Chicago, suburban students get together to solve issues plaguing the city

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FOX 32 NEWS - They live in worlds apart - some in crime-infested Chicago neighborhoods and others in million dollar north suburban homes.

But they have more in common than you might think.

A bus ride of less than 20 miles brought inner city high school students to the sprawling New Trier campus Thursday afternoon in the heart of one of the most affluent areas in the country.

Thirty-five students from Perspectives charter schools in Chicago were paired up for the day with 35 students from New Trier.

Perspectives teacher Lindsey Schwartz and New Trier teacher JJ Hill came up with the idea while attending a seminar last year: bring together students from wildly different backgrounds and try to solve some of the chronic issues plaguing Chicago.

"The students have so much creative potential inside of them and we wanted them to be able to collaborate and really get to know each other, honestly, to work towards more peace in Chicago,” Hill said.

"I think we want people to see and learn from people who are really different from them, in terms of their life experiences and their day to day realities, but also to see that no matter where you live in Chicago there's something you can do about making Chicago a more peaceful place,” Schwartz said.

As part of the exercise, students engaged in a structured question and answer session on subjects like race and equality.

This is not a one and done encounter. Over the next couple months, students from New Trier will be travelling to Chicago to take part in an anti-violence summit and march with those students from Perspectives.

"New Trier is primarily white, it's 86-percent. I think for us it's really important we learn to break out of the North Shore bubble,” said student Sonia Holstein.

FOX 32: What can these students from New Trier do to help some of the problems your classmates are dealing with in Chicago?

"Actually they can help be a voice for us as well. They can basically help us advertise, come support, basically be a link, an ally for us,” said student Armaria Broyles.

The students also watched a documentary produced by the Perspectives high school students that led to more discussion about solving the gun violence problem in the city.