ICO Introduces International Student to Chicago

Shelly Asas, Contributing Writer

Planned during our last E-board meeting, ICO’s president, Marina Ibrahim; vice president, which is myself (Shelly Asas), and our treasurer, Mili Maracas, we all thought it would be a good idea to take our international students to one of the famous tourist location in the city.

ICO took their members of international students at GSU to a fun day to downtown Chicago. The students were really excited to hear that the organization was taking this trip because some of them have never been outside of their current cities. We did our very best to include as much ICO members that we could think of in the group chat to keep them notified and updated throughout the day.

The journey started as soon as we all met up in front of GSU’s main entrance to wait for GSU’s shuttle bus that would take us all to the Metra.  Everyone was reminded the day before that we would be taking the 8:40 a.m. shuttle bus, so we all made the effort to all meet at the front of the entrance by 8:30 a.m. As soon as everyone was all together in front of the school, Maracas did a head count to make sure everyone that we were expecting to come were all present.

After looking around along with Maracas, I asked, “Is this all of us?” Maracas then responded, “No there will be more meeting us when we arrive at the station downtown.” Upon hearing that response, I already knew that the trip was just beginning.

As everyone got settled into the shuttle bus, I scanned the whole bus once again to get an idea on who was currently with us at that moment, although the group chat in a way indirectly introduced to us all, meeting in person is always a different story. I made an effort to get to know everyone’s names and to strike up conversations to break the ice with my members to ensure that they will enjoy the rest of the trip in Chicago. At that moment, the members that were present at the bus were Manny, Danny, Elizabeth, Abanoub, Neha, Marina, Mili, Larry, Zhuangwei, Amir, and myself.

The whole trip to Chicago, the members had a nice time introducing themselves and getting to know each other, a time full of laughter, jokes, and tears from the laughter, a bonding time that was part of my intention and desire to happen before we arrived downtown so that a relationship has already been made, and the rest of the trip can be focused on just enjoying each other’s company as well as enjoying the scenery and activities that were planned for the rest of the day.

Maracas came prepared with a selfie stick to treasure the memories that ICO were going to have and keep forever. We went to the Bean, and had a fun bonding time as we all took group pictures, which is now our new cover photo for our Facebook page. Some of the members already connected really well, and took selfies that were full of smiles and happiness that can be seen through our eyes. We then walked to the Pritzker Pavilion, where we enjoyed the view of the sculptures along the path we walked on, and took multiple pictures. Two of our members, Danny and Manny, both brought their cameras that day which was nice because we were able to get professional-looking pictures of the trip.


We also walked to the Skywalk bridge and took more beautiful photos since the scenery at the location were very beautiful. After we did a couple photo-shoots by the Skywalk Bridge, we passed through different groups of people from different schools that were on a field trip that required asking random strangers to do certain things with them, and some of our members were asked to do things like dance, talk, or answer questions that they were asked. The teachers and students were so excited that some of us agreed to do things with them leaving a smile on their faces as we walked away.

Afterwards, we continued walking towards Lake Shore Drive, but we took a quick break and rested for a few minutes before we walked along Lake Shore Drive. The water scenery was absolutely beautiful as the sun reflected off from the waters making the perfect spot for picture taking among friends.

The walking journeys between the different locations involved friendly conversations that tightened the bond of the newly made friendships with more laughter, thought-provoking questions and answers were discussed as we walked along the lakeshore. The large group eventually divided into two different groups as one group wanted to really grasp each second and each inch of the view as we walked. After walking for quite some time, some of our members began to ask, “What’s next?” I, along with the president and treasurer, just smiled because we all said in unison and said, “Dinner time!”
We hurried along towards Navy Pier’s Giordanos for our dinner. We were told to wait for about 30 minutes to an hour before we could go in, so some of us stayed to save our seats, while the rest of us wanted to continue sightseeing and take more pictures. We definitely got stares for being silly and just having fun. The deep-dish pizza satisfied our stomachs.

Finally, we started to walk back towards the river walk, visiting the beautiful scenery again towards the Trump Tower, where we all met and gathered by the bridge where we can view the river and all the boats and ferries and kayaks that were in the water. We took our last group pictures and took more selfies with each other as some of us had to part ways since some were staying downtown and some were going to take the train back.

The day ended with everyone going back to their cars in the parking lot to head back home, and with a video taken of four of our ICO members, Manny, Danny, Elizabeth, and Zhuangwei expressing how the trip went for them for the Governors State’s Instagram Takeover stories which was managed by myself during the whole trip. As the motto of the International Culture Organization states: “The beauty of ICO lies in the diversity of its people.”