Intro: First-Year Humanities Fellows Immersion – Chicago

Greetings and salutations! I’m Rachel McCarthy, a first-year English writing major hailing from Riverside, Illinois. I’m also a First-Year Humanities Fellow, a brand-new program here at IWU that brings together a dynamic group of students with a love for anything humanities-related, such as English, anthropology, theater, or political science. Throughout the year, we’ve been participating in a series of interdisciplinary events, talking with guest presenters and faculty members who work in the humanities, going off-campus to events such as the Chicago Humanities Festival, and reflecting as a group on the real-world value of a liberal arts education. Best of all, since this is a new program for Illinois Wesleyan, our input has been pivotal in shaping how it will grow in the coming years. It’s pretty neat, to say the least.

Our trip to Chicago will be our group’s biggest humanities experience, consisting of a five-day trip to Chicago, where we will be travelling to main cultural icons around the city. We’ll be visiting places such as the Harold Washington Library, the Jane Addams Hull House, and Chicago History Museum, accompanied by outside reading and class discussion. We’ll also see performances at Second City, The Goodman Theater, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition, we’ll have the opportunity to meet with several alums who graduated from IWU with degrees in the humanities and are now enjoying successful, gratifying careers. All of this is in preparation for a presentation about the importance of the humanities on an interdisciplinary level, which we’ll give at an undergraduate research conference at the end of the year.

What gets me excited about this trip in particular is the opportunity for in-depth, thought-provoking discussions with my classmates in a setting that’s more liberating than a traditional classroom. We’re a very cohesive group, and sparks are always going off in our discussions. I really couldn’t ask for a group of more insightful individuals to share in this kind of engaging learning experience. I hope that as we further explore topics surrounding race, art, and history in the context of the city of Chicago, you’ll discover something new to appreciate about the humanities, too!

– Rachel McCarthy ’21

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