Chicago Education: Zachary Biddle ’18

Education students met with alumni at Little Italy’s Francesca’s.

Zachary Biddle ’18 — I come from a small town just East of Indianapolis called New Palestine. Being from there, I was not immersed in anything but white culture. To be honest, I came into this week with much skepticism on what it was I would be experiencing. I was skeptical of things like public transportation, being in a school/neighborhood I had never experienced anything like, and how the students would interact with me. I was nervous that the students would treat me with no respect because of what I had heard and seen about public, urban schools in big cities. If I learned anything over the week, it would be to not judge a book by its cover. This week has been one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences I have had in my life. The school itself was a great experience. Not only was it n experience for me to learn about these kids’ lives, but also, it was an experience for these big city kids to learn about a kid from rural Indiana. I created a bond with these students over the past four days that I did not expect to happen. Many of these students have no support system at home, so the school is the only support they have. It was great to know that my doubts and skepticism about Chicago Public Schools could be put to rest knowing that there were great students and great teachers apart of it.

We have been immersed in different cultures throughout the week by going to Chinatown, Pilsen, and Little Italy. These places have also led to new experiences in culture in the form of food. The food that we have tried this week has been amazing and I have been able to try new things that I never have in the past. For example, I tried Calamari for the first time and loved it. It was interesting to see how different cultures expressed ideas as well. In Pilsen, which is a Mexican neighborhood, we walked around and saw Mexican murals painted on the side of buildings and all over. This showed us how different cultures interact and express feelings and ideas.

Thursday night, we got to go to a great restaurant in Little Italy called Francesca’s. We met up with Alumni there and talked about our week and what this trip has meant to us so far. It was cool to see how what we were seeing in the neighborhoods and in the classrooms matched up with what the Alumni think about the ideas. Talking with Alumni and fellow Wabash peers and staff allowed us to debrief how our week as been, and do so in a way that allowed us to look at what others have noticed while being on this trip and think about their perspectives and how it can change the way we all think.

All in all this week has been a culture shock for me. It has opened my eyes to new perspectives and allowed me to look at things through a different lens. I am thankful for this trip and am a better person because of it. For future students that go on this trip, go in with an open-mind and be ready to try new things, because at the end of the day, we are all apart of these United States and it is our goal as Americans to be welcoming an accepting to all cultures and walks of life.

Chicago Education: Zachary Bleisch ’18

Education students enjoying a dinner out.

Zachary Bleisch ’18 — We have been in Chicago now for three days, and have spent two days teaching in the classroom. I am teaching 5th-8th grade algebra at Walsh Elementary. It’s located in a predominantly Mexican community and this is apparent in the school. My first impression of my school was fantastic! All of the staff was overly excited a welcoming to not me, but also the students when I first walked in the building, and it has continued throughout my time in the classroom.

In addition to my warm welcome, my host teacher is a phenomenal example of what an educator should be. She has the students’ trust and has built friendships, but she also is able to manage the classroom and create clear boundaries. It has been amazing to be able to see her interact in front of the classroom and learn from her.

While Walsh has been a great school, they have faced some of the stereotypical struggles of Urban schools. Over the past couple weeks, there have been a series of gang related shootings in the neighborhood, one of which happened on the street of the school, in front of the eight grade class. I wouldn’t have been able to tell by the student’s actions if I hadn’t been told. It is nice that the students are able to look past and continue on with their lives, but also being that close to a school shooting did not have a visible impact on many students. This is a pretty extreme instance, and my experience at Walsh has been amazing!

Tuesday was teacher appreciation day, and the family of the students brought in lunch for the teachers. As I mentioned earlier, the school is predominantly Mexican, and they brought in some traditional Mexican food. I am a huge Mexican food fan, so this was a great experience.

So far we haven’t had a large amount of time to wonder around Chicago, but we have been able to go to Chinatown and walk around the city for a little on Monday. We walked to the lake front on Monday, but unfortunately Navy Pier was closed by 9.

Tuesday night we went to an Ethiopian restaurant. This was the first time I had this type of food. The food was great and much different than anything I have had before. After dinner we went to Wrigley as a group and walked around the area and stores. I had never been to Wrigley before, and it was an amazing place, and I am glad I was able to see the historic park.

Overall, the week has been fantastic, I have had many new experiences and I am looking forward to being able to get more involved in the classroom and exploring more of Chicago.

Chicago Education: Dalton Miller ’17

Dalton Miller ’17 — On the way to De La Salle high school Sunday afternoon, I tried to observe the areas we travelled through to gain an idea of what student life may be like, and I came face to face with a three story moose blowing a bubble that made me realize a stark truth about Chicago: don’t expect things to be what I consider “normal” in rural Indiana. As I prepared to enter the Catholic, De Lasallian high school on South Side Chicago that I’d be in all this week, I honestly had no idea as to what I should expect as I stepped through the main doors on Monday morning. Once my mentor teacher arrived and took me to his classroom on the third floor, I was still rather anxious as to what I would experience in the classroom during my week stay in Chicago. That anxiety quickly retreated and was replaced with excitement as students began to file in and prepare for the day’s class. Before even stepping foot into De La Salle to meet the students and faculty at the school, I had prepared myself for an experience entirely different when in reality it’s not too far from the classroom settings I’ve seen in the past, specifically Wabash. Since I am placed at the De La Salle all-male campus I see a lot of similarities in how the classroom is ran by my mentor teacher, but it’s slightly odd because it is an all-male atmosphere at the high school level instead of the collegiate level.

Since it is an all-male school the discussions and lessons have resembled those I have experienced at Wabash, but the content and approach to each topic is slightly shifted as the students are only sophomores in high school. Although this makes the classrooms louder and harder to gain or maintain control over, I can’t help but think if I would be able to take that kind of commanding control when it comes to me teaching urban students. At Wabash we have a healthy variety of rural and urban students–whether it be large or small cities and towns–that adds to the diverse nature that Wabash prides itself on. This is not at all true in Chicago. Kids do come from all over the city, but nothing in Chicago comes close to the town of Crawfordsville that I’ve lived in my entire life. Of course travelling and living in Chicago has been an eye-opening and sometimes drastic change from what I’m used to  in Indiana, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the few days I’ve been here this week. Without travelling on public transportation, walking upwards of 5 miles a day, and observing a Catholic De Lasallian classroom all day I can’t say I truly experienced Chicago in my week here.

I have experienced a variety of what Chicago has to offer, but without living, travelling, and observing the many areas of Chicago that this week has given me the opportunity to do I could never say I actually experienced urban education. It may only be Tuesday, but my time in Chicago has already opened my eyes to thousands of new sights and events that occur on a daily basis in an urban setting. I only hope that my remaining days here will provide me with opportunities to experience Chicago in as many ways as possible that help me better understand the basics of urban education. Our immersion trip has already been amazing and I know the rest of this week will provide me with a personal understanding of the fundamental principles needed to be an effective urban educator, wherever I may be in the near and distant future.

Chicago Education: Lincoln Kyle ’17

Lincoln Kyle ’17

Students spend time at Chicago’s Chinatown at the Emperor’s Choice Restaurant.

Saturday night I set my alarm for six a.m. so that way I would have time to get up and shower before heading to the train station at 6:30. As I went to bed, I had several thoughts about what my trip to Chicago would be like, but I really had no idea what I was going to experience. I am not sure what time I fell asleep, but I know that I woke up well before my six a.m. alarm. I woke up and looked at my phone and it read “5:00 a.m.” I lay there and tried to go back to sleep, but was unable to do so as thoughts of excitement raced through my head. Eventually I just got up and got ready. 6:30 a.m. finally rolled around and my friend kindly drove me to the train station.

I got there at the same time that Zach Anderson did and as we stood their waiting for the rest of the group to arrive we discussed our different views of how the week would go. As the rest of the group showed up we shared our views and asked them how they thought the week would go. I think that we all had somewhat of an idea, because we have all had friends that have taken the class before. Just hearing their stories was not enough though. The train arrived, a little late unfortunately, and as we boarded I stated to feel even more excitement knowing that our trip was actually beginning.

I was able to stay awake for a little bit of the train ride just because it was my first time experiencing anything like it. After that excitement left me, drowsiness overtook me and I fell asleep. I was in and out of sleep the whole trip but was fully awake as I heard one of the voices come over the intercom to tell us we were ten minutes away. Even more thoughts started to race through my mind as we started to come up on the city. I was able to see the skyscrapers and all that the entire city had to offer and I knew that this was going to be a good start to the week.

I was still pretty tired at this point but was able to push through it due to all the curiosity I had about the city. As we walked to our hostel, Dr. Seltzer would tell us about different streets and different places that she knew about. I tried to pay as much attention as possible knowing that I may not be here again for awhile. I wanted to make sure that I was taking everything in. We finally arrived at the hostel and we were able to relax for a little bit, but not too long.

After about thirty minutes of just sitting around and relaxing, Dr. Hensey arrived and an orientation while we ate lunch. We ate sandwiches from that café that is located in the hostel. They were rather tasty. Once we were done eating, Dr. Hensey took us through a presentation and helped us learn more about Chicago Public Schools, our own individual schools, and the public transportation system. This was all very helpful because as soon as that was over we were sent to find our own schools by ourselves.

Zach Biddle and myself walked out of the doors of our hotel took a left, took one more left, and then walked until we reached the point where the orange line stops at Wabash and Adams. The orange line is the train route that we take to get to our school, Thomas Kelly High School.  We scanned our transit cards; obviously it took us a few tries to get right. We sat there and waited a few minutes, but the train finally arrived and we boarded. We were a little nervous about getting to our school, but in total it only took us thirty minutes to get there. Thankfully we did not have any problems at all.

Art Institute of Chicago

Once we got to our school, we found the front door and looked around the area so that we are not surprised in the morning. After that, we headed back to the hostel and finally checked into our room. Once in our room, I tried to relax a little, but it was difficult. I was tired, but I was still filled with eagerness. There were still things that needed to be done. As four o’clock rolled around we all got dressed and ready and took off towards our next destination, Chinatown.

I did not know what to expect from Chinatown, but it did not disappoint. As we walked from shop to shop I tried to take in all of the culture that I am so unfamiliar to. We walked into several different shops to look around and see what the different vendors had to offer. There were some pretty amazing stores that we walked in to. There were way to many stores for us to walk into all of them, but I think that we were able to get a good sense of what it’s like in Chinatown on a daily basis, it just wasn’t as busy as it probably would be.

After going through the different shops we went to eat at Emperor’s Choice Restaurant. As we sat there and ate I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be on this trip. I am thankful that for the opportunities that Wabash College has given to me. We have been given the opportunity to experience something we may never get to experience again while trying to impact the lives of these children at the same time. Hopefully this week is all that I am expecting and more.

Hopkins ’19 – All Roads Lead to Rome

Matthew Hopkins ’19 — It was 9am – touch down in Rome. A 9-hour flight and I maybe slept 45 minutes of it. A combination of cramped leg space and a general fear of flying must have been what inhibited me. We unloaded the plane, grabbed our luggage, hopped on a train to the city, and hauled our bags about half a mile to our hotel. We were in Rome for the week, and honestly I didn’t know what to expect. In retrospect, I was in for the best week of my life. We hit the ground running (literally). the first day was a mixture of getting familiar with the district our hotel was in (Piazza Navona) as well as seeing some historic spots such as Trajan’s Column, the imperial forum, the Pantheon, etc. How amazing it is to not just learn about something but to be able to see it with your own eyes. We may have looked like tourists gawking at all these ancient pieces of history, and we were all pretty jet lagged from the long flight, but it didn’t matter, because we made it; we were in Rome. For the next week or so, this is how our days went. We got out to all the historical sites we had been reading about the past 2 months, and with each new basilica, arch, temple ruin we saw, my marvel for this city only grew. It was a pleasant surprise that most people in Rome spoke at least a little English, because I definitely cannot speak Italian. Even though one particular conversation I had with a group of girls transpired almost exclusively through Google Translate, the language barrier proved to be the least of my worries. Throughout the week, we had group dinners, and oh boy the Romans know how to cook. We ate things such as carbonara (that brought Dr. Nelson to tears), pizza (REAL pizza), and lamb chops. Not only did I get the chance to see Rome and supplement the materials I was learning in class, I also got a chance to be immersed in a brand new culture much different than my own. What an incredible opportunity Wabash College has given me to get out and see the world.  Let’s hope that all roads really do lead to Rome, so that one day I may return.


Brown ’17 – Rome Immersion

Austin Brown on Rome Immersion Trip

On International Women’s Day 2017, our group traveled across time and space to the ancient ruins of a once bustling port city for the Roman Empire: Ostia. Although a strike by the public transportation services delayed the trip shortly, a forty-five-minute taxi ride to the western coast allowed us to experience city, highway, and countryside driving while seeing the drastic difference between Rome and rural Italy. I must admit: I was extremely skeptical of walking around a bunch of ruins for an entire day. However, no other single experience on the trip proved to be as valuable to both my intellectual and personal development as Ostia. Inside the city of limits of Rome, buildings and other structures have continually been built on top of one another like a city of layers for over 2,000 years—one must be able to construct ancient structures using the imagination. At Ostia, excavations have revealed and preserved ancient buildings and structures that once fueled the major port city largely responsible for providing Rome with grain, meats, everyday commodities, and a great number of other exotic goods. For example, Benjamin Cox ’20 led the group around what we believe to be an ancient market square; each of the trading stalls had beautiful mosaics depicting the profession or type of goods available at each miniature store. Similarly, Dr. Hartnett led us into a 2,000-year-old bar, and we were immersed into a social space not very different to those we are able to enjoy today (See Picture). For lunch, we enjoyed a beautiful picnic inside a theatre that would have housed public entertainment for all social classes and served as a meeting place for the entire city (See Picture). On a different note, my presentation covering the Cult of Cybele provided the group with an example of a foreign religion entering traditional Roman society for a specific purpose: protecting the Republic from outside invaders. Brought from modern day Turkey via Ostia to Rome, a meteorite believed to be the ancient goddess Cybele provided Rome with protection from foreign adversaries and ensured fertility among Roman women. Although Roman citizens were forbidden to join the actual Cult of Cybele due to common practices of self-castration, Cybele was honored in traditional Roman practice: large annual feasts with singing, dancing, game, and competition. All-in-all, traveling to Ostia allowed us to explore and experience the quiet remains of a once vibrant and bustling port city while imagining the importance—or lack thereof—of individual structure’s relative weight in social, political, economic, and religious spheres of everyday life.

Cox ’20 – Mediterranean Sunburn

Benjamin Cox ’20 — Today was our excursion to Ostia, the port city of Rome. It started on a somewhat hectic note, as our original travel plans were dashed by a train worker’s strike. Thanks to the quick wit of Dr. Hartnett and Dr. Nelson, we were able to get cab rides out to our destination. The day was bright and beautiful, the first sunny day we’ve had. Unfortunately for one of the fair skin, I sit writing this with quite a sunburn. We began by visiting the ruins of the old city, which were much more intact than I’d expected. Following a presentation by my fellow student Calem Parish over the cult of Mithras, we headed to the remains of the open-air theatre where we ate a picnic lunch ripe with carbohydrates and fermented grapes. After Dr. Hartnett loosened up the men with a Vatican joke, it was then my turn to present the commercial center of Ostia, the Piazzale Delle Corporazioni (an overview of the piazzale can be seen here It was a great experience to finally see the work from the first half of the semester come to fruition. Of course, my presentation was not without faults, but our class is one that embraces errors because we can learn from them. And with Dr. Hartnett and Dr. Nelson around, we never go without gentle correction and the right information. Following that, we listened to presentations by Austin Brown and Aaron Tincher before having free time to explore the extensive ruins of ancient Ostia. In this time I had to roam alone, I was able to apply what I’d learned in class so far. There really is nothing better than getting hands on experience with topics we’ve been studying. For someone like me who had never left the U.S., seeing such buildings from 2,000 years ago was a profound experience. It is awe-inspiring to see what people have accomplished in the past, and gives me a drive to one day have a similar lasting impact. We have been here less than a week, but I have grown much closer with my fellow Wallys than I had ever thought possible. All in all, I proudly enjoy the pain of my Mediterranean sunburn.

Newmister ’19 – I’ll have the Eternal City with a side of Eternal Lessons Per Favore

Spencer Newmister ’19 — After my first ever flights, I was stuck in a senses bubble with no escape after the plane ride derailed my ability to hear. My life’s dream to experience the city of Rome being in the palm of my hand seemed secondary to blowing my nose. However, even though my excitement had temporarily subsided, it was not due for an exit so much as a reemergence at the proper moment. Getting to the hotel and thereafter going on our first adventure the others and I quickly discovered that as, Tim Leath so aptly stated, “They don’t make Rome for big people,” and realized that the city had a longstanding problem of people tossing chamber pots from their second story windows acclimated the group and conditioned us to then see the splendor. Since this is Roma only food analogies will do so the trip over in comparison with each experience here on the ground has been like eating your greens before then getting desert or, perhaps more fittingly, drinking boxed sangria before any “vino rosa della casse” in the city.

I may suffer from a slight depression period upon returning stateside due to the food being more than any broke college student deserves or can find in America. However, I have learned a great deal about myself during my short time here. First, I have rediscovered how much my faith means to me. Upon entering the St. John Lateran Basilica, I was humbled by the veneration that the martyrs received being depicted as great statues but was then reminded of why Lutheranism has been such a great influence on my view of the world. I quickly became disgusted with the grandiose baroque style once I stumbled upon the bookshop inside the church and no more than 40 feet from the altar. My respect for how the veneration of these important and brave people was then at war with my shame knowing that this church was most likely decorated using funds gathered by the very injustice that Martin Luther was fought against. Furthermore, I have also noticed that our view of the world is narrowed considerably but we aren’t as bad off as some might say. As I look around this city, I see faces that are so cold and I enjoy living in a nation that allows me to say hello to strangers on the street.

Parrish ’17 – The Significance of a Public Restroom

Calem Parrish ’17 — Today, we went to the port city of Ostia. It was an absolutely mesmerizing experience. The journey itself was a big challenging, because we experienced a transportation strike in the city. However, with some quick adaptations, we were all able to make it to Ostia in a timely manner. When we arrived, the area was breathtaking. I will always appreciate being able to finally see these significant archeological findings in person (rather than a textbook). One phrase that we had heard several times throughout the day was “democratizing a rather hierarchical system,” which seemed like an overwhelming point to keep in mind throughout the day; however, this phrase was continuously brought to mind.  Everywhere that we visited demonstrated this pivotal point. One overlooked place for this was the public restroom in Ostia. In one of the city’s streets, there was a full restroom for approximately 20 people to freely use in antiquity.  In terms of “democratizing a rather hierarchical system,” the restroom would have allowed the poorer citizens to share space with the upper-class people in Ostia. Thus, instead of stratifying the classes to a greater extent, the different classes were able to co-exist and interact.

Later in the day, I was able to give a presentation on one of the oldest cults. Here, I was best able to utilize different aspects of my liberal arts experience. I had the opportunity to practice my rhetoric by giving a public speech, classics by showing my general knowledge from my major, sociology by discussing how people were involved in the cult and why, Latin by being able to translate what was found in the mosaic, and much more. This experience has helped me to realize how much I have learned over the past four years and demonstrate how I am able to think critically even when presented with something, just previously, unseen to me.

Esparza ’19 – Rome Immersion Trip

Rome Immersion Trip – Esparza

Lucas Esparza ’19 — One of my favorite days while being in Rome was visiting Ostia Antica. The day was full of adventure from the start when we left the hotel at our usual time; we took a bus to the train station. As we tried to enter the train station, the train station workers guided us out like cattle. Little did we know there was a transportation strike that day, although it staggered our plans at the moment it was exciting to see the people at the train station get in heated discussions with frequent train users about the strike. We prevailed and found a couple of cabs for us to smash ourselves into, and we finally made it to Ostia. The city is entirely in ruins, so there is a lot of imagination that has to be used while walking around, and that was by far my favorite part. We walked around as a group visualizing what the city would have looked like when it was in action. Seeing the people walking down the cobble stone road with their donkeys carrying wheat to get ground up and made into bread on the other side of the city. As a class, we sat down and discussed what the city might have smelled, looked, and sounded like it was awesome when we all pieced together these elements of the city. We all concluded that it would have been a pretty cool place to be at the time. Later that night I went out to eat with some of the guys, and at dinner, we couldn’t stop talking about Ostia and how beautiful and amazing it was, we all wished we could have seen that style of life while is was happening. The conversation ended up drifting to the topic of Wabash, we all sat there at dinner and really took a moment to say out loud how awesome it was that our school is willing to fund experiences like this for students. I think about how I cannot wait to take this knowledge and experience that has been given to me by Wabash and continue to pass it on to the next generation of Wabash men. It is something that I believe truly changes lives, for not only the student but for his family and friends as well. I believe this because I am currently living it, Wabash has changed my life for the better. I can see it in my friends and family’s eyes when I come home for breaks how they almost can’t believe the things I’ve done. I like to think it gives them hope in believing that if someone like me who is just like them can do these things then so can they. Not only that, but they can ask me for advice on how to do and they know I’ll be happy to help. Thank you for everything, Wabash. I will never forget this experience.

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