Story Collected by Ian Torres 

My Ventra card; that is what my story is about. The reason why I brought my Ventra card in as my item to talk about is because though it might be a simple and in many ways might seem like an insignificant item, my Ventra card represents a big part of my identity today. I am a junior at UIC with a major in Latin American and Latino Studies, with a minor in Communications and Spanish. As a student at UIC I received a Ventra card at the beginning of the 2013 fall semester. This detail is not important, however, what is important is that this card not only represents the tool I use to commute to school and from school (like 80% of the school does), rather this item represents who I am. This card has allowed me to have more flexibility in terms of my transportation options, it has given me a certain freedom I did not have before, and it has allowed me to become more active in my daily activities that will one day be all part of my career and my future. I live in the suburbs and it is very difficult to sometimes go out to the city where I work, where I go to school and where most of my friends as well as colleagues live. 

Before I started going to UIC, I relied a lot on my parents to take me to wherever I needed to go or wanted to go. To be completely honest, it was a pain because they would not want to drive me around most of the time and sometimes they were not able to do so. Once I got my card I no longer had to ask them for rides and could easily, without a problem, get to where I needed to get. That is what I mean when I say I gained freedom. It has really helped me because I can stay after school until late hours, I can travel to wherever in the city I need to get to for work or do whatever I need, even if it is to spend time with a group of friends. I no longer have to rely on my parents to get something done and I don’t have to worry about parking. Yes, there are times when I really dislike public transportation. It can be slow at times, or the weather may be bad and I have to wait outside, but there is a level of flexibility and convenience that public transportation allows you to have and that is what I like. I was recently presented with the opportunity to buy a car and I decided not to. It would have simply cost me way too much and it is just not in my best interest to have those kinds of expenses. Having a Ventra card, for me, is a better alternative.

The Ventra card is a big part of my identity simply because I am the kind of person that has to travel a lot every day and I can’t be relying on anyone or anything to get things done. With the card I get things done and at the same time I am engaging in an eco-friendly practice, which is helping me develop a new part of myself which is that appreciation and love for our environment. I am also an activist that one day desires to give back to the communities of those who have in some ways been forgotten or have been pushed aside. Having to travel on public transportation has allowed me to see things that you would normally not be able to see unless you experienced it for yourself. You see the necessity of people, the struggle they face every day, but you also see their strength and determination to get to work, or to get back home to their kids to provide for them. Having to use public transportation has allowed me to reconnect with my Latino roots, the real roots, which is the people. It has allowed me to gain love and appreciation for my city and for what I do each time more and more.