On June 10th, 15 recent college graduates moved to Chicago to begin their service with the Inner-City Teaching Corps’s Volunteer Teaching Corps. ICTC Recruitment Director Jim Conti contributed this post introducing the newest members of one of ICTC’s communities.
They came from across the country, and from universities like Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame, and Georgetown University. They moved in to two communities located on Chicago’s South and West sides and began their training as teachers at Northwestern University, including practice teaching at summer schools throughout the city.
One of these communities is located at Our Lady of Charity School and Parish.
Here, seven teachers have taken up residence. The converted convent now offers living and work space for the residents in their beginning days as teachers.
Tracey, Tim, Brit, Katie, Saul, Ty, and Andrea share cooking and cleaning responsibilities, organize commutes in their three cars, and are beginning to get to know each other. To understand a little bit better what their lives are like as they begin their time with ICTC, I spend an evening with these seven teachers.
After a dinner consisting of four different kinds of quesadillas, rice, beans, and dessert, Tracey, Brit, and Ty sit down to share some of their thoughts on their summer so far.
What do you do on a typical evening this summer?
“Summer evenings consist of a little bit of down time right after school,” Tracey says.
“Sometimes it might be a walk with a roommate or sitting on the roof and enjoying the breeze. I always enjoy dinner with my roommates and spending extra time after we’re finished eating to chat and avoid the inevitable lesson planning. Eventually I spend some time prepping for the next day of summer school.”
Brit chimes in, “Yeah, it really depends on the day and how much work I have to do.”
Ty points out the special importance of community dinner. “Typically we share our highs and lows of the day,” Ty says. “And this is a very meaningful part of the day. The dinner table is a very open forum to voice concerns, successes and failures of the day. The best part is that you have a community you can open up to that will support you and give you honest input and advice. There is great relief in knowing that everyone is having the same experiences as you; that your community members can really relate to you.”
What is your life looking like this summer?
All three laugh.
“Busy but AMAZING! During the week,” Brit answers, “we get up pretty early each morning, go teach summer school and then go to classes for Northwestern. When we get home we have dinner together and then do work. Around 9:30 or 10 p.m. we hang out and watch TV for a little bit before going to bed. On the weekends we usually try to get together with the other first year VTC community, St. Simon, and do something fun.”
Tracey echoes Brit’s sentiment. “Definitely busy, but I feel more productive this summer than any other summer, which is a good feeling.”
Ty summarizes his life well, as Tracey and Brit agree: “The experiences I’ve had so far have proven themselves meaningful already. I’m learning a lot about myself, other people, Chicago, and the greater world. This summer has been productive, meaningful and a learning process. All in all, the experience thus far has been incredibly rewarding.”
What small things do you do each evening to get to know your housemates?
Smiling, Tracey reflects, “We spend a lot of time at the dinner table chatting, even after the meals are over, and have some great chats.”
Ty concurs, “I’ve learned the most about my housemates at the dinner table, and I think they’ve gotten to know me at that same venue.”
Brit agrees as well, but brings up another good point. “The time we spend in the car is awesome. We have a lot of fun in the morning on the way to school trying to find songs to get us pumped up for the day, or just telling stories.”
What is a favorite thing about the summer so far?
Ty is the first to respond. “My favorite thing about the summer so far is getting to experience first-hand everything the VTC has to offer. The experience of teaching and volunteering has been personally very rewarding, and getting to know my housemates in community has been a great experience. Everyone is incredibly kind and conscientious in Chicago, and as a whole, the city has a really positive energy about it.”
Brit and Tracey echo many of Ty’s thoughts. “I love all of the time I spend with my community! I love teaching, but I especially enjoy getting to know the people who I live with and doing random fun things to try to unwind from the day.”
“I have loved attending free festivals in the city with my housemates. We’re already learning how to get some serious bang for our buck. There’s so much to do in Chicago, and a lot of it is very affordable, often free! It’s easy to find a fun place to go.”
What has been most challenging so far?
Brit first thinks to her time in community so far. “It is amazing to be surrounded by so many great people, but it is hard to adjust to being around people ALL THE TIME. It can make it really hard to get work done some nights when everyone else is having so much fun.”
Tracey thinks back to college, stating that, “Trying to keep up with friends from college and from home when you’re really busy and caught up in the excitement of a new city is really tough.”
Looking more at the entire experience, Ty adds, “The most difficult thing so far has been the day in, day out work. Teaching requires a lot of preparation like lesson plans, gathering materials, and coming up with creative ideas for engaging students’ interest. The transition from teaching summer school to Northwestern classes can sometimes be difficult. After all, how many people can say they have been both a teacher and a student every day?! The fatigue can sometimes set in, but you’ll always have a community member with a good laugh or story that will brighten your day and give you a sense of refreshment.”
With the conclusion of the interview, Tracey, Brit, and Ty head off to prepare for the coming day. They have a few more hours of work left to go before bed, but there is a positive air amongst them and their other housemates as they set about the challenging and important work in front of them.