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Best of the Week 2019-2020: Excellence in College Prep


Last week, Ted Cawley '22, James Elios '22, Mateo McBride '21, Sean Mulloy '21, and Demis Salivaras '23 went on a cultural immersion to learn how Latino culture is represented in Chicago. The Latino neighborhoods of Chicago emulate the feel and environment of the original neighborhoods in Latin America and provided students with more insight about the cultural representation of the Latino community in America. "As a department, we work hard to teach about culture by reading articles, looking at art, etc. but culture is a human experience and as such, it is better to understand it by seeing it live, by trying the food and walking around neighborhoods, involving all your senses and immersing yourself into it," says Mrs. Lisa Hardin, Language Acquisition Department Chair. "Chicago is a very diverse place that offers a lot of different experiences. We hope that this trip sparked in our students a curiosity and love for learning and understanding new traditions and lifestyles."

During their visit, students ate at Cafecito, a small Cuban coffeehouse and cafe, and 5 Rabanitos, an authentic Mexican restaurant with cuisine prepared by Chef Alfonso Sotelo. Students also toured the National Museum of Mexican Art, visiting their annual Day of the Dead exhibit, decorated with ornate altars to honor deceased loved ones for the October holiday, and the museum's permanent exhibits that displayed pre-Columbian and modern art from Mexico and Spain. "I really enjoyed experiencing the art and helping students look at pieces with historical context to better understand the messages the artists are trying to convey," says Mrs. Hardin. Students also walked through the museums' "mercado de artesanías" where the artists were selling their handicrafts and then toured the neighborhood of Pilsen, known for its Hispanic murals that decorate walls around every street corner. "We think it's important to prepare our students for the future by helping them navigate a global and diverse world and be agents of change and innovation," says Spanish teacher Mrs. Mariana Martinez. "This trip allowed students to look at the world from a different point of view."

In addition to seeing some of Chicago's staple landmarks like Millenium Park, the Cloud Gate and the historic Water Tower, students also took advantage of their trip and attended an Open House at Loyola University Chicago. "Chicago has a lot to offer college students," says Mrs. Hardin. "We felt that taking the time to visit Loyola University was a great way for students to start seeing themselves in a college setting and to motivate them to continue exploring their options for the future." Students were able to tour Loyola's campus, attend a department fair where they connected with representatives of the university's many disciplines, and visit the university's Institute of Environmental Sustainability which houses a student-run biodiesel production lab. Students learned how this lab provides biodiesel for the university's campus shuttles and biosoap for the entire campus in addition to how their aquaponic systems assist with urban agriculture. "The visit to Loyola University offered our students the chance to think about their futures and to see firsthand the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation," says Mrs. Martinez. "This trip contributed to our St. Ed's goal of excellence by offering our students a chance to learn about culture outside their comfort zones, to explore a new city and its environment, and to tour a university they might not have visited otherwise," says Mrs. Hardin.

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