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by Jasmin Villasenor, North Chicago Community High School, Class of 2017
Everyone knows about Chicago. Along with Los Angeles and New York City, it is one of those places many people wish to visit one day. Even after living nearby for over a decade and taking numerous trips to Chicago, I didn’t find this place as captivating or dazzling as people might when visiting for the first time. For school field trips, I had gone to museums, zoos, and even the Navy Pier for a boat ride. With my family, I went to parks, festivals, shops, restaurants, and the usual visits to relatives. Spending so much time there, I didn’t stop to see the public artwork around or wonder why it was there in the first place. Honestly, I never needed to know much about Chicago, and I guess that’s why I never bothered. The Schuler exposure to the National Museum of Mexican Art changed my perspective.
Going to the museum really opened up my eyes to my surroundings. The explanations about the murals around the city that our Scholar Coach, Evy Fraga, stopped us to see, left me astounded. To think, if I had been on any other trip before then, I would have passed these paintings and never thought twice about them. Now, when I pass the murals I know why they were painted.
After walking around to see the murals and eating lunch, we finally went to the museum. Walking at our own pace, we explored different artwork. My favorite was the Inside Out exhibit. The exhibit was basically graffiti on the walls which may shock people, but graffiti is art, and it’s surreal that such a grand museum like the National Museum of Mexican Art allowed people to actually paint on the walls. On top of this, I also loved the Day of the Dead exhibit. Halloween is so different from the celebration of honoring deceased ancestors, and to see the museum displaying how religion plays a role in the celebration is wonderful.
Culture is so important to any individual. It’s a part of what makes us who we are. Yo soy mexicana, I am Mexican. The museum showed me a lot about my roots. I do live in America, and I’ve been influenced by other cultures, but I have influenced others too. Isn’t that how the United States works? A mix of ideas, cultures, and opinions makes the nation so diverse. Exploring other cultures or even your own can open your eyes more to what is around you. Who truly are the people living in or around Chicago? They are an influence on the city. No matter our culture, age, size, or religion, all of us have made Chicago the busy and beautiful place it is today.
It took me one exposure after ten years of living nearby to actually appreciate Chicago. That afternoon was amazing. We had delicious food at Nuevo Leon, got to see deeper into Chicago, and best of all, the people on the exposure made the day more memorable. We even got a good story to tell about how we were stuck in the middle of a funeral procession on our way home. Chicago has to have a reason for being such a well-known city, and it has finally left an impression on me.