My placement in Albany Park for the Urban Program was an exciting balance of exploration and anticipation of the unknown. Going in to the experience, I had a very different idea of how things would actually go down while completing my student teaching. I did not anticipate truly being able to go out and explore the city and neighborhoods, but am so thankful that I allowed myself the time to do more beyond school-related tasks. For me, learning about the city itself as well as finding my space within it was truly a highlight of my Urban Program experience.
The host culture:
My favorite part of the host culture was going to diverse restaurants throughout the city and neighborhoods and immersing myself into that specific culture through their foods and atmospheres. Stepping into restaurants that I had not yet been to took me to different parts of the world in ways I had not experienced. Finding new places to eat and frequent were exciting and interesting as I enjoy trying new foods but also gaining a new respect for authentic interactions with all that I encountered.
The most challenging part of my living location was learning how to navigate from where I was to various parts of the city. This was an initial challenge that I overcame quickly and became confident in- with such an awesome public transit system it was important to me to learn how to confidently use as I was using it daily. The most challenging part of teaching in my host location was acclimating to a classroom that was not using a mandated curriculum—this was daunting at first, but turned into a wonderful learning opportunity. I was able to find new resources to supplement the Common Core State Standards which was a valuable thing to learn- navigating and finding appropriate resources.