Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Northwestern on the Southwest Side

My feelings about the nearing end of college are not unique or original, but that's okay. I still feel anxiety, excitement and a bittersweet twinge inside when I imagine traipsing about Scott Hall's lawn following the Medill convocation. Maybe it will rain instead.

Still, how am I to know what I want to do? I write. That's something, I'm told. Professor-mentors pull me aside and tell me that I've got "it," but words of encouragement mean nothing if you don't believe it yourself--especially if you don't know what "it" is. Instead, I run from one thing to the next, hoping that something will click. If it's not service, it's narrative non-fiction. If it's not writing, it's film. If all else fails, I'll audition for the next production of Cats.

Before I collapse back into another six hours of sleep, I have to mention that my six hours on the southwest side today culminated into much more than almost two and a half hours on the road and some fruitless exploration.

Two of my groupmates in my documentary class joined me in Marquette Park today as we sought out what remained of the Muslim population there. We ended up poking our heads into a boarded up storefront whose door was open, discovered it was a "Social Club," and sat sipping tea with the owner Ah'med, a Palestinian immigrant, for almost two hours. We walked away from his shop with the beginnings of an amazing doc topic and, quite seriously, a new friend. We have made tentative plans to bring our cameras and empty stomachs for a traditional Palestinian meal at Ah'med's house during the weekend.

We were happy enough with Ah'med, but ventured on a bit further down the street to a Muslim community activism center. There we discovered yet another great topic for our film--this one involving released convicted armed robbers and murderers who have turned to the Koran for guidance as this community organization puts them on their feet. I'm basically psyched.

Can't college last forever? College makes experiences like I had today so easy to access (given that you major the right way, I suppose). I may have to work harder in my future to make these things happen in my life. But I do know that I will, no matter what I end up doing, keep seeking new these new places and people. It's what I love to do and what helps me breathe--especially when I'm anxiety-ridden about an impending job search. :)

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