All posts by yichenzhang

Columbia College students use art to fuel activism, voting

By Sophie Zhang

While voters across the nation cast Super Tuesday ballots, Columbia College Chicago students merged their artistic talent with political activism through a free poster giveaway depicting candidates in the 2016 presidential election.

The Art + Activism student group provided potential young voters with detailed voting information and tries to persuade people to register to vote. To capture their peers’ attention, organizers gave out 10 posters that mimic the style of artist Shepard Fairey’s iconic Barack Obama poster, according to Lane Hedler, president of the organization.

“This year’s election is kind of theatrical and the candidates are kind of wild and have their own personalities. We want to utilize that to spark this conversation among young people about the election,” said Emily Gallaugher, member of the project.
Continue reading

Loyola students tie blankets to protect homeless people against cold weather

By Sophie Zhang

More than 30 students joined Habitat for Humanity’s Loyola University branch  Feb. 24 to make fleece blankets for homeless people struggling to make it through yet another Chicago winter.

“One day I actually saw somebody using one of our blankets near Grant Park, and I felt like we were really doing something for them and the experience was really special,” said Khateeb Raza, president, whose organization gave out more than 20 blankets in 2015.

All the blankets were made using Loyola’s colors, maroon and gold.

“We want them to show some Loyola love and create a bonding”, said Alanna Kerstein, who helped organize the event.

An estimated 140,000 homeless people live in Chicago, according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Statewide, 48,000 people are served in government-funded shelters each year.

Photo at top: Loyola’s Habitat for Humanity members believe the small effort of making and providing blankets helps people be aware of the living situation of homeless people in the city. (Sophie Zhang/MEDILL)

Illinois students rally for MAP grants (video)

By Sophie Zhang


tudents from about 15 universities and colleges gathered in front of the Thompson Center downtown Tuesday to demand Gov. Bruce Rauner fund a widely used grants program that serves low-income students in Illinois.

Because of lack of funding, the state currently doesnt have a budget for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) for 2016. The Illinois General Assembly passed the bill SB2043 to pay for the MAP, but the governor said he would veto it.

Over the past 50 years, MAP has provided higher-education grants to Illinois residents from low-income families. About 128,000 students received MAP in 2015, according to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.


Photo at top: The need-based MAP grant aims to insure all Illinois residents receive educational opportunities. (Sophie Zhang/MEDILL)


Community efforts encourage Chicago’s Chinese to vote

By Sophie Zhang

Debbie Liu spends a lot of time talking to people in Chinatown, trying to get traditionally reluctant residents to register to vote.

“Asians have a traditionally lower than average voting habit,” said Liu, community development coordinator at the Coalition for A Better Chinese American Community, which has been mobilizing Chinese voters since 2000.

Every year, the organization aims to register new voters within the Greater Chinatown Area, which extends from Armour Square to Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Brighton Park and the South Loop. The Asian population in that area reached 28,000 in 2010, reported the U.S. Census Bureau, and is comprised mostly of people of Chinese descent.

Continue reading

Chinatown reflects on its 100-year history through public art

By Sophie Zhang

Red and yellow pigment splashes above glittering glass mosaic on two Chinatown murals, connects dozens of photos featuring residents to the body of a huge dragon sculpture.

Under the Metra railroad bridge on Archer Avenue, these murals commemorate the 100th year of Chinatown. To integrate the ancient and the modern, artists applied Chinese traditional painting techniques with the use of glass and 3D sculpture.

About 100 people attended a dedication ceremony Jan. 23. More than 40 photos about the community and its people – not all Chinese – are imbedded onto the wall that also functions as a timeline of Chinatown’s history.

Continue reading