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Chicago Urban League Headed to China With Youths

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For the second consecutive year a group of youths will travel to China for free to learn about a different culture.

The two-week trip is being spearheaded by the Chicago Urban League and funded thanks to corporate sponsors like American Airlines.

“We could not have done this without our wonderful sponsors. These students deserve to step outside their comfort zone and see another part of the world besides America,” said Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of the urban league at the organization’s annual lunch summit April 30. “There are so many different cultures that exist in the world and we want our students to be exposed to as many as possible before graduating from high school.”

Joining Zopp at the summit were Cook County Board President Toni Precwinkle and Ariel Investments Inc. Founder John Rogers Jr.

“Young people are our future so we should prepare them for that day,” Precwinkle said.

Among the 20 students headed to China in July is Kameron Irvin, a freshman at Simeon Career Academy High School.

“I can’t wait to get there and see what’s it like living in China,” he said. “When I found out I was going I could not believe it or stop jumping up and down in excitement.”

Jazmine Reliford, a freshman at King College Prep, is also headed to China.

“Oh my God, I am like super excited about going. This is a once in a lifetime trip,
Reliford said.

And James Willis, who also attends King College Prep, described the upcoming excursion as “an educational opportunity that comes around only once in life.”

News about the China trip was shared with about 300 people that attended the annual lunch summit, which this year’s theme was “Fearless Collaboration: Where Preparation Meets Opportunity.”

At the event Christian Fenger Academy High School Principal Elizabeth Dozier was recognized for her educational milestones, such as improving the quality of life for Fenger students.

“There’s so much that needs to be done before we can say we are there,” Dozier said. “When the moratorium ends for closing schools who knows what will happen. But I do know that I will do everything in my power to make sure Fenger stays open and to make sure our students are receiving the best possible education.”

Zopp praised Dozier for her continued efforts to save “our children for violence and instill in them not only educational values but morale vales too.”

The keynote speaker for the summit was Ilene Gordon, chairman, president and CEO of Ingredion Inc. The wife and mother spoke passionately about her past struggles in the business world to be taken seriously by her male counterparts and how 30 years after she graduated from college minorities, such as women, are not in leadership positions.

“One thing I have noticed is that change happens faster when it begins from the top,” Gordon said. “Corporations should reflect the consumer world and that is not happening fast enough because there are too many boardrooms lacking diversity.”

She suggested to improve diversity businesses have more minorities on their boards, which would allow minorities to institute changes corporate wide. She also said everyone needs a mentor if they hope to be successful in life.

“My board members are my mentor but everybody should have one. If you don’t you better get one,” added Gordon. “We (minorities) need to push beyond our comfort zone and be prepared to bring something to the table if we want a seat at the table.”

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