Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 1: Chicago

Despite the rain, we had an awesome learning experience here in the Windy City. Our first stop was the Hellenic Museum. Although still under construction, we got to be the first school group to go through. We learned that there are more Greek Orthodox Churches in Illinois than in IA, MO, MI, IN, and WI altogether. The first group of Greeks that came to Chicago came by ship in the 1840's. In 1910, Chicago was the largest community on the west side "Delta." The Dove ice cream bar was started by a little boy whose father got upset for paying money for extra things that he already had in his own shop. We learned about a very influencial woman named, Jane Adams, a mother figure to the men who had to leave their wives over in Greece due to lack of money. She started the Hull House, which was a meeting place for the men to eat dinner, talk, and to take care of them. Good food and gatherings were very important to them and still are today. Each year they have a Greek Picnic which is held at the church with food, dancing, and celebrating their culture.
Another stop was the Islamic Center where Dr. Sabeel shined much needed light on this greatly misunderstood religion. We learned that like Christianity they have a day of worship. Instead of being Sunday, they come together on Fridays, also known as the Juma Prayer. Islam in the fastest growing religion in the world today. There are a total of 11 million in the United States with 50,000 converting every year. The Quran is the primary source of Islamic law for Muslims. It is written in Arabic. An interesting fact that we learned is there are 11 million people memorize the Quran. There are 5 pillars of Islam: Declaration of faith, prayer 5 times a day, charity, month of fasting, and pilgrimage. We learned that when they pray 5 times a day they do so before sunrise, early afternoon, late afternoon, after sunset, and right before bed. The 5th pillar is pilgrimage where they travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. This is where they come together in unity for atleast 10 days or longer as they so choose. The porpose of life is TO WORSHIP THE CREATOR (anything to please God). The biggest thing that we walked away with from the Islamic Center is that all faiths have extremes and we should not judge them by the radicals.
The Field Museum, although the usual stop for most tourist, does not get the respect that it deserves. Walking in you already have many exhibits to choose from, including the African Safari. In the African Safari it had anywhere from the clothes they wore, to the pottery they made, and the hardships they went through including salvery. The most interesting thing that we learned is that the boudires between the old generation and the new generation is no different from in America. Tabaski is an important holiday in Africa where everyone dresses up in their best. The woman wear their grand boubou-a huge, richly hued, flowing robe that is heavily embroidered. While the older women decided to wear head cloths to cover their hair. The younger women do not to show off the modern hair dos.

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