Press Release


Graduation address by Rita Arias Jirasek of the National Museum of Mexican Art.

CHICAGO On Saturday, June 20 at 1:00 p.m. at the National Museum of Mexican Art (1842 West 19th Street), the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will celebrate the graduation of the Spanish Language Odyssey Project’s class of 2009.

Rita Arias Jirasek is a consultant and teacher at the National Museum of Mexican art, co-author of the photographic history Mexican Chicago, and curator of the companion permanent exhibit "Huellas Fotográphicas." In addition to Ms. Arias Jirasek, graduates will select a student speaker to address the graduation audience.

Fundamentos de Educación en Humanidades is part of The Odyssey Project, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council, offered in partnership with the University of Chicago, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities. Fundamentos serves native Spanish speakers and is offered at Gads Hill Center in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Students take classes in literature, philosophy, history, art history and writing. All reading assignments are in Spanish, as is class discussion. Classes meet twice a week from January to June.

Tuition to all Odyssey Project classes is free and all books are provided free of charge. Bard College and the National Autonomous University of Mexico grant certificates of achievement to any student who completes the course and six transferable college credit hours to those who complete it at a high level of achievement.

Founded in 2000 on the premise that engagement with the humanities can offer a way out of poverty, The Odyssey Project offers instruction in humanistic disciplines. Students explore masterpieces in literature, art history, moral philosophy, and United States history, and also get writing instruction as part of their coursework. The Bard Clemente Course in the Humanities (of which The Odyssey Project is a part) is in its 13th year, with sites operating across the United States, and similar Clemente Courses are now offered on five continents. Syllabi and reading lists at all sites are roughly equivalent to those a student might encounter in a first-year humanities survey course at a first-rate university. The Spanish Language Odyssey Project began in Chicago in 2003, and Bard College hopes to replicate the course in other locations.

For more information in Spanish about The Odyssey Project, please call Irena Cajkova at 312-375-2541. For information in English, call 312.422.5580, email, or visit

The Illinois Humanities Council is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.

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