Videos

When volunteers help connect beat cops with communities, crime often goes down

By Jasmine Cen

A beat facilitator is a volunteer who connects Chicago police officers working a beat with members of the community to help combat neighborhood violence.

Beat facilitators meet monthly with the officers to talk about safety concerns at Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meetings. The CAPS program began in 1993. More than 200 meetings happen every month. Continue reading When volunteers help connect beat cops with communities, crime often goes down

From divinity to discrimination: The story of Sikhs in America

By Nikita Mandhani

When Tarlochan Singh moved to Chicago in 1980, there weren’t many Sikhs in the city. As the only two boys who wore turbans in school, he and his brother encountered endless questions and mistreatment.

Continue reading From divinity to discrimination: The story of Sikhs in America

Pilsen gallery workshop creates grassroots artwork with a political twist

By Xiao Lyu

Artist Ellen Gradman held a special workshop that combined art with activism in Uri-Eichen Gallery in the East Pilsen Sunday Afternoon.

Dubbed as “Paper Protest”, the workshop taught people the technique of collage to translate their political ideas into artwork with simple tools and materials such as newspapers, art clips and computer printouts.

A former art teacher, Ellen Gradman has long been involved in Chicago’s education justice movement. One of her most famous pieces is a painting of the words “Every Chicago Public School is My School” layered above the city’s outline.

Photo at top: A participant is making a collage using materials such as newspapers and art clips during the Sunday workshop at Uri-Eichen Gallery. (Xiao Lyu/ MEDILL)

Palestinian music director conducts Persian Concert for packed house

By Vishakha Darbha and Hannah Gebresilassie

Emotional, passionate and a musical genius are just a few words used to describe Wanees Zarour.

Born and raised in Ramallah, Palestine, director and composer Zarour leads the Middle East Music Ensemble at the University of Chicago, which was established in 1997.

His “Persian Concert” at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts drew a packed house with over a dozen people sitting on the floor and a handful standing in the doorway to observe the Feb. 27 performance. This was the second of three Persian concerts. The third will be held in the summer.

Composer and director Wanees Zarour shares his music and his journey from Ramallah, Palestine to the United States. (Vishakha Darbha & Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)

Zarour’s journey as a musician began at seven, when he learned to play the violin in Ramallah. He moved to the United States when he was 16.

Today, Zarour primarily embeds Middle Eastern music traditions, including Arab, Turkish and Persian throughout his music. His musical expertise is evident in the way he transcribes complex pieces, including those that lack notation.

The 45-piece ensemble includes a wide range of Middle Eastern instruments, including the oud, tar, santour, sitar, setar and qanun. The ensemble is composed of community members and students, whom Wanees has been directing in the ensemble for six years.

Photo at Top: Palestinian composer and director Wanees Zarour at The Persian Concert held in Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. The concert was held on Feb. 27 (Vishakha Darbha & Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)

Third graders get real about race and guns in school program

By Jasmine Cen

With so much on the news about violence and crime in Chicago, it’s difficult to shield young people from hearing about it. But psychologists say parents and teachers should not ignore the issues, and children need to talk about what’s happening in their communities, even at a young age.

That’s the spirit behind a program at Village Leadership Academy, where six and seven-year-old students are delving into the city’s most intractable problems.


Students at the Academy recently had their third presentation of several year-long projects on topics like littering, school safety signs and unsafe driving.

This year, some of the third-grade students did research on one of Chicago’s toughest issues: gun violence.

Photo on top: The students give a presentation about their research on gun violence in their neighborhoods. (By Jasmine Cen/ Medill)

Loyola Prof Gets Up Close and Personal With Workplace Podcast

By Yunfei Zhao

If being a boss is hard enough, the presence of social media can make it even harder, according to a Loyola University podcast that aims to coach leaders in workplace collaboration and conflict resolution.

Communication style changes by the influence of advanced technology. Loyola University Chicago’s educator produced podcast to offer advice of leadership skills. (Yunfei Zhao / MEDILL; Podcast recording footage provided by Jill Geisler)

Continue reading Loyola Prof Gets Up Close and Personal With Workplace Podcast

Cantonese opera strikes a chord in Chinatown

By Vishakha Darbha

The Chicago Public Library hosts a Cantonese opera every Wednesday and Saturday, performed by the Zhaoqiu Chinese American ART Center. Opened last August, Chinatown has seen a growth in the number of new institutions, including a Park District Field House.

Chicago invested $19 Million in building the library. It is designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which also designed New York City’s One World Trade Center. This was part of the Chinatown Community Vision Plan, a step toward investing in the area. Chicago’s Chinatown is thriving, unlike others in the rest of the nation, with the population increasing by more than 25% from 2000 to 2010.

The Chinese-American community in Chicago has recently been energized by various political events. A large crowd of Asian-Americans came together to protest against NYPD officer Peter Liang’s conviction on Feb. 20, while 2nd District State Representative Theresa Mah has emerged as the first Asian-American legislator in the Illinois General Assembly.

Asian-Americans share their perception on the increasing visibility of the Chinese-American community, during a Cantonese Opera performance at the Chicago Public Library (Vishakha Darbha/MEDILL)
Photo at Top: Cantonese Opera Performer at the Chinatown Branch of the Chicago Public Library (Vishakha Darbha/MEDILL)

One bullet, two victims: Protesters rally for convicted NYPD officer

By Shanshan Wang

Thousands of people, mostly Chinese-Americans, marched in downtown Chicago Saturday, calling justice for former NYPD officer Peter Liang, who was convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a black man in 2014.

The protesters chanted along the way, holding national flags, signs and banners with slogans conveying the message that selective justice is not justice, and that Liang is a scapegoat. Many of them have been following the news and sharing the protest information on WeChat, the most popular social media platform among Chinese community.

On Saturday, throngs of protesters, many from Chicago’s Chinese American community, decried the guilty verdict in the police shooting trail of Peter Liang in New York. Liang was convicted of shooting Akai Gurley, an African American, in 2014 while on the job as a New York City cop. Many protesters said race is not an issue here and that their main appeal was to have justice in law. However, at least one black woman insisted black lives matter. (Yunfei Zhao / MEDILL)

Continue reading One bullet, two victims: Protesters rally for convicted NYPD officer

Buna: The Art of Making Ethiopian Coffee

By Hannah Gebresilassie and Vishakha Darbha

Most college students use coffee to survive long nights and tedious assignments, but in Ethiopia and Eritrea, coffee means much more than that.

Ethiopia, globally known as the birthplace of coffee, is famous for “buna,” a coffee-making ceremony that involves roasting, grinding and brewing beans while partaking in a community-oriented tradition. Proper social etiquette includes smelling the roasted beans before they are ground and having three cups of coffee with the people present.

“Abol” is the term used for the first cup, “Tona” is for the second and “Baraka” is the final cup. Sugar and salt can be added but usually not milk.

Continue reading Buna: The Art of Making Ethiopian Coffee

Museum of Science and Industry lets Kids Get Touchy-Feely — For Free — in February

By Yunfei Zhao

Where in Chicago are kids actually encouraged to touch things?

The Museum of Science and Industry is inviting Chicago-area children ages 3-11 to do just that with free admission till the end of February.

“We play a large role in the community,” said spokeswoman Renee Mailhiot, noting that a Legos exhibit is coming in March. Mailhiot said they aimed to make sure more hands-on science knowledge is accessible to everyone.

Continue reading Museum of Science and Industry lets Kids Get Touchy-Feely — For Free — in February