WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Three Whitman students spent eight weeks this summer studying, learning and stepping out of comfort zones in Chicago while attending the Chicago Urban Studies Program at the Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture.

“Chicago Communities and Cultures” took students to a variety of neighborhoods as part of the center’s core experience designed to introduce students to the ethnic, religious, racial and economic diversity of the city’s populations. “Chicago Center took us to events we would never consider going to and forced us out of our comfort zone,” said Joyana Peterson ’10. “They taught us to see beyond what meets the eye.”

Peterson, Sarah Trowbridge ’10 and Shana Heavey ’09, worked at separate internships, but they all participated in the seminar on Chicago communities. Chicago Center is recognized nationwide as a leader in experiential learning, a direction shared by Whitman and other leading liberal arts colleges, and is designed to strengthen students’ professional development, critical thinking skills and personal growth.

Peterson interned at The Environmental group, an interior design firm that specializes in corporate offices. She gained experience in interior design, she said, which is not offered at Whitman, making her experience “rewarding and valuable.”

Trowbridge interned in the Mexican Neighborhood of Pilsen at Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, where she filmed and screened a documentary. “Pollution in Pilsen” focused on a low-income Chicago neighborhood that faces some of the heaviest pollution in the country.

Heavey, who interned at the national headquarters of the Rainbow Push Coalition, said she learned about the “behind the scenes” process of a non-profit organization. “After graduation, I hope to work at a non-profit and apply the skills I obtained this summer.”

Students in Chicago Urban Studies Program live in the “beautiful and diverse” Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, where they share furnished apartments with typically two to three other students, said Keith Zabel, marketing assistant at the Chicago Center. Utilities and a grocery charge account are provided as part of the program.

In addition to the eight-week summer session, the Chicago Center program operates during academic semester, said Zabel, and education majors can complete student teaching requirements by participating in the Teach Chicago! Program. For more information,  contact the Chicago Center at www.chicagocenter.org.



Lenel Parish
Whitman College News Service