out our trip to the Institute with a quick stop at the gift shop to commemorate our time in the city.


Then we made it to the quintessential Chicago tourist spot: The Bean. It was as cool as people say; maybe it was even cooler. It was definitely a highlight of the day. We spent a couple of minutes hanging out and snapping pictures before getting on the bus.

We then went to sit by Lake Michigan for around 40 minutes, just enjoying nature and taking a breath. We grabbed dinner at a nearby Whole Foods and headed to our final activity: the Clash on Clark, a local improv comedy club. It was a great way to end a great day. It was a really fantastic way to send us off. Today showcased the spirit of the city and the resilience of the people living here; we will definitely always remember our time in Chicago.