My story on Chicago’s crime spike was published today in The Christian Science Monitor. You can read it here.
My latest article in The University of Chicago Magazine is out. It’s a profile of Ryan Lugalia-Hollon and Eddie Bocanegra, the heads of the Chicago YMCA’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention Program. They’re doing some incredible work with young people on the South and West sides, including getting war veterans to mentor kids involved with gangs. You can read the article here.
With the birth of my daughter at the end of October and the cold weather here in Chicago, I haven’t been getting out of the house much these days. Luckily, I received two books in the mail recently to keep me busy indoors.
The first is by Chicago author and veteran Rory Fanning — “Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America.” The book chronicles Rory’s journey by foot across the United States to raise money for the Pat TIllman Foundation and to find peace after fighting in Afghanistan. Rory was so moved by what he saw in Afghanistan that he become a conscientious objector to the war, so his perspective as a returned veteran is particularly unique.
The other book I’m currently reading is also a peace odyssey, but one set in Vietnam. Kent Hinckley’s novel “Hearts, Minds, and Coffee” takes place during the war and follows the story of one American soldier sent to a dangerous Viet Cong stronghold as punishment for his anti-war views. The soldier must “wage peace” with the Vietnamese people in the area in order to survive. Kent was so kind as to inscribe the book he sent to me:
What books are you reading this December? Are there any veteran or Vietnam-centered books you’d recommend?
We had a great turnout for “Back to the Battlefield” at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago on Saturday. I opened the event with a presentation about the Vietnam War veterans who are living in Vietnam today and talked a little about the impact of unexploded ordnance on the country. Then, veteran Don Blackburn spoke about his life in Nha Trang, Vietnam and read selections from his books of poetry and essays.
The audience was enthusiastic and asked some great questions about the impact of Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance on Vietnamese people and how returning to Vietnam affects a veteran’s mental health.
Also, if you missed it … Narratively featured my profile of Don Blackburn — the vet who will be joining me at NVAM — on their Facebook page yesterday for Throwback Thursday. You can read my piece here.
In more alma mater news … I was featured in the alumni section of the November-December issue of the University of Chicago Magazine. I graduated from the U of C in 2006 with my Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities — a mix-and-match major where I studied human rights, international relations and creative writing. It was an unusual combination at the time, but it has served me well in my career as an international journalist.
You can read the excerpt from the magazine below.