Last day spent in Chicago. When we all woke up that morning, we did our final packing of our "luggage!" Then we gathered all our room keys and returned it back to the front desk person and said "Thank You!"on our way down the stairs and out of the hostel's door. After taking a group picture in front of the hostel, we headed our way to Uptown. While taking the metro, I discovered that the speaker in the metro train announces if the doors open on the right or left side of the train.
When we arrived at Uptown, we met with Steve and his co-workers in their office. First, we put down our luggage in a room and went next door into their conference room. Again, we shared with them our programs, and they shared their program, AAJC (Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago), with us. After the conversation, we went outside and Steve gave us a tour in Uptown. He informed us with a lot of information about the history of Uptown. Steve told us that Uptown is a diverse cultural place that has many different ethnics of people. Although there is some discrimination happening in the neighbourhood, residents in Uptown usually have close relationships with one another. People would help each other out when needed. Although Uptown is a culturally diverse neighbourhood, it is mostly dominated by the ethnicity of Vietnamese Americans. You can tell that it is a hub/community for Vietnamese because there are many restaurants and shops that have names written in Vietnamese.
Throughout the tour, Steve also showed us a lot of graffiti and mural arts that were painted by local youth. (Now those are actually graffiti art, NOT the ones that we clear during clean-ups...) Those inspiring art pieces exhibited around Uptown have the purposes to show the local conditions of Uptown and to inspire the next generation on how to make Uptown a better neighbourhood for everyone. Back in the 1920s, Uptown used to be an entertainment district, because of the Roaring 20s. However, the 1930s Great Depression brought the business down. On the tour, Steve also took us to the street where the Uptown Theatre was located. It is the area where Charlie Chaplin, a famous comedian, used to hang out in. The tour around Uptown gave me a better understanding of the history behind it. It is a place that brings people together in a closer community, also a great place for people to hang out in. After the tour, we went to eat lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. After lunch, we realized that we ran out of time (behind schedule again) and went back to their office to get back our luggage and ran (yes, we literally ran) to the metro train station. After we get off the train and arrived at the airport, we ran again to the counter and quickly checked our luggage. Once again, we abroad on Southwest Airlines and heading back to our "home" San Francisco, on the plane we go...... So......that basically concludes the trip. My reflection about the trip... Overall, I think that the trip went pretty well, except the fact that we didn't had enough time to sleep (but it was our fault too). Also, we should have prepared more for the trip instead of planning it in the last minute. I like all the tourist attractions that we visited on the second day, although it was somewhat rushed and we were all exhausted the next day. In addition, we were mostly behind the schedule throughout the whole trip. Maybe some improvements I would suggest for the next group that goes to this trip would be to prepare more, sleep earlier, stay on time with the planned schedule. To conclude, I would give this trip a 9 out of 10. This trip provided me the chance to learn more about Chicago's transit system as well as to explore "The Windy City"!!!~~~~ It was a fun trip and I also bonded closer with my
Chinatown... We have finally made it. There are a lot of differences between our CT and their CT. Our CT is 4 by 6 blocks while their CT is an "L" shape. And their L shape CT is split into 2 CT, one old, one new. Our main purpose was to head over to Chinese American Service League (CASL). CASL is a nonprofits organization that serves its community, similar to what CCDC does. CW (founder of CASL) gave us a tour of CT. Through the tour, we learned about the importance of space that Chicago CT needs. Similar to SF, space in our CT is also important, every little space counts. He brought us to a Chinese American museum which is a sister museum to SF's CHSA. The host, Anita talked to us about the histories of CT. She also shared some inspiring words of wisdom with us. After getting a tour of CT, we went back to CASL headquarters to do a youth exchange with CASL's youth program, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC). We both shared what each of our program does. Our projects are similar because there and our projects are community based. Exploring CT was fun and great.
On the 3rd day of the trip we went to Chinatown to learn about the history and culture of the Chinese people that live in Chicago. After we arrived at CT we went right to the office of the Chinese American Service League (CASL), a similar organization as the CCDC. We were given a tour inside the office building, and learned that they have 6 different departments: Child dept, Elderly dept, Employment, Family and Community dept, Housing dept, and Special Programs. These 6 departments provide different kind of services to different age groups. Around noon time, the executive director of CASL, C.W., gave us a tour around the Chinatown area, and the Chicago Chinatown museum. During the tour, we learned and learned a lot of information and stories about the Chicago Chinatown history, for example, we’ve learned that why the Chicago Chinatown was built in a “L” shape (You won’t understand what I am talking about unless you look at the map of the Chicago Chinatown), how and why the Chinese immigrants came to the Chicago area during the early 1900s, and how the Chinese Americans fought through discrimination and became successful in the United States. About 1PM or so, C.W. treated us lunch with delicious Chinese food, and later on that afternoon, he took us to a water taxi tour from Chinatown to downtown. On late afternoon, we met with the CASL’s youth group, a similar group just like our “Adopt An Alleyway” (AAA). We talked shared about our programs with each other, and we played games with each other, we all had a lot of fun because we are all in the 2 organizations that are both helping the society, and because we all are still teenagers!!!! At the end, we shared our facebook so that we can still communicate with each other even we are in different cities. After dinner, I visited the firehouse located just right in front of the Chinatown gate. The Lieutenant of the house told me a lot of helpful information and requirements of how to be a fire fighter in the US in nowadays, motivate and gave me a sense of how to achieve my goal as being a fire fighter in the future.
Day 3 in Chicago. This morning we met a group in south Chicago called Chinese American
Service League (CASL). This organization is very similar to CCDC. They have a history of 34
years. They have six departments to provide services to different age group. Their programs
provide child care, tutoring, job training, legal clinic and they do affordable housing to help the
low and moderate income families. The executive director, C.W. gave us a tour around Chinatown.
I heard that he helped the Chinatown advocate for many things such as getting the park back and
building a library in their own community. He also brought us to the Asian American Museum,
a Chinese restaurant in the Chinatown, and the water taxi tour from Chinatown to Downtown. The Asian American Museum is a place full of amazing stories about the Chinese in Chicago, and I learned about how the Chinatown was built and why they built it like a "L" shape. The reason is Chinatown was originally built in the financial district but because of the discrimination; Chinatown moved out from that area and established the new Chinatown. The built it in a "L" shape because the discrimination never end, so built in a shape, all buildings or houses are packed together, so when something is happen to one family, the other family can come and help easily and more unite. We also met CASL youth group. They are very nice; we share our ideas and programs to each other. I really like about their dragon boat race, I think is very meaningful. This event can bring different community together and all can have fun together. I also learn that they do different advocacy and they do issues that are not only focus on one place or one topic but varied. We all having fun meeting each other and add friends to our Facebook. It's a nice day spending with them.
A day full of interest, full of pain, full of wind, full of more victory, and full of celebration. The city imposed these feelings through the day's adventures. The city's Museum of Science & Industry intrigued our minds to see transportation from the different ages and different modes. We saw the way the city was shaped through scale models and how express routes make long distance trips quicker through personal experience. It was all, but sadly a blur to me due to the fact that exhaustion knocks out the conscious out of me on the ride. Suddenly waking up to my destination shocked me and made me not think of the ride I was just on. The windy city truly showed us its strength when we biked around navy pier with full wind attacking my bare skin. During the bike trip, I noticed how that the city's water front is blocked with high speed traffic, making it seem hard to admire the beauty of the Great Lakes. A few scratches and shiver later, we completed it. A greater sense of victory was gain when we were lifted up the Willis Tower and gain 103 story views. The most amazing person during the visit was Lisa Yu. She showed so much composure and courage, facing her greatest fear of height by standing on that sky deck. Congratulation. Concluding the day, I found the city's transit could be a simpler one, but only with experience, it can be. Even though both San Francisco's and Chicago's provide similar services of public transportation but with what seems like a different and more complicated layout of routes. The city gave a unique feature with its train's elevated station which I loved because of the fact; it gave me such a nice nostalgic movie effect.
Day 2 was my favourite day out of the four. NEW would be the word I would use to describe the day. In the morning, we were super lucky that had the chance to visit the largest museum in America and its called Museum of Science & Industry. I got really open eyed that all the design in that museum was just so amazing. We visited the German submarine and learned the story behind. This was one of the things that are new to me. The second thing that was new to me was we got to bike! I’ve never been on biking ever since I came to US. I like to bike in Chicago better even though I never bike in SF. I think maybe biking in Chicago looks safer to bike in SF. When we bike along the beach, I noticed they have a lane for pedestrians, a lane for bikers, and a lane for runner. And so I enjoyed a lot while I was biking but the only bad thing was it was too windy. The third thing that is new to me was we went all the way up to 103 floors at Sears Tower to sky-deck. Just by looking out from the windows, all I can see was cars, lights and buildings which made Chicago a very flourishing and lively place. When I stepped out to that glass window, I was shaking and really afraid to look down. But yolo (you only live once) I looked down even though it’s still look scary to me; however I kept my eyes opened for like a few seconds just to enjoy the moments that I am being able to look down from 103 floors high. Just to finish it up, I love the three new things I’ve experienced and it made it an ideal day.
Waking up at 3:30 in the morning, I can barely open my eyes. However, I
am so excited and look forward to get to Chicago! I got really confused when I was looking for the places on the map I got from the metro station. Not every street is shown and we had a hard time
finding the street that our hostel was located. Instead of following the Google map, we listened to local people's advice. We decided to transfer to brown line in downtown. After we got off the brown line, we realized that we actually ended up in a different town of our hostel. It is really hard for a tourist to go around Chicago by only looking at the map. One block on the map we used is actually not one block in reality. There are a lot of streets are unshown. It is also really confusing about the “North, East, West, and South's idea that people use in Chicago. While we were waiting for the bus, we saw a lot of trash and cotton-like stuffs flying around. We saw that the trash can had no cover. The condition of the street made us feel really uncomfortable. After 4 hours of "adventure", we finally got to our hostel. In the way to our hostel, I saw that the streets in Chicago are wide, but the continental cross walk in Chicago are narrow and people always walk outside the continental cross walk. The traffic light near our hostel is blocked. It is hard for pedestrian to see the traffic signal in day time. There are lot of potential safety problem in the intersection. Even though the street conduction made me feel unsafe, the special architecture in downtown really impressed me. It is also really interesting that see the metro driving through the city above the cars. It was two different feelings of looking at the city from the train and walking on the street. When we visited the millennium park, there is a outdoor concert. People are having picnic and joking the performances. We also took a lot of great pictures there. It is a really harmony view of seeing the tourist and local resident sharing and enjoying the open space.
My trip to Chicago was the most memorable moment in 2014. Growing up, I've never travelled out of state before because my parents were always busy with work and we didn’t have the luxury to go on trips together out of state. And when I heard that we had an opportunity to go to Chicago to learn about transportation and pedestrian safety there, I was excited to go. This was an opportunity where I was able to experience something new and rewarding. Since it was my first trip out of state and my first time on the plane, I was overly anxious and excited. When I arrived at Chicago everything was
very fascinating because many things seemed foreign to me, since I am familiarized to San
Francisco, so finding out how small Chicago Chinatown was, surprised me. These moments are unforgettable and I will remember my first trip with my friends. When I look back I can reminisce how excited I was and how foreign everything was to me. I am very thankful for this opportunity to be able to travel and I look forward to going back to Chicago one day.