So far we have gotten the opportunity to explore some parts of downtown Chicago, work in a soup kitchen and help brighten the facilities here at this Spiritan community. Yesterday afternoon after some painting and soup kitchen work, a group of us meandered down the street and through the surrounding neighborhoods. This walk (which ended up being about a five mile exploration) took us through several different neighborhoods and eventually onto the campus of the University of Chicago.
This walk was very eye opening to me in that I was surprised by how accurate the descriptions of Chicago have been. Prior to coming here, I was told that each neighborhood is very different and very distinct. Walking just a few miles through these neighborhoods, this is something that was definitely observed. I have never before been to a community where the neighborhoods were so distinct from one another. In each neighborhood we came across different people willing to help our little tourist group find our way. In addition, the wide array of architecture that was seen was incredible. It varied from large, gated mansions to cute little townhouses and unique apartment complexes.
These trips that Duquesne University offers to its students are often considered to be just mission trips. However, they are more than mission trips, they are to get the students to experience new communities of people in new and different places. This is what that walk was for me. The majority of the students on the trip (as far as I noticed) have not been to Chicago before, or at least to this part of Chicago. It is eye opening in that it is so unique, with so many distinct neighborhoods in one area. To me, this is such an important part of the overall experience. It is about learning about the different communities of our country, learning new ways of working together and how we can offer our own gifts up to others. Walking the neighborhoods and talking with people is a much better learning tool than sitting in the classroom.
Duquesne is a unique school for providing these kinds of opportunities, and even on this fourth day of the trip I am so grateful for yet another new opportunity.