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Everybody has a story

It’s easy for the news to be dominated by stories of conventional newsmakers: politicians and public officials, celebrities and criminals, those who do things and those to whom things are done. But everybody has a story, and many of them never appear in publications. 

A few weeks ago, students in Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin’s Intro to Journalism class fanned out around the Chicago area looking for interesting people with stories to tell. They found them in coffee shops and gyms, the lakefront and the suburbs. They were long-time Chicagoans and recent transplants. Some readily gave their names and ages; others demurred. And they all had interesting things to say. 

Below are nine people these students photographed and interviewed in the tradition of Humans of New York. 

“Physical fitness has helped me personally with my mental health. It’s a good de-stressor. I find that daily exercise, or just daily activity in general, helps my mind to be more clear and more calm. It makes me a more peaceful and happy person.” 

Connie Reilly, General Manager of Columbia College Chicago fitness center 
Photo and text by Janaya Banks 

“So, this hat is pretty special to me because I got it as part of a free order bonus for a cookbook that I got. I don’t remember what it’s called, but it’s the first one by Matty Matheson. It came in this nice little box or package and the hat, the token, was included with it, and it was, you know, kind of the start of my cooking journey, as well as a really lovely shade of purple lilac.”  

Rodrigo Arreola, 28, Mexico City 
Photo and text by Andrea Bates 

“Now that its officially fall, you know, it’s while the weather permits. I’m just trying to get out here, get my last few days in, before he packs up for the season, which is right around the corner. This year he was late. We didn’t open up until around Memorial Day, which is like two months late because normally he opens up that first week of April.”

John J. on S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, talking about the un-named man who sets up chess and checker boards near The Art Institute of Chicago 
Photo and text by Maizie Hummel-Logee 

“I mean the money is good, the experience is great, and I get to lead people; I enjoy my job. Also, I enjoy making coffee. Overall, I really appreciate the coffee culture and what it brings.” 

Kassandra Canelo, 19, Guanajuato, Mexico
Photo and text by Alex Gonzalez 

“I served eight and a half years in the military. I got to go around the world and visit quite a few different places other than, you know, the United States. I got to see different things, different people, cultures, and some ugly stuff.” 
“I ran into some health problems a couple of years back, ended up hurting me financially, and pretty much put me on the street. I got hit by a car and was hospitalized for almost a year. I wasn’t smart about how I was handling my finances and stuff like that. And instead of reaching out and asking for help, I tried to do things on my own.” 

Thomas, Chicago  
Photo and text by Harry O’Brien 

“So Alvvays is like a synthy, bedroom pop kind of band. They’re really good. My favorite album was actually their self-titled debut album, just Alvvays. I listened to it all throughout my last year of high school and it just really stuck with me. They have three albums that I’d highly recommend to anyone and everyone to listen to. Molly, the lead singer of the band, has this great unique voice that makes all her music stand out. It’s funny cause not a lot of people know about them. I mean it’s 6 p.m. and I’m only the fifth person in line and like for a concert, that’s strange. I’m just hoping to get a set list.” 

Clare Hahn, 18, Pingree Grove, IL 
Photo and text by Daya Rodriguez 

“I’ve been living in the South Loop for a month or two. My experience has been pretty cool. I love the city. I think it’s pretty much like New York to me. It sort of reminds me of it, which is why I wanted to come here. Being from the suburbs, it was a bit of a culture shock to me just because of like how fast-paced it was and how everything is within walking distance. I think it’s a great environment to enjoy yourself but still also focus on yourself and your career.” 

Sanai Burgess, 18, New Jersey 
Photo and text by Janiya Williams 

”I’m one the co-founders of a non-profit 501c3 called Recess Movement and we use art to rebuild communities. Our current campaign, Art Rebuilds, focuses on bringing communities together through art and community collaborations. We are a Christian ministry with a lot to say and a lot to do – just recently we’ve been selling tote bags and somehow, someway, our merch has made its way to Ukraine. We’ve been assisting refugees over there – getting calls left and right when the conflict started.” 

Kallie Bahorich, 30s, Houston 
Photo and text by Daniel Jimenez 

“I started in the Ice cream business in 2016. I did it more when I was young at 17. I like it, especially I just do it for five to six months, and in the summer. It’s good money. But you know we have a lot of trouble with the police, with tickets and stuff like that. Even if we have a license they bother us sometimes, like right now. I love it though; I like the kids when they get happy. I was thinking of going in the wintertime to go to California or Vegas to do this because over there it’s warmer out there.” 

“Ice Cream Truck Man” 
Photo and text by Mina Jue 

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