By Marc Ridgell ‘19
On October 3, the Brother Rice Spanish II and III classes had the opportunity to visit the Mexican Consulate and the Mexican Art Museum. After they visited these two places in the morning, the classes went to Taqueria Los Comales, a Mexican restaurant. All three places the Spanish classes visited were located in or near Pilsen, a Mexican-influenced neighborhood located near the west side of Chicago.
When we went on the Spanish field trip, we were incredibly immersed into a very unique culture located within our own city.
Before our visit to the Mexican Consulate, we immediately noticed the cultural and economical influences of Pilsen. The surrounding artistic buildings, the typically-English billboards translated into Spanish, and the variety of authentic Mexican restaurants sparked our interests.
When we arrived at the consulate, the traffic that came in and out of the consulate was very heavy. Once we went in, Consul Carlos Martín Jiménez Macías and his two colleagues led us into the Consulate’s conference room and gave both of the Spanish classes a presentation with a question-and-answer panel. We became more educated about Mexican immigration because both officials, of Mexican descent themselves, gave a humane perspective of what they try to do to help Mexican citizens and immigrants in their community, such as help with licenses, green cards, or other governmental matters. Not only did it personally educate me, it further kindled my fascination with public relations and what the government’s role is within local matters.
One of our Brother Rice teachers, Mrs. Carbol, had plenty to recount from her experience at the Consulate.
“For the Consul himself to come out with his helpers and to give us the kind of welcome they gave us was very unusual, “said Mrs. Carbol. “I was very honored that they would do that for us.”
Next, Mrs. Carbol provided detail of why having consulates everywhere is important relating it to
Americans in other country.
Mrs. Carbol said, “If you are an American in another country, and you run into some trouble, you are supposed to find the American embassy and they will help you just like this Mexican Consulate helps Mexican nationals in the city of Chicago.”
After visiting the consulate, the Spanish classes hopped back onto the bus so we could go to the Mexican Art Museum. When we arrived at the museum, the peach and orange colored walls conveyed to us vivid artistry that we wouldn't have seen at any other museum. We walked all about the museum, going into different doors to observe the paintings and sculptures created by Mexican artists, which was a great representation of Mexican culture.
Next, we had a tour into the room of the altars for the Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. In Mexico, the Day of the Dead happens immediately after October 31 to honor the lost ones of families; they honor their late family members by making altars with pictures and their favorite things, for example, food, sports team memorabilia, and hobbies. Similarly, the museum contained altars with dogs and wreaths dedicated to families who died in World War II. Another altar contained a road sign (located in Southern California) to warn drivers near the Mexico border to not accidentally hit immigrants crossing the border into the United States. A more local altar was created by predominantly Latino students from a local school in the area to remember their art teacher, Mr. Pino. They filled his altar with Cubs memorabilia, art tools, and pictures of his family.
I asked my Spanish teacher, Ms. Lynch, for her opinion of the tour of the altars: “The altars are phenomenal. People had such imagination. They [the altars] had a theme that they did not have before, but this year, they were themed as opposed to personal loss and remembrance. This was refreshing; I liked the themes, and it was very bright with child safety, drinking and driving, responsibility, political commentary on the administration, citizenship, and immigration.”
Next, we traveled back to the bus after the tour to depart to our final destination. We went to Taqueria Los Comales, a Mexican restaurant located near the Heart of Chicago neighborhood. As soon as we stepped into the restaurant, I smelled a variety of piquant spices, so I immediately knew that this food was going to not only be delicious, but authentic. All of us dispersed throughout the restaurant, finding tables to sit. Once seated, our orders were taken.
I asked my classmate, Tim Novick, what he thought on the restaurant food: “The steak tacos and churros
were delicious. The steak was tender and very flavorful.”
I ordered three chicken tacos with Spanish rice and beans. Not only did the tacos taste amazing, but they had a robust flavor that you would only taste through native Mexican spices.
After we finished eating, the restaurant gave all of us each one free churro, which was the perfect ending to a cultural-filled, Spanish field trip.