Chicagolandia Club promotes culture

Cassidy Foronda, staff reporter

Uniform houses sit beside quiet streets with lawns well trimmed and children playing on the sidewalk: a picturesque suburbia situated only a short distance from its polar opposite. Soaring skyscrapers and busy roads, fast walking people with places to go and people to see against a background of train horns and car honks; the city’s only a short train ride away.

Chicagolandia is a new club aimed at getting South students “out of the bubble,” according to club sponsor Dan Rhoades; it meets Mondays at 3:30 in room 202.

“[The club’s purpose is to] get [students] out and let them… experience parts of [Chicago] they wouldn’t otherwise get to see,” Rhoades said.

The club looks to get students outside of the conventional places frequented when they do travel to the city. According to Megan Sheqiladze, club founder and leader, when she saw people from Glenview often only went to tourist attractions in the city, she saw a need for a club like Chicagolandia to get students more situated with the city they live in.

“Everyone is constantly going to the city, but it’s very repetitive,” Sheqiladze said. “I thought that by having this club, people can branch out and see new things… There’s so much more and people just don’t know where to go.”

The club this far in the year has gone on two trips, one to Hull House, Chinatown, and Northerly Island, and the other a walk through the Chicago Marathon, according to Rhoades. The Jane Adams Hull House, according to Sheqiladze, was particularly interesting because of its history.

“It was really neat because most if it [now] is just how it was back when it was open,” Sheqiladze said.

She especially enjoyed visiting Northerly Island, a man-made peninsula that focuses on nature–a huge contrast from the city nearby.

“When you’re walking… it does not look like the city,” Sheqiladze said. “It’s really, really quiet and peaceful… and then you turn around and see skyscrapers behind you – it’s just so surreal. I will never see that anywhere else.”

The second excursion was to the restaurant the Little Goat on Randolph, and the play No Beast So Fierce at the Storefront Theater, according to Rhoades, though the club is looking forward to its future trips. Locations are often member chosen with input from sponsors in the form of suggestions.

 “[Trips] are almost always [student] ideas,” Rhoades said.

However, finding new places is the crux of the club, according to Sheqiladze, who in addition to being founder, is the only one currently in a leadership position. To discover new opportunities for the club to travel, she’ll search online.

“A lot of the time [members] don’t know what to do, which is why they’re in the club,” Sheqiladze said.

In addition to field trips and getting South students acclimated with their home outside of Glenview, Chicagolandia also looks to educate students on the history of the city. Rhoades, who is also a teacher for Urban Studies: Chicago, finds it important to know about the place that you’re from, and finds that the presence of he and David Garbe as sponsors adds context to the places they visit.

“[In Chicagolandia] you’re learning,” Rhoades said. “Doing some walking around and talking about what you’re seeing, and why that place is where it is, and is the way it is.”

The club, which has no potential to be a heavy burden, according to Rhoades, is a great place for South students to unwind while also gaining experiences that otherwise may be unavailable.

“Chicagolandia club is not a stressful club,” Rhoades said. “It’s all about having a good time and exploring a place you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to see.”

Though students often want to go downtown, according to Rhoades, it is difficult, especially for busy students with no way to independently transport themselves. The club, which has used different modes of transportation including public transportation and Glenbrook white buses, provides an outlet.

“When you’re a student… your home is your home,” Rhoades said. “It’s tough to get these experiences in.”