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Episode 2 – The Young Writers of 826CHI

February 12, 2009

Click here to listen to Episode 2 of Chicago Story (Note: Do not play via Snapshots preview window; just click on the link!)

Are you ready to hear from the next generation of Chicago’s literati?

‘Chicago Story’ visited 826CHI, a tutoring and creative writing center for kids K-12, to chat with the newest crop of Windy City writers.

826CHI, a Chicago-based tutoring and creative writing center

826CHI, a Chicago-based tutoring and creative writing center

We talked with four 826CHI students about their stories, their creative processes, and how the tutoring center has helped them discover the power – and fun – of writing.

They represent the next guard of Chi-town scribes, and decades from now, you can say you heard them when, here at ‘Chicago Story.’

(To learn more about 826CHI, visit their website at www.826CHI.org.)

Click here to listen to the episode! (Note: Do not play via Snapshots preview window; just click on the link!)

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Below are transcripts of the stories read in Episode 2 of ‘Chicago Story’ with corresponding author photos:

“[Untitled Election Day Speech]” by Mason (5th grade)

Students, friends, countrymen; lend me your ears. Today is a day of importance, liberty, and pride. Today is the day I vote, you vote, and we vote.  We have voted, and now we wait.  Today we are Americans. It doesn’t matter who you voted for: Obama/Biden, McCain/Palin, or some other third person.  What matters is that you voted, and that’s what counts because if things don’t go your way, you won’t have a say because you didn’t vote. That’s the most important thing: voting. It’s been an American tradition since George Washington, which, by the way, is 220 years.  This is my first time voting, and I will vote many more times in mock elections and, in eight years, the real election. If you haven’t voted, vote. If you can’t vote, ask your parents to vote for your person.  Please, tutors; open up your ballot and vote.  Thank you for your time.

Mason

Mason

“Coffee” by Sarah (9th grade)

A man wearing a dark trench coat emerges through the diners’ doors, soaked from the pouring rain.  He walks to the counter and sits down. He orders a cup of coffee. Decaf. He sits alone. The rain is like a swarm outside as he sits and observes his surroundings. There is a neon sign in the window that flickers each time a car drives by in the gushing storm. There are checkered tiles on the walls and wallpaper that can only be found in cheap hotel rooms.

Before he can think about what he sees, a loud crash comes from the kitchen. The man turns his head to see two waiters standing, wearing aprons and paper hats. One is furious. He flails his arms in the air. He is yelling. The other stands in disbelief as he stares down at a broken cup that once held an almost perfect cup of decaf coffee.

Sarah

Sarah

“The Crazy Old House and the Ugly Lady” by Tania (5th grade)

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Samuel. He went to a crazy house. When he went to that house, there was a lady who had a big nose, and she had ugly teeth. And she had bugs in her hair. Her name was Marilyn. Samuel tried to get away from the lady. He packed all his stuff and he ran out, crazy, screaming. The lady, Marilyn, went to go follow Samuel and tried to kiss him. Samuel packed his stuff in his car when he saw Marilyn. Marilyn tried to hug him and kiss him, but Samuel got in his car and drove as fast as he could. Samuel was happy because he didn’t like Marilyn.

Suddenly, Marilyn was in the back of the car. Marilyn jumped. Samuel drove to the crazy house. When he went to the crazy house, he locked all the doors and the windows. Marilyn was waiting outside the crazy house. Samuel was inside the house. When he tried to sit down in the chair, the chair moved, and Samuel fell down.

Tania

Tania

“The Perfect Quinceañera [excerpt]” by Reina (11th grade)

The ambulance comes by and takes Julian. He is alive but in a critical condition. The cops come to interrogate Pablo. I go to the hospital to see Julian. I walk back and forth in the waiting room, waiting for the news. After a while, the doctor comes out and says that Julian is in a coma. Everyday, I visit him in the hospital. I know he can hear me so I tell him how much I love him.

Pablo doesn’t talk to me anymore. He has held a grudge against me since I chose Julian over him.

Three months later, Julian hasn’t woken up yet, and I am feeling horrible for denying him every time he showed me that he loved me. Then, one day when I am visiting him, his fingers move. I run to the doctor; the doctor says that it is a good sign of him recovering from the coma.

Most of my neighbors notice my grief. They ask me how I can be unhappy when my birthday is coming up soon, and I am going to be fifteen. I tell them it is because I love Julian, and now he is in a coma, and anyway, I hadn’t planned to have a Quinceañera. What I don’t know is that my neighbors are planning one for me, and everyone from my block is pitching in.

Finally, the big day is here: my Quinceañera. I decide not to have a chambelan, an escort, because nobody can replace my Julian so it is an awkward Quinceañera for many people.  I come down the stairs in my puffy, elegant, white dress. I look like a princess. Everybody at the party admires my beauty, but inside I feel torn up. I only need one thing to make this Quinceañera perfect: Julian. Everybody is having fun, dancing, eating, and talking while I’m feeling gloomy.

Then I see something amazing. I see Julian. I run to him and hug him. I ask him how he got here and when he had woken up. I have so many questions. He puts a finger close to my mouth, telling me to be quiet, and steals a kiss.

I don’t refuse.

Reina

Reina

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Chicago-based tutoring and creative writing center, 826CHI

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‘Chicago Story’ Episode 1 – Photographer Michael Wolf

December 7, 2008

Click here to listen to Episode 1 of Chicago Story

For the first episode of “Chicago Story,” we interviewed photographer Michael Wolf. Our mission is to bring you Chicago, one storyteller at a time. So why did we pick a photographer based in Hong Kong to lead us off?

Wolf’s latest exhibition, The Transparent City, peers through the windows of Chicago skyscrapers to the unassuming inhabitants inside. With Wolf’s glimpses of Chicagoans at work, at home, worried, unruly, gathered with friends, or alone and indifferent, he sheds light on an intriguing aspect of the city’s story by exploring who Chicago is when we think no one’s looking.

(see more at Mr. Wolf’s website and the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s website)

Click here to listen to Episode 1 of Chicago Story