Summer’s up and I’m Westbound

It’s been a summer full of transitions now that I’m an official alumni of DePaul University. I’ve spent a lot of time in Northern Illinois learning about rural politics, urban sprawl and natural area restoration at Small Waters.
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North of the Fox River, just a block away from the small and well-preserverd downtown area.

North of the Fox River, just a block away from the small and well-preserverd downtown area.

I’ve also spent time some learning about  the village of Oswego, my new parents home located 40 miles West of Chicago. Named after Native American tribe that favored the smooth limestone banks of the Fox River, the artery of Oswego,  for crossing and fishing.  In the 1830s, immigrants from New Yorkers settled the land for economic interests associated with the  convenient ford on the river.  Remnants of old mills, railroads and farms along river seem to contradict the rampant influx of population and shopping centers in the 10 last year. When my parents moved to Oswego in 2005, the  population was at 10,000 . Today it nears 32,000.

 I spent the last leg of my summer in Montreal, visiting my older brother. The city’s, like the rest of Quebec’s,  first language is French. I wish I learned more French phrases before arriving, and couldn’t help but to respond in Spanish when I felt frazzled. I fell in love with the fresh produce markets in Little Italy, the culture of cycling and bicycle taxis, public art and graffiti, French indie rock and espresso cafes. This is the closet I’ve been to mainstream European culture, so I fancied the feeling of foreignness. Check out some photos from my trip.

 
And now, in two days, I will be westbound for California. I will be spending the next year living in San Francisco and working in Oakland as a full time Vincentian Service Corp volunteer. My job will be assisting clients who have been out of a job for awhile, lack basic job skills, have never built a resume, struggle filling out applications or may not have the knowledge in finding a decent, living wage. The St. Vincent DePaul Community Center, the nonprofit I’ll be serving at, connects community employers with clients who have graduated from the Work Force. The Center also has a Culinary Program that prepares clients, from ex-convicts, healing substance abusers, to the homeless, for a new future.
 
While in San Francisco, I’ll be living with five other volunteers serving a variety of other projects from shelters to schools. The primary focus of this blog will be to magnify and document my experiences in the Bay Area, specifically with populations living on the margins and seeking employment.
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