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Spanish Students visit Chicago

Emilia Almaraz - Despite the unusual snowy spring weather, Spanish 202 students truly enjoyed the field trip that took them to Chicago, IL on April 11, 2007 to visit the National Museum of Mexican Arts. The museum, one of its kind in the Midwest region, holds a permanent collection that revisits the history of the Mexican nation from its inceptions to the present, including the contributions of Mexican-American communities to the national imaginary. For more than one hour, the students toured the different rooms in the building reading and taking notes from the informational panels in the walls, observing and interpreting sculptures and paintings from the different periods and civilizations that they had so far only learned from in their Spanish textbooks.

As the pictures show, students immersed themselves in the study of art artifacts, photos and installations scrutinizing the different sections of the exhibition that took them from Aztec codices to “corridos” (popular narrative songs) , “Catrinas” (skeleton of an well-dressed upper-class lady that has become an icon in Mexican culture) and postmodern video installations.

All of them have positive comments on the experience although they do not all agree on which the best part was: if Patrick Murrell found particularly interesting the art from the Civil War since, as he explains, “Mexico’s struggle for a democratic form of movement was not an easy one, and the art reflected that”, Tim Cheek’s favorite piece was Helguera’s “La leyenda de los volcanes”, “a painting about the Aztec legend of Ixta and Popo” that “tells as how two volcanoes near Mexico City were formed”. However, Ty Dougherty was “most impressed with the area concerning the Revolution as they portrayed a lot of emotion”. The only thing they didn’t seem to enjoy was the sleet and snow on our short walk from the museum to the adjacent W 18th Street where many neighborhood restaurants feature authentic Mexican cuisine. As Royal Gearhart reports, “As soon as we left Crawfordsville, the weather just got worse and worse. Snow, freezing rain, ridiculous cold: all in April. This did not affect the museum part of the trip, but it made walking through the Hispanic district nearly unbearable, especially since some guys were wearing shorts and flip-flops. This part of the trip would have been a lot more enjoyable and educational if the weather had been anywhere remotely nice”. In Andy Week’s words, “the walk to the restaurant was pure torture as all the sidewalks were completely covered with snow. The Windy City held to its name well as the wind blew piercing and cold. The restaurants fun atmosphere and incredibly huge quantity of food warmed my spirits”. And that is another point were many students agree: “the food was extremely good”, says Anthony Noles. Brad Casselman feels that he learned “just as much about Hispanic culture from walking through the neighborhood and eating at an authentic restaurant”. The overall experience is summarized by Thomas Bell who states, “the trip helped me learn more about Mexican culture. The visual artifacts made learning about Hispanic culture more enjoyable than the classroom setting”. And Pete Hewitt adds, “I think everyone enjoyed our short but fun trip to Chicago”.

Thanks Wabash for making it possible!