Q: Have you ever formally studied art?
A: No. I started officially making art in 2005. Before that I was a physicist. I majored in physics. I never studied art the way you Americans do.
Q: Do you still work as a physicist?
A: No, I quit forever. The best way for me to fit as an immigrant into a new culture is through art. That's natural to me.
DANVILLE – Christopher Adkins' walker may hold him up, but he doesn't let it hold him back.
That's never more obvious than when the 11-year-old practices his moves, or techniques, at the Danville ATA Tae Kwon Do Academy.
Christopher strikes boards with his hands and throws front and side kicks with his feet right along with all the other kids in his class.
Some of his classmates even look for guidance from Christopher, who's almost always on cue with the next technique or shout.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
2:15 a.m., seriously. In the first hour, I shower, get dressed, eat, drive to work and start piecing together that day's forecast.
What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?
Grilled chicken and rice at home in Mahomet with my wife (This was at 7:45 a.m., however).
CHAMPAIGN – Local men, young and old, are invited to participate in a town hall meeting "for males and about males" in Champaign.
The meeting, organized by the local Peer Ambassadors, is set for 6 p.m. Monday at the Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., in the Robeson Pavilion.
Peer Ambassadors is an outreach program through the Champaign County Mental Health Center, for African-American youths ages 15 through 20 who reach out to their peers for education, peer counseling and leadership.
DANVILLE – Nearly three years ago, Bonnie Derrickson-Beecher stood at her granddaughter's grave and made a promise: The people who were responsible for fatally shooting her and two other people on Danville's east side would be found and brought to justice.
Today, she planned to return to the grave to mark the three-year anniversary of the murders, which remain unsolved.
"I'll tell her, 'I'm sorry. I'm still trying,'" she said softly, breaking into tears.
CHAMPAIGN – Maybe it was karma.
Just days after Kathy Darr bought plane tickets for a long-awaited trip to Japan with her son, she got an e-mail seeking host families for Japanese exchange students this summer.
Her first thought: Wow, what a coincidence. And then: No way.
After all, she's a single mom, with a small townhouse and a day job. Not necessarily ideal for an exchange student.
But she was intrigued, so she called for more information about the program.
CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area grew faster than all but one metropolitan area in Illinois, new population estimates from the Census Bureau show.
Meanwhile, the Danville metropolitan area was the fastest-shrinking in the state, according to estimates released this week.
The Champaign-Urbana area – which includes Champaign, Ford and Piatt counties – had 226,132 residents as of July 1, 2009, up from 223,998 a year earlier, the bureau said.
SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Bill Black continued to marvel Wednesday at the response to his legislation, approved by the House on Monday, that would allow cash-strapped school districts to move to a four-day school week.
"I've never seen so much fuss in my life over a bill a school superintendent asked me to introduce," the Danville Republican said.
His bill, which now heads to the Senate after an 81-21 vote in the House, was requested by Mark Janesky, superintendent of the 500-student Jamaica school district in rural Vermilion County.
URBANA – People young and old dressed in ball gowns or armor and children dressed as their favorite fairy tale characters will again gather for a ball in Urbana.
Hosted for the third year by the Urbana Free Library, the Fairy Tale Ball is set for 6 to 9 p.m. April 9 at the library.
Kathy Wicks, associate director of the library, said more than 1,000 people have attended the event each of the first two years.
"Last year, we had more than 1,200 people over three hours," Wicks said.