A Small Fish Meets a Big World

When I arrived in the bright bustling metropolis of Chicago, Illinois I was thrust into a loud, crazy and unfamiliar world. Having spent my whole life in the quiet suburb of Avon, Indiana, I always knew where I was. I knew where to go, who to spend time with, when to go out and when to stay in. But when I left that life behind, I was lost. A small fish in an incredibly large pond. I had no friends, no bearings and no sense of home.

This was a stressful situation. I needed names and faces to know, to remember. Fortunately, this was fulfilled when I started my Discover Chicago class. For a week I spent my days with the same group of people, all going through the same struggle that I was. All from different places and backgrounds, yet united by a shared future.

I chose this image because it represents the unique bond shared by this class. We as a group are much like Albany Park. People from different backgrounds come together and celebrate each other not for their similarities, but for their unique histories and characteristics. I enjoyed hearing about Drake, who spent his summers travelling the Pacific Coast Highway and Lu, who talked about the differences between Chinese and US culture, and the other magnificent experiences that were shared with this class.

Before September 2 of this year I had never even heard of Albany Park. But walking that day I found myself in a neighborhood that defied my expectations. Everywhere I looked I saw a different language, a different story. I heard the experiences of a man who had lived there his whole life and it really made the place seem like a neighborhood, rather than just a spot on the map.

Chicago is not a place to conquer. It is not a place that you morph into your old home. It is a great mosaic of a city, and each citizen has a special contribution to the intricate artwork of urban life. Chicago will never be quiet or familiar or straightforward, but it is a home, and it is a home that I am proud to call my own.