Patrick Rezek ’15 –  Well, Tuesday was day two of our week-long immersion trip in Chicago. My host school is Kenwood Academy, a public, magnet school that for students grades 7-12. I have been placed in a 7th grade English class with a general class size of 42! This can get a little crazy at times, but the students are good at helping calm each other down when it’s time to get work done.

My class just started a unit over The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. The novel is full of short, little vignettes that are meant to give a snapshot depiction of Esperanza’s life as she struggles through adolescence. Its is a perfect time for these students to be reading this short novel because many of them struggle with the same problems that Esperanza does. We haven’t gotten much of the reading done, but we have been engaged in deep conversations and debates over important themes presented in the novel: family, identity, gender/race, lifestyles and expectations.

I have had some of the most unexpected and inspiring stories about the lives of these students and what they go through every day, and it’s an experience that you cant get anywhere else besides being in the classroom with them. My host teacher has created such an environment where the students are able to open up and discuss real life problems as they also see them applied to literature.

I look forward to teaching a full day of lessons Wednesday and Thursday! The experience of co-teaching in Chicago has opened up a new door for me in terms of both my options as a career but also my passion – my desire to help those students who really want to do well and continue their own educational growth, but may not have the money or resources to do so. Thank you to those alums, faculty, and current students who continue to donate financial support for immersion trips such as this one. It has truly been rewarding and inspirational!