Friday, November 18, 2011

Hello from Chicago fellow AFARA students!

Here are some of the letters we have written to introduce ourselves to you. We look forward to hearing back from you

You can view photos of us writing our letters and collecting soil samples at the following link

Dear fellow students,
            To begin with I would like to introduce myself. I am Celene and I am eighteen years old.  My nationality is Mexican even though I been living in the United States for almost all my life. I was a baby when my family came to the US so really I don’t remember my country.

            I am very religious and I go to church every Sunday morning; I believe in the Virgin Mary, I pray when I eat when I go to sleep when I wake up.  My parents are very supportive of all my sisters and my one brother especially when it has to do with our education. What I would like to do in the future is become a nurse  because I like to help people.

            My hero is my dad because he is a hard-working men that has always been there for his family. No matter what, he has always talked to his daughters about how to get through life without getting in trouble.
            In my free time I like to write and listen to music. I am a senior in high school, so it is my last year. My school is very supportive of our dreams and they try to help us. What I like most in school is how the teachers want you to succeed in life to go college and have a bright future . 

            I used to live in the suburbs outside the city. Over there is very different from where I live now, on the North side. This neighborhood it is alright, I guess.  It has its goods and its bad. For example, it has gangs that can be violent,  What it makes it hard each day is that you never know what’s going to happen next. For me the world has to be clean I think it is important for the world to be clean.  The world it might not be perfect but it is very nice that it has a  lot of positive aspects that we need to save.  I  would like to ask you some questions. For example,  I would like to know what it is like over there were you live.  What do you do in your free time? What do you eat? Here there are all kinds of foods but different neighborhoods have different kinds of food like Mexican restaurants in this neighborhood and Chinese restaurants in the Chinese neighborhoods.                

Dear students in Nigeria,

My name is Emanuel. I’m 16 years old and I speak both English and Spanish. I’m full Puerto Rican but I was born in Chicago, Illinois. Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean. It takes like 4 hours in an airplane just to get  from Chicago to Puerto Rico, so it’s pretty far from here.

In Chicago, there are a lot of buildings and skyscrapers. People also call Chicago “The Windy City”. People are always on the move too – it is a very hectic and crowded place. Downtown is especially busy with  everyone rushing to their job.

I have a sister that’s in college and a brother that goes to middle school. I live with my mom because she’s a single mom. My mom is from Arecibo, Puerto Rico and my dad is from Lares, Puerto Rico. This makes me full Puerto Rican because basically everyone in my family is Puerto Rican.

In the future for my career, I want to be a car designer because ever since I was a baby, I was always interested in cars. I also want to have a real nice house and a nice car too.

I’m also a Christian myself. I’m a musician at my church and I the instrument I play is the bass. I basically grew up going to church till this day. I also like animals and sea animals as well. In other words, I like nature and how it works on Earth. I would like to hear more about you guys in Nigeria and how it is over there. 

 Emanuel. R

Dear Pen-Pal,

            Hi, my name is Elyza I am of Puerto Rican and Irish decent, I’m from Chicago Illinois, and I go to North Grand High School. I am 17 years old and I’m turning 18 on November 25th, I was born on Thanksgiving Day which is a very big holiday here.

            I live with my mother, step-father, and my grandfather in a two bedroom apartment. When I’m bored I like to hang out with my friends and go shopping at mall and out to eat. When I’m down and feeling depressed what helps me feel better is listening to music. The types of music I love to listen to are Hip-Hop, R&B, Bachata which is Spanish music, and Pop.

            What is your family and home like? What do you like to do with your time when you are not in school? Do you like music too?


Dear Pen-Pal,                                                                                                                                        

         Hello my name is Francisco but you can call me Frank. I am 18 years old and I am from Chicago, Illinois in the United States. I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers and I am the oldest child in the family. I live in a neighborhood called Kos. Park, it is a fairly good neighborhood in my opinion.

         I am Roman Catholic but I don’t practice it religiously as everyone normally does. I am Mexican, Puerto Rican, and White. My mom is 100% Puerto Rican; my dad is Mexican and White.  I come from a very big family, I live with my grandma because my mom lives too far from my school and it’s easier for me to travel living with my grandma. 

         I speak English and Spanish, and I’m taking Polish for my job. I am a senior in high school; it is my last year before I move on to college so I am really excited. I plan to study law, and medicine so I’m going to be in school for a long time.

         In my high school l love my Science and English classes, and hate my Math classes. When I’m not working I like to spend my free time swimming and hanging out with my friends. I work for the Fire Department in a small city next to Chicago called Berwyn. I am a Supervisory Paramedic in fire house 3, I work 3 days out of the week and when I’m not working I try my best to focus on having fun to let all the stress out.

         At the moment the most important thing in my life and world is my girlfriend Nancy. We have been together almost two years now, and she’s an amazing person.

         I’ve always wondered how the education system in Africa works. How big are schools, and how big are your class sizes. In my school there is an average of 32 students in each class. So not big but not small either.  I am looking forward to hearing back from you and learning more about you and your school.

Sincerely your Pen-Pal,


Dear pen pal

         Hi. My name is Diana R. I’m 15 years old and I am a freshman at North Grand High School. I was born and raised at Chicago. Both of my parents are Mexican. My father speaks both English and Spanish and my mother only speak Spanish. I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers.

         When I was 6 years old, I went to a public school that only teaches English. Most of the adults expected me to speak Spanish. I told them I was only taught to speak English. They thought I speak Spanish because of my parents. When I try to ask my mom something or answer her questions, I ask one of my sister or brother to translate what I say to my mother. I can sometimes understand what my mother is saying.

         On Sundays, I go to church with my mother, father and one of my brothers. We always go when the priest speak Spanish for my mother to understand what he is saying. My mother always believes in God and that he is always watching her. I believe that God is watching because there are things that can’t be explained in my family.

         Here in Chicago, there are many buildings that are being built and destroyed. My favorite building is the Willis Tower which has 110 floors and is 1,400 feet tall. When I went to top floor with my parents and sister, I loved the view. There were so many building and there was the huge Lake Michigan which is one of the 5 Great Lakes. At that time, the sky looked foggy at first but then cleared up to reveal the blue sky.

         So, how about you? What is it like at Nigeria? I look forward to hearing about your family and your city.

Diana R. 

Dear Pen-pal,

Hello, my name is Juanita. I’m seventeen years old and I’m Puerto Rican, but I’ve lived in Chicago, Illinois my entire life. I enjoy living in Chicago. The streets are busy, and there are always kids outside playing. Although, there are some neighborhoods that are full of violence and aren’t safe, my neighborhood is pretty good. I’m somewhat of a free spirit; I love to just be me.

Growing up, I’ve always been surrounded by family and loved ones. My religion is Catholic, but I don’t go to church as much as I should; that’s going to change. I speak English and a little bit of Spanish. In my household, Spanish is spoken more often, which is why I’m trying to learn more. Even though I don’t understand every word, I love dancing to Spanish music: bachata, meringue, and salsa, as well as hip hop.

I’m in the process of applying to college, being the first in my family to do so. I hope to go to Aurora University and continue to play softball on the team there. It can sometimes become stressful thinking about college, the very high cost, and being on my own are the two things that make me worried. The thought of how much my parents have sacrificed for me encourages me to never give up.

In my free time I usually am playing video games, talking to my friends, dancing or playing sports. Dancing always helps me feel better whenever I’m upset, it makes me feel free for just a moment. Other sports I play besides softball are basketball, and volleyball. As long as I’m with my friends or family, I’m having a good time. What do you do with your free time? Do you like any of the same things I do? What is an average day like in Africa?


Dear, Pen Pal,
         My name is Julian A., and I attend North Grand High School, located here in Chicago, Illinois. My high school here consists majority of Latinos. I am from Mexico, which by the way is cool. You know, living here isn’t as easy as many make it seem. The neighborhood in which I live is becoming more dangerous because of gangs. 
         The bright side of this city is that there are so many things to do for fun. I like going downtown which is full of big buildings and many stores to visit. There is also Millennium Park which is awesome to go to.
         One thing you should know about me is that I love playing soccer. I’m wondering if you like to play soccer. I also speak two fluent languages: Spanish and English. What languages to you speak?. I bet it’s interesting.
         I still can’t believe I am a senior and about to graduate from high school. I am nervous about my future though, I do know what I want to be but colleges here are very expensive. I hope to become a journalist in my future. What do you hope or want to be in the future.  Hasta luego; which means until next time in Spanish.
              Sinceramente, Julian A. 

Dear Pen-Pal,
         My name is Karen and I am currently attending North-Grand High school - senior year, oh yeah! North-Grand is a two floor building with three halls across each floor. With about 900 students, this high school is small compared to others, but in my opinion I think it’s a good quality because you can get to know all the people in the school. I live on the North side and I admit that my neighborhood is a little ghetto. An accident or some other emergency always occurs. There is always something going on. There is not one night I don’t hear the police or ambulance sirens rushing past my house. Therefore, we all have to be alert of our surroundings.

         I was born here in the United States, but my parents are from Mexico, so I consider myself to be Mexican. I love music in general like hip-hop, rap,  and rock, but what I like the most is Mexican music. I am a member of a  group which named ourselves “Club Eterno” – The Eternity. We dance to different types of Mexican music but what we dance the most is called “Quebradita”. Quebradita is a dance full of style, fast turns, and flips – it is a very creative dance, and it is a work out! We as a group, practice three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays for four hours. Since our dancing includes flipping – almost like acrobats – our practice place is at a gym with the floor made out of cushion for safety. The people who dance quebradita do it for fun, we don’t get money out of it, we just do it because it is our passion. The purpose of our practices is to come up with different routines and we battle other clubs at what we call “bailes”; parties with bands playing and people dancing. We also compete and try our best to place in  1st , 2nd, or 3rd for our club; we are trying to be the champions.

         I am a very friendly and outgoing girl; I love to spend time with friends and family. I have two little bothers, Kevin who is 14 and he means so much to me, he has been there for me and always tries to make me smile when I need him the most. Kenny is the smallest, he is 4 years old and that kid is a trouble maker! Kiara, she is 9 years old and she is the sweetest little girl ever.  I like to always be busy and have something to do. My goal for now is to graduate with an A or B average and go to college. I noticed that I enjoy math and there is no doubt that I love design. Therefore, I am looking forward in earning my bachelors degree (four years of college) for Architecture. Until then, I would try my best know to reach my goal. Well, I think I’ve covered everything important about me. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and hope to hear about you soon.

     Sincerely, Karen Sotelo

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