Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Making Connections in Pilsen - A Local Field Trip

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is having the opportunity to visit interesting places in our community and beyond at times when it is most convenient for us. We have wonderful museums in Chicagoland and it is great to visit them on "off" days when there is less traffic (people and cars) to negotiate. 

We recently visited the National Museum of Mexican Art located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The Pilsen neighborhood has historically been a neighborhood of immigrants. The Mexican population of Pilsen grew in the 1980s and the National Museum of Mexican Art was founded during that decade.The museum is a beautifully curated museum with more art, culture and history than can be absorbed in one day. 

With two students currently studying Spanish and an exchange student from Mexico staying with us this year, the museum offered a local opportunity to share cultures. Touring the museum with our exchange student allowed us to expand our connection in a unique way. Despite a full nine months of living together, it seems we are all still just beginning to incorporate our understanding of the deep cultural connections between our two countries.

Museum gift shops are the best!
The National Museum of Mexican Art gift shop
was a delightful part of the visit. 

Photos were a part of our own artistic
response to the Pilsen neighborhood.
Making connections is what learning is all about.

Gotta eat lunch,
so we sampled the local cuisine.

In our family, every field trip requires a meal. We sampled the local cuisine in the neighborhood and were not disappointed. Sharing a meal brings people together and sharing cultures includes food. The way to a man's (or woman's) heart.... 

Making connections through art is less immediate and perhaps a little more intellectual then a meal but one that can also contribute to bringing us closer together. Despite our different backgrounds, our universal interests in food, art, sport and music have a way of bringing us together. Expressing diverse ideas can happen more easily and naturally over a mutually enjoyed interest. Sharing unique aspects of our own cultures within the framework of our common interests can be some of our most enjoyable experiences with each other.

Avo and Sammie performing with students
at DePaul University
Though we didn't have an opportunity for a shared musical experience on this trip, it did bring us full circle back at home with the opportunity to listen to Latin inspired music and percussion.

The Pilsen neighborhood includes an important connection in our family for my husband, Avo. We saw the area that is referenced in an album written and produced by Avo, and his friend Sammie Torres, "Passing Through Pilsen". Sammie grew up in Pilsen and was influenced and taught by several generations of talented musicians living there. Avo and Sammie have a shared enthusiasm for percussion that transcends and celebrates both of their diverse immigrant Chicago backgrounds. Hopefully, our next visit to Pilsen will include live musical art, as well as, the visual and culinary. Until then we'll be listening at home. And I'll be providing the mandatory motherly embarrassment by dancing!

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