Chicago: Up Close and Personal

With the little knowledge I had and coming from California, Chicago was very one-sided to me. All I knew was that it was large, fast-paced, and busy. I had this perspective of the Windy City for the longest time. That is, until I started my Discover Chicago class where we traveled the streets and neighborhoods of the city through the means of walking.

After my first week in class, my whole perspective of Chicago changed. I learned that it’s much more than a busy place filled with busy people.

View from John Hancock Center

On my first real day out in the city, my class and I traveled to the john Hancock Center to get an aerial view of Chicago. It was breathtaking. The buildings were enormous and the people looked so small. I thought to myself what a great way to start this class. However, this was only one view of the city. It didn’t depict the uniqueness of the streets or show the rich culture of the neighborhoods. Although I thoroughly enjoyed Chicago from a death defying height, I was eager to explore more of the city through an up close and personal perscpective. Uptown, in particular, really left an impact on me and gave me a whole new outlook of the city.

At first, Uptown did not look that appealing to me. I had this negative perception towards it. I wasn’t open to it at all and kept thinking to myself when are we going to get out of here, but as we walked and ventured out, I discovered that there’s so much more to this neighborhood. We walked passed this one building that caught my eye. It showed people hand in hand with the words “live and rejoice” written above them. I was intrigued. We kept on walking and that’s when my class and I discovered Uplift Community High School. The walls of the school were covered with art and messages from corner to corner. At that moment, I knew that Uptown was a strong community. The messages written were so inspiring it made me think…how can I unite my community in such a way that Uptown has? The racial and ethnic diversity taking place there is a civic strength that more communities should adopt. The atmosphere, the culture, the people; it’s not what I expected from a city like Chicago.

Art and Murals from around Uptown and at Uplift Community High School

Coming to Uptown with my Discover Chicago class has shown me the versatility of the neighborhoods in the city and how they are all different in their own way. Yeah, it was fascinating to view Chicago from a large tower, but it does not compare to the intimacy that I experienced by actually traveling to all these places. Chicago is no longer one-sided to me. I look at people differently know and ponder questions about the communities that I normally wouldn’t ponder. There are so many aspects to this city in ways that California cannot even compare. I’m very grateful to be here and am excited to be immersed in such a diverse city.