Smile Politely

Speakers in C-U, Feb. 15 – 21

You live near a major university and a community college. There are smart people that come here every week to talk to the general public about interesting topics. Perhaps you were not aware of this fact, or were overwhelmed by the sheer number of opportunities for possible enlightenment. If that’s the case, Smile Politely understands and is here to help. Here are several events going on in town this week. Check out one or more of them if you have time. Get your learn on, as they say, and join the cognoscenti. It’s free, you know. Plus, sometimes there’s free food, too!

If you have a community event, speaker, or film event that you’d like to see featured on Listen Up!, send the event information to joelgillespie [at] smilepolitely [dot] com by Friday the week prior to the event. Listen Up! runs on Mondays.


WHAT: An Evening with Lt. Dan Choi

WHEN: Monday, Feb. 15 @ 7 p.m.

WHERE: Illini Union Ballroom

From the event announcement:

On March 19, 2009, Lt. Dan Choi, a Korean American West Point graduate and Iraq veteran fluent in Arabic, announced that he was gay on The Rachel Maddow Show. Because of three words — “I am gay” — Lt. Choi’s life changed forever.

Despite his extreme value as an Arabic speaker, one month after his announcement, Lt. Dan Choi was notified that the Army had begun discharge proceedings against him. He was one of only eight soldiers from his graduating class who majored in Arabic.

Lt. Choi is a founding member of Knights Out an organization of West Point alumni advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.  He was also featured on the cover of the December issue of Out magazine as one of the 100 LGBT community members of the year.  Lt. Choi was again featured on the cover of Instinct magazine as one of the Leading Men of 2009 celebrating heroes who stand up and stand out.


WHAT: “Eyewitness from Haiti: An Unnatural Disaster,” hosted by the International Socialist Organization

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 16 @ 7 p.m.

WHERE: Gregory Hall R. 307 (southwest corner of quad)

I just saw a flier for this event this morning, and couldn’t find any more information online than what’s listed above in the short time available. Sounds like a thought-provoking evening.


WHAT: “The State of Blacks at Illinois,” moderated by Professor Ronald L. Jackson II (right), head of the Department of African American Studies

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 16 @ 11:30 a.m.

WHERE: Illini Union Room A

The intent of this program is to promote awareness of issues affecting Blacks at the University of Illinois, and how to address these issues during challenging times.


WHAT: “General aspects of Uruguay, including the expectation generated with the newly elected government,” Consul General Ministro Nury Bauzan, Uruguay

WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 17 @ 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: 101 International Studies Building, 910 S. Fifth Street, Champaign

Any Uruguayan political wonks out there? Here’s your chance to strut your stuff with some clever questions.


WHAT: “Popular Music and Dictatorship in Chile and Spain,” Daniel Party, Assistant Professor, Music Department, Saint Mary’s College

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 18 @ 12 noon

WHERE: 101 International Studies Building, 910 S. Fifth Street, Champaign

Party is a native Chilean and a musicologist, so he should be able to give an insider’s take on these topics which appear to be disparate on their surface.


WHAT: “MADWORLD: Sex, Politics, Style and the 1960s” symposium

WHEN: Friday, Feb. 19 @ 9 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

WHERE: Levis Faculty Center

The TV show Mad Men inspired this daylong symposium, sponsored by the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. I’ve never seen the show, but it seems like this would be an interesting angle from which to examine some social issues like white privilege and gender roles.

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