CIW (YOU)th Ambassadors Celebrate the Holiday Spirit at the House Theater’s Nutcracker

It’s been over a month since Chicago Ideas Week YOU(th) Ambassadors worked together to help run the behind-the-scenes of CIW 2013, and the Chicago-area students had a lot to catch up on.  From what college applications they had turned in to the Chicago Bull’s recent win against the Miami Heat, there was no shortage of conversation as seven of the YOU(th) Ambassadors swapped stories over dinner at The Smoke Daddy after the House Theater’s The Nutcracker this past Sunday, December 8.
The CIW YOU(th) Ambassadors caught up over dinner at The Smoke Daddy in Wicker Park.  
From left: Shaquiesha Davis, Ben Maple, Gloria Rivas, DeShadrian Desmuke, Joseph Jones, 
Terrence Stewart and Destiny Hicks.
Most of the Ambassadors who attended the play were unfamiliar with The Nutcracker’s storyline prior to seeing the House Theater’s unconventional production, which featured a group of stuffed animals come to life, villainous rats with Cockney accents and a Clara who must rediscover the true meaning of Christmas spirit.
“I’m excited,” Shaquiesha Davis, a senior at Chicago Tech High School, said prior to the show.  “[I’ve] always wanted to go, but never got the chance.”

CIW YOU(th) Ambassadors met The Nutcracker‘s stuffed-animal stars.
From left: Christine Mayland Perkins (as Phoebe), DeShadrian Desmuke,
Johnny Arena (as Monkey), Jason Grimm (as Hugo) and Destiny Hicks.

The event also provided the youth a chance to reflect on their experiences as CIW Ambassadors—and on how they would like to stay involved moving forward. 
“It kind of broadened my horizon to a wider world…outside Chicago,” Terrence Stewart, a senior at Fenger High School said of his experiences as a CIW Ambassador.
Destiny Hicks noted the opportunities the program gave her to begin pursuing a career in photography when she documented CIW YOU(th)’s kick-off event at the Museum of Science and Industry this past September. 
“Basically, you get connected to people and businesses..stuff you may want to do in the future,” the Fenger High School senior said. 
And all of the CIW Ambassadors agreed that they would like to stay connected in the coming year, even as many plan to pursue college careers outside of Chicago.
“I really liked seeing them, spending time with them and seeing that they now want to start their own connections with each other across the different schools,” CIW YOU(th) Director Rachel Graham said of Sunday’s successful event.

Written by: Erin Robertson
Photography by: Rachel Graham

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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