Wushu master brings martial arts and Chinese culture to Buenos Aires

By Carolyn Chen & Tianqi Gou
Medill Reports


Chen Min, a former national Wushu champion in China, opened a martial arts school in Buenos Aires 11 years ago.

In this video story, we see the ways Chen Min tries to create a special chemistry between Chinese and Argentine cultures — at her school and in her home.

Carola Fernández Moores contributed reporting from Buenos Aires. 

Photo at top: Children learn Wushu at Chen Min’s Wushu school in Buenos Aires. (Carolyn Chen & Tianqi Gou/MEDILL)

In the ‘City of Neighborhoods,’ a summer of fun

By Ebony JJ Curry
Medill Reports

Chicago is the third largest city in America and also one of the most visited. Last year, nearly 58 million people visited the Windy City, according to a projection by Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism bureau. Those numbers peak in the summer months.

And for locals who endure the city’s notorious winters, summer is cause for celebration. Every week is filled with boatloads of activities, events and lots of food. Chicago has often been called a “City of Neighborhoods,” and many of those communities have an annual festival in the summer months — from Uptown’s Windy City Ribfest to Hyde Park’s Bantu Fest to Pilsen’s Fiesta del Sol.  Here’s a video guide to some of what summer has to offer in Chicago.

Photo at top: Several companies offer 90-minute architecture tours on the Chicago River, with hourly departures in the summer months. Most tours depart from the Chicago Riverwalk. (Ebony JJ Curry/MEDILL)

Despite launch delay, NU undergrads plow ahead with redesign for NASA freeze-casting experiments

By Lauren Robinson
Medill Reports

Young scientists are racing to deliver by October a satellite payload of instruments to test freeze-casting — technology that could free space explorers from expensive, time-consuming deliveries of supplies from Earth.

The team of Northwestern University undergraduates building the innards for a small satellite called a “CubeSat” missed the launch window last year but are getting ready for another try.

“The sample container failed,” explains Kristen Scotti, a graduate student and mentor for SpaceICE, the initiative creating the CubeSat instrumentation to test freeze-casting for eventual manufacturing needs in space. Essentially, the glass containers for three sample suspensions were cracking, and anything less than airtight would jeopardize the freeze-casting process, dependent upon controlled temperatures and accurate readings.
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The story behind the ‘Bird City Saint’ and why the artist hopes it empowers others

By Jessy Zhou
Medill Reports

It’s common sight on murals in Chicago — a bird head on a human body, looking skyward, often accompanied by a quote. The image, called the Bird City Saint,  is a signature of Joseph “Sentrock” Perez, a muralist and sculptor who moved to Chicago from Arizona to pursue a career as a full-time artist.

Sentrock’s “birdman” appears on several murals in Pilsen, where he wants his work to empower teens in the neighborhood by lifting their spirits. “I feel like my work  gives hope,” said Sentrock in the video story below. “A lot of the characters, they’re like striving for more, they’re looking up to the sky, and they really need something to feel uplifting.”

Photo at top: Sentrock standing in front of a mural with a Bird City Saint image in Pilsen. (Courtesy Sentrock Studio)

College athletes tackle mental health

By Max Goodman
Medill Reports

Take a moment and think about the amount of responsibilities that are on any college varsity athlete’s plate…

These student athletes have a full slate of practices, games, classes, assignments and meetings on a daily basis. Not to mention seeking out sleep, a social life, relationships, family matters and time to just relax.

On this episode of Medill Newsmakers we take a deep look at how these busy, high pressure and often overwhelming schedules impact the mental health of these young adults.

Photo at top: Kiley Jones, pitcher on the Loyola Ramblers softball team, smiles while examining the diamond. (Kiley Jones/@kileyjones00 on Instagram)

Darting Ahead: Windy City Darters hopes to help grow the game in the USA

By Tim Hackett
Medill Newsmakers

The game of darts is changing. It’s grown into a worldwide spectator sport attracting thousands of fans, and the popularity of the sport is surging in Europe and in other parts of the world. But that surge has yet to really take hold here in the United States, where professional darts is an afterthought and amateur darts is uncommon.

But there are efforts to grow this sport across the country, and some of those efforts have roots right here in Chicago. In this episode of Medill Newsmakers, we clear up some confusion about the great game of darts, and introduce you to some players who are trying to bring this game into the forefront.

Game on.

Photo at top: Mark Gillespie lines up a throw in a Windy City Darters Open League match at The Garage on a Monday night in May.

Swimming with the trash

By Stephanie Fox
Medill Reports

Only days after his 51st birthday, Ben Lecomte found himself miles off the coast of Tokyo, swimming next to a small boat filled with scientists, a doctor and a film crew. Everyone on the vessel watched in awe as Lecomte finished his 8 hours in the water that day–a feat he would repeat multiple times over the next 6 months as he approached his final North American destination.

His goal? To swim from Tokyo to San Francisco as a fundraising tool to raise awareness about pollution in the ocean. But irreparable damages to the boat’s mainsail caused his trip to be cut short, forcing him to stop in Hawaii.

That was last summer. Continue reading

Indiana kids meet an opossum, a skunk and an owl. Oh,my.

By Stephanie Fox
Medill Reports

Sitting cross legged on the floor, a group of children smiled excitedly as a small creature walked up to each of their feet, wiggled its nose and moved on. The children’s hands fidgeted in their laps, itching for a chance to touch an animal that most people are terrified to even look at.

“Can I pet her?” one of the smaller girls asked as the creature waddled out of the semi-circle the children had formed.

A child watches as Toona the opossum explores. (Stephanie Fox/Medill)

“No. We’re not going to pet her,” said Nicole Harmon, who has the title of “humane educator” at the Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Valparaiso, Indiana. The center falls under a parent organization called Humane Indiana which initially only took in domestic animals until July of 2014 when it decided to expand to accommodate the large number of calls received about injured wildlife.

As Harmon spoke, she walked over and scooped up the wandering opossum from the floor and cradled it like a baby. Continue reading

Transgender woman challenges South Africa to open a new conversation about LGBTQ+ discrimination

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports


According to a recent government study,  three million South Africans present themselves in a gender-non-conforming way. But in the city of Johannesburg, the LGBTQ+ community continues to struggle for acceptance.

In South African society, stereotypes and expectations of masculinity are deeply ingrained, and identities that don’t exist on the binary—or sexualities that are anything other than straight—are not widely accepted. Although the South African constitution says “the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, sexual orientation…” the LGBTQ+ community still faces prejudice.

Nicole Louw is a transgender female photographer, model and rugby player. She  grew up as a heterosexual, masculine man. She says as a transgender woman, she still has had relationships with gay men, as well as gay women. However, she says, heterosexual men and women still treat her differently. Continue reading

Soldier Field 10 Mile race kicks off running season from 50 yard line

By Nicole Croteau
Medill Reports

Kicking off the start of running season, RAM Racing held its Soldier Field 10 Mile race where runners start and finish at the 50 yard line.

The annual race on Memorial Day weekend is open to all runners at all levels. Starting on the famous field, the course then guides runners by the lakefront, through the city and back.

Each runner had a unique story and motivation that inspired them to join the race.

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