Poster girl


She stands in front of the Ellis Avenue Barnes & Noble each weekday morning, flanked by three friends and wearing a poster that covers much of her small frame. Her sign, in colored markers, reads, “God, Creator Of Heaven & Earth, Made You Breath-Takingly Beautiful. You Are His BELOVED.” From 8:30 to 9:30 she displays her sign; when the hour is up, she packs it into a large blue plastic bag and leaves. Rebecca Wei has to be on time for class.

For the past four weeks Wei, 16, a Naperville Central High School rising junior, has been commuting to campus for the Young Scholars Program, a free, intensive, four-week math workshop for Chicago-area seventh through twelfth graders. In the hour before classes start and from 2:30 to 4 p.m., Wei shoulders the poster. She got the idea from “the circumcision guy” who stations himself in front of the bookstore each afternoon. “I thought, well, if he can stand on a corner for something he believes in, so can I.” A member of a nondenominational church, Wei said that the poster idea “isn’t my church.” She and her friends “just thought it up.” In the afternoon she finds other campus spots because, she said, “I don’t care either way about circumcision. I don’t want to be associated with it.” Last week, for instance, she stood in the Regenstein Library lobby (she couldn’t enter without a University ID) for about half an hour before she was “kicked out.” She’s often parked at the bus stop in front of the Cancer Research Center.

“Some people are really encouraging and some people will, like, lower their eyes,” said David Chang, a Naperville Central rising sophomore who stands with Wei each morning. One person pulled a book out of his bag for “ten seconds” as he passed, avoiding eye contact. On the other hand, “We got a taxicab driver who wanted to shake our hands.” Although the poster’s purpose is evangelism, Wei said, one person thought it had to do with birth control.

Wei, who also attended the Young Scholars Program last year, will likely return next summer. If so, she said, “I will definitely do the poster thing.”

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: Poster-clad Rebecca Wei, fellow Naperville Central High School students David Chang and Emily Sheu, and seventh-grader Vincent Chang take a break in Cobb's coffeeshop.

August 1, 2005