Meet Nely Gonzalez: APTP Teaching Artist & Alum

Meet Nely Gonzalez: APTP Teaching Artist & Alum

I started my journey with APTP in 2015 in an after-school program at Albany Park Multicultural Academy. My friend dragged me in, telling me it was going to be so much fun. I wasn’t so sure. I was always the shy kid in my class who didn’t like talking in front of others let alone sharing personal stories about myself. I went, just to make sure my friend didn’t feel lonely.

After that first workshop, I kept going back. I felt empowered at APTP. I felt like I finally found a community that I could talk to and open up to without judgment, but instead with compassion and understanding.

I graduated from high school and APTP in 2021. As an adult, it’s been hard to find a community where I could open up and feel safe like I did with APTP when I was younger.

In 2022, APTP directors Maggie Popadiak and Miguel Rodriguez invited me to return as an Assistant Teaching Artist for APTP@School, our school-based program where we work with students in five schools to create community and empowerment around their personal stories.

This year, Miguel and I created and piloted a program in Spanish for migrant students at Haugan Elementary and Roosevelt High School. Even though those students barely know each other, the class has felt like a strong community. After a recent workshop where students sat in small groups and listened to each other’s stories, I asked them how the assignment felt for them. They said they felt comfortable and could relate to each other’s experiences of coming into a new country, feeling uncertain about everything, but finding community in the classroom with each other.

In 2024, as the school year continues, I hope I can continue to help these students, our newest neighbors, strengthen their feelings of community and empowerment in their schools.