I’ve never taken an Intensive Learning Term (ILT) with my college before.
This week, for the next 10 days, I will be traveling across the Midwest and southern states on a Civil Rights tour. Today was our first stop — Springfield, Illinois: the Land of Lincoln.
In high school Social Studies, I had always found Abraham Lincoln to be an intriguing individual. Our 16th president was not only especially eloquent and poised, but also an indispensable leader that our nation needed during a critical time in its history.
Fast forward nearly seven years later and I would feel these momentous notions as I walked the streets of Springfield and stepped inside the home of Lincoln himself. Nothing I had ever learned in the classroom prepared me for the chills I felt on the back of my neck, or the ache in my bones as my brain processed that I was in the presence of such rich history.
Mike, a park ranger, was our afternoon tour guide. I could tell that he was proud and grateful to be in a position to share Lincoln’s life with us. Mike was articulate and warm while he told us biographical information about the Lincoln family and home; consistently, he reminded us that the former president was an exemplary posterchild of the American Dream — a hard working man who came from humble beginnings, a real rags to riches story.
We entered the home and snaked along the first floor to see the front parlor and study, then worked our way upstairs to view the guest bedroom and living quarters of Lincoln, his wife and sons. Mike painted several pictures of Lincoln sitting as his desk (pictured below) penning letters, or probably sitting in deep thought.
Every step we took, history was alive and well. I tried not to become overwhelmed by the thought of what everyday life might have been in the 1800s, the joys and sorrows that took place inside the Lincoln home, or the fact that the same gravel crunching underneath my shoes most likely did too under Lincoln’s own strides across town.
It was truly an eye-opening experience. One that worked up an incredible appetite among us all, admittedly.
After we concluded our tour, a group member of ours bravely asked a local where we should eat dinner, and we were led to a microbrewery and eatery called Obed & Isaac’s.
The selection had an inviting, urban and relaxed feel. The menu was ecclectic and mouth-watering.
After a bout of phenomenal appetizers — goat cheese stuffed dates, pierogies, IPA battered onion rings — I settled on a chipotle black bean burger that was nestled in between a pretzel roll bun. The delicious duo was lovely on the palate with buttery texture of the roll and earthiness of the fresh patty, paired with a creamy house mayonaise and your standard mustard and ketchup. My choice of side was the zesty coleslaw (that was NOT zesty whatsoever, but I enjoyed the meal nonetheless).
Each of us left wholly satisfied and bubbly that we had tried some of the local cuisine, if it wasn’t because of that, it was certainly the crisp ciders, ales or stouts that many of us had ordered to accompany our meals.
Incredible history, incredible food. The Land of Lincoln is a place that I would certainly visit again.