By Jade Stanley—THE BEAUTIFUL GARFIELD PARK Conservatory in Chicago served as the backdrop for the 2015 Spring Farewell Luncheon. The event, sponsored by The Fulbright Association-Chicago Chapter and the International Institute of Education (IIE), was held on Saturday, April 25 at the Conservatory’s Jensen Room.
More than 60 countries were represented by almost 100 participants including members of the Chicago Consular Corps, Fulbright Scholars, students, alumni, and family members who all came out to share in the special day.
The farewell gathering provides an opportunity for Fulbright Association members of the Chicago Chapter to say ‘thank you’ to our guests, and for visiting Fulbrighters and alumni, to affirm friendships, and academic, and professional connections that will last for years.
Although the day was gray and rainy, the Garfield Park Conservatory was a wonderful place to visit as the plants and flowers were in full bloom, reminding us of warmer days to come. It’s one of the largest and most stunning conservatories in the nation and has been referred to as “landscape art under glass.” Thousands of plants are grown here each year. The Conservatory itself is located in Garfield Park, a 184-acre site.
In her welcoming speech, Chapter President, Mary Mares-Awe, praised the beauty of nature’s environment as showcased by the Conservatory, but she also reminded us of nature’s destructive force – exemplified that day by the mass-scale earthquake in Nepal.
Mary said “nature is something we can’t control, but we do have influence over human relationships in trying to prevent war and destruction.” She encouraged those present to “use Fulbright as a platform to strengthen bonds, build friendships and promote peaceful coexistence” among people around the world.
Guests at the luncheon enjoyed a delicious meal catered by Wishbone, a southern-inspired restaurant. The menu included blackened catfish, baked chicken, fresh mixed greens, southern-style mashed potatoes, and cornbread.
The following are an example of some of the comments expressed by the attendees:
Joan Clarke, a visiting scholar, completed her Fulbright in Jamaica and commented on the exciting year she had in Chicago and how it has inspired her to continue her research.
Norma Green, journalism professor at Columbia College Chicago, completed her Fulbright in Denmark and later a Fulbright-Hays in Morocco and Tunisia and stated she loves to come out and participate in Fulbright sponsored events, which provides and opportunity to share her experiences and learn what other Fulbrighters are doing both in Chicago and around the world. John Corbett accompanies her to these events and also commented on the richness of the exchanges.
Kukunda Elizabeth Bacwayo, visiting scholar from Uganda, has had a remarkable year in Chicago teaching and conducting research and is hopeful to extend her time here in Chicago to continue her work and continue to develop rich friendships and relationships with other Fulbright scholars.
The Chicago Board members of the Fulbright Association want to thank everyone for coming out and participating in our Spring Farewell and wish each of you a safe journey home and best wishes on all of your future endeavors.