Tag Archives: Alliance Francaise

Norma Fay Green is the Recipient of the 2018 Dee Sarelas Service Award

The moment when Dr. Norma Green is announced as the 2018 Dee Sarelas Service Award recipient.

THE FRIGID TEMPERATURES of past Friday, January 25, did not prevent over 110 attendees from participating in the 2019 Fulbright Chicago Winter Wonderland Reception at the Alliance Française in Chicago.

The celebration hosted Fulbright students, scholars and alumni, members of the Consular Corps and guests representing 52 countries from around the world. This annual signature event took place in conjunction with the Dee Sarelas Service Award Ceremony.

On this occasion, Dr. Norma Fay Green was the award recipient.

Cristina Sisson, previous Dee Sarelas Service Award winner announces the 2018 recipient.

Meredith McNeil, Fulbright Chicago Chapter president requested the guests to pause the winter soireée and introduced Cristina Sisson, our previous Dee Sarelas awardee. Sisson, a past Chicago Chapter board member, presented the award to Dr. Green, highlighting the many ways she has contributed to our local association over the years, and called her a world-traveler. “When I say the world, I don’t mean two countries in Europe, but the world,” Sisson said to the amusement of the attendees.

Dr. Norma Green shares her Fulbright message with the audience. Green did her first Fulbright in Denmark.

Dr. Green is a Columbia College Chicago Emerita Professor. She taught journalism at that institution for 29 years until her retirement in 2017. She received a Fulbright grant in 2000 as a visiting professor in Denmark and a 2011 Fulbright-Hays grant to Morocco and Tunisia.

Upon her return from Denmark, Dr. Green set about to internationalize the Columbia College Chicago Journalism Department curriculum. She actively mentored graduate students, especially international students, who expressed interest in teaching. Over the years she modeled classroom management techniques for teaching assistants from Nigeria, Italy, Brazil and Canada and gave them a platform to lead discussions on topics of their own choosing relating to their homelands. She continued to infuse a global perspective in all 23 different courses she eventually taught and also created by regular study trips to Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Dr Green and Michele, a Fulbrighter from Costa Rica exchange stories.

She volunteered to be on the board of the Chicago Fulbright chapter and served from 2002-2004. She was admitted to the Fulbright Senior Specialists Roster in 2003 becoming a regular participant to the Fulbright Chicago events and activities over the years.

A jazz duo provided the music to our annual event.

After getting trained in Washington, D.C. as a Fulbright Campus Representative in Fall 2002, Dr. Green created and conducted the Columbia College Chicago Annual Fulbright workshop for faculty and administrators, until her retirement.

In 2013 Columbia College was officially recognized as a “Fulbright Program Top Producing Institution,” by the Institute of International Education, all due to her relentless work and guidance.

Past Fulbright Chicago Chapter president Don Garner talks to Dr. Marilyn Susman (2010 Dee Sarelas Award recipient) and her husband Gary Auerbach.

The Dee Sarelas Fulbright Service Award, established in 2009, is named after a founder of the Fulbright Association Chicago Chapter: Aphrodite (“Dee”) Edith Floros Sarelas, an early Fulbrighter to Greece. This award acknowledges the person or institution that demonstrates its vocation of service to the Fulbright ideals and recognizes ‘‘the significant impact on the development of internationalism for the Fulbright Association and the Chicagoland community.”

Fulbrighters and guests enjoy the food, music and inviting atmosphere.

Past Dee Sarelas Service Award recipients include Loyola University Professor Emerita and psychotherapist Dr. Marilyn Susman; Architect and Studio Talo Principal Thomas Ahleman; Northeastern Illinois University Professor and Educational Leadership Advocate Dr. Ana Gil-García; Columbia College Chicago professor and multimedia journalist Elio Leturia; American University in Bulgaria Psychology Researcher Dr. Ron Harvey; and Chicago Public Schools Spanish Teacher Cristina Sisson.

Student Representative board member Teuta Peja welcomes Fulbrighters and guests to the annual event at the Alliance Francaise.

Participants from 52 countries enjoy a night of Fulbright camaraderie.

Chicago Chapter Board member Dr. Kari Burnett plays barwoman at the Winter Reception.

Argentine Deputy Consul Marcelo Boffi talks to Honduran Fulbright scholar Joan Miguel López.

The Winter Reception provides another opportunity to meet Fulbrighters from all over the world.

Previous Dee Sarelas Awardee Cristina Sisson was a Chicago Chapter board member for eight years.

The Winter Reception, scheduled until 8:30 pm got extended for an additional hour.

Board Member Dr. Richard Hallett and Chicago Chapter President Meredith McNeil

Dr. Norma Green poses with her Dee Sarelas Service Award.

The fun continued with an after party at Moe’s Cantina in River North …

… with dance included!

Photos by Elio Leturia

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Last chance to RSVP for the Fulbright Winter Reception and the 2018 Dee Sarelas Service Award Ceremony!

THE CHICAGO CHAPTER of the Fulbright Association and the Institute of International Education (IIE) invite you, your family, colleagues, and friends to attend the 2019 Winter Wonderland Reception. Reconnect in the New Year with fellow Fulbrights and alumni!

We will also present the recipient of the 2018 Dee Sarelas* Fulbright Service Award.

Light fare and wine/beer will be provided. Live jazz music as well!

DATE Friday, January 25th, 2019
TIME 6:30pm – 8:30pm
LOCATION Alliance Française de Chicago, 810 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60610

RSVPs are required by Tuesday, January 22nd (last chance!) using this form.

COST This event is FREE for current visiting Fulbright Students and Scholars and members of the consular corps.
$15 per person for guests, family members, Fulbright Association members and Fulbright Alumni.

After submitting this form, please make your payment via Paypal (click here) or at the event using cash, or check. We are unable to take credit card payments at the event.

STREET PARKING is available, as well as a parking garage at 671 N. Clark Street, Chicago.

If you will be using public transportation, you can plan your trip with the CTA Trip Planner: www.transitchicago.com

If you have questions about the event, please email fulbrightchicago@gmail.com. We look forward to seeing you at the event!

*Aphrodite Floros Sarelas, an early Fulbrighter to Greece. A Chicagoan dedicated to interacting with and nurturing Fulbrighters in the Chicagoland community, Dee was a person remembered for her wit, empathy, and vivacity in bringing people across cultures together. Her educational background and professional experiences in the field of Social Work prepared her well for contributions to our chapter and beyond—as an administrator for the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army Training College, as a liaison at White House conferences, as a special consultant to Voice of America, and as editor of Social Welfare in Underdeveloped Countries (United Nations publication). For the foregoing reasons, the Dee Sarelas Fulbright Service Award was established in 2010 to honor her memory.

*Please note that photos and video will be taken at the event.

Get ready for the 2017 Spring Farewell with live music!


THE CHICAGO CHAPTER of the Fulbright Association  and the Institute of International Education (IIE) invite you, your family, colleagues, and friends to attend our 2017 Spring Farewell Reception and Music Performance.

WHEN Saturday, April 29, 2017

TIME  6:30-9:30pm

WHERE Alliance Française de Chicago, 810 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60610 (Please enter around the corner, at the Chicago Avenue entrance.)

This is the time to offer a fond farewell to the visiting Students and Scholars who will soon be returning to their home countries. The 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 as well as academic, and professional connections which will last for many years.

In this opportunity we are combining the Spring Farewell Reception with recognition of  International Jazz Day, a UNESCO designated day honoring the tradition and world-wide cultural contribution of jazz music, with a live musical performance.

The program will feature the music of Roy McGrath and his group.

Light fare along with wine and soft drinks will be provided.

COST FREE for current visiting Fulbright Students and Scholars and members of the consular corps. | Guests, family members, Fulbright Association members and Fulbright Alumni is $20 per person.

RSVPs are required by Thursday April 27, 2917!  Please R.S.V.P. and pay by using the online form or click on the link below: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfMd9JSp0wMb6cY2swSQ-PZ17uyAm6G2CvhtRmPNt0rSSjv8A/viewform?usp=sf_link

You may pay via PayPal by clicking HERE or at the event using cash, or check.

 We are not able to take credit card payments at the event.

PARKING Street parking is available, as well as a parking garage at 671 N. Clark Street.

If you will be using public transportation, plan your trip with the CTA Trip Planner: www.transitchicago.com

QUESTIONS? Please email fulbrightchicago@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you at the event!

Cristina Sisson is the recipient of the 2016 Dee Sarelas Fulbright Service Award

By Teuta PejaSOME 100 GUESTS  gathered on Friday, January 27, 2017 at the elegant auditorium and reception space of the Alliance Française de Chicago, for the  the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association Winter Holiday reception and Dee Sarelas Award ceremony.

Among the attendees were  Fulbright alumni, current visiting Fulbright  scholars, Fulbright students, eight members of the Chapter’s Board of Directors, friends, and family. The event was co-sponsored by the  Institute of International Education (IIE).

Left to right, the organizing Holidays event and Dee Sarelas Committee: Kevin Spitta, Elio Leturia, Marilyn Sussman, 2016 Dee Sarelas awardee Cristina Sisson, Mary Mares-Awe, Teuta Peja, Meredith McNeal and Yasir Al-Ibrahem. Ron Harvey (not pictured) could not be present since he is teaching in Bulgaria.

Guests enjoyed socializing with each other, exchanging Fulbright experiences and intercultural discussions. The attendees represented some 40 countries from around the world.

Fulbright alumni and guests enjoyed a pleasant celebration with great food at the Alliance Française in Chicago.

Delicious appetizers, desserts and drinks were shared by all attendees.

The delicious buffet style food served at the Winter Reception included vegetarian options and complemented the festive atmosphere. A jazz trio of  musicians from Columbia College Chicago provided the entertainment for almost three hours.

A Columbia College Chicago jazz trio offered live music during the event.

A group of visiting Fulbright students commented on the pleasant space and  added that events like this create a wonderful opportunity to mingle, get to know other Fulbrighters and exchange advice about living and studying in Chicago.

The President of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association, Mary Mares-Awe welcomed guests with a heartwarming speech highlighting the mission of  Fulbright to promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States, and citizens of almost every nation on earth —through cultural, scientific, and educational exchange. She also thanked board members for volunteering their time and being dedicated to the Fulbright mission and its ideals.

The special part of the evening was the announcement of the winner of the prestigious biennial Dee Sarelas Fulbright Service Award. The award is given in recognition to a person who has worked diligently over the years to promote and carry out the Fulbright Mission.  This year’s recipient is Ana Cristina Sisson, a long-time, dedicated Chicago Chapter member.

Cristina Sisson delivers her acceptance speech as the 2016 Fulbright Dee Sarelas Service Award recipient.

Ana Cristina Sisson holds a bachelor’s degree as a double major in Spanish and English from Colby College in Maine, and a Master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. She was with Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program in Uruguay in 2006.

Cristina joined the Fulbright Association and the Chicago Chapter in 2008. Since joining the chapter, she has played a vital role in organizing many cultural and educational activities and events for thousands of Fulbrighters. She has also served in the position of Chapter treasurer until 2016.

In addition to her commitment to her young family and to the Fulbright Chapter, Cristina teaches Spanish at Hinsdale District One-Eighty-One. Prior to that, she taught Spanish at the Ogden International School of Chicago, and the Chase Elementary Magnet Cluster School in Chicago.

“In the spirit of service, Cristina has been an integral part of the board, serving in her portion in a totally volunteer status. Those who chose to do so, do it out or their dedication to the Fulbright mission.  Cristina so richly deserves this award…because she’s done a tremendous job and is truly an inspirational person.”       — Mary Mares-Awe, President, Fulbright Chicago

Fulbrighters from all over the world gathered at the Holidays event.

Traditionally, the previous award recipient presents the award to the new Dee Sarelas recipient, but this year it was different. The 2014 Dee Sarelas awardee, Ron Harvey, the Vice President of the Fulbright Chicago Chapter, was not present at the event because he is on a Fulbright research and teaching fellowship to Bulgaria.

The Holiday event and Dee Sarelas Award Ceremony was very-well attended. It has become the main Fulbright Chicago event of the year.

Current Fulbright students attending Columbia College Chicago. From left to right, Cyril Bassil (Lebanon,) Calisto Lemashon (Kenya,) Shreya Singh (India) and Melissa M. Jiménez (Trinidad and Tobago.)

But although Ron could not be present in person, he recorded a short video speech that was played at the ceremony.  In his speech, Ron emphasizing Cristina’s friendliness, her engagement with the Fulbright Chicago Chapter, and her enthusiasm to promoting the values of the intercultural exchange through educational activities.

“Cristina is great at bringing the people together; she would invite visiting Fulbright over for dinners with her family as well as other Fulbrighters and expose our way of doing things with the visiting Fulbrighters. Cristina has the belief that you do not have to be official to have an impact in people. I can’t think of a better person to receive the Dee Sarelas service award”Ron Harvey, Vice President, Fulbright Chicago

Fulbright Chicago president Mary Mares Awe talking to the Fulbright students, scholars and alumni.

Upon the acceptance of the award, Cristina remembered her Fulbright year in Uruguay working with the public-school teachers and her work with the Chicago Chapter board upon her return to the US.  In her inspirational speech, Cristina spoke of Fulbrighers sharing the will and excitement of working toward making a difference in the community.

2010 Dee Sarelas recipient and Fulbright Chicago board member Dr. Marilyn Susman and Fulbright student Teuta Peja welcomed the attendees.

She encouraged people to join the board and participate in Fulbright-focused activities.  She urged everyone to get involved in activities even though they may be out of their scope of work.  She also advised people not to let the fear of not knowing what the job entails, to get in the way of participating… “When there is a need, take a risk.” She said in referencing her own resolve to take up the position of treasurer, when there was a need for someone to step into the role.

Cristina wrapped up her speech by emphasizing the Fulbright mission and legacy.

“I wanted to leave you all with Senator Fulbright’s words, to inspire us to visit local schools, ask a professor to visit their child’s school and talk about the Fulbright program, the mission and your home country or where you traveled.  Don’t let the fear of being overwhelmed get in the way…”

Fulbrighters using social media and sharing photos.

After hearing the speeches, Manithda a visiting Fulbright student from Laos, said “The award ceremony made people get to know and appreciate people behind the scene more. I didn’t know who were the people behind the scene who did the good for people in the front until that award ceremony. This encourages me to want to help and voluntarily work with the Fulbright  organizing group.”

Baris Mesci, a Visiting Student Researcher from Turkey and his wife Tutku Mizrak Mesci.

The guests congratulated Cristina on her award and praised the organizers —the members of the board—  for putting up such an amazing event.

—Photos by Kevin Spitta and Elio Leturia

Fulbright Chicago Winter Reception at the Alliance Française

holiday-17-dee

By Mary Mares-Awe—THE CHICAGO CHAPTER of the Fulbright Association and the Institute of International Education (IIE) invite you, your family, colleagues and friends to attend our Winter Reception and the *Dee Sarelas Fulbright Service Award Ceremony.

This event will present a wonderful opportunity to mingle with fellow Fulbrighters, make new connections, and solidify friendships while spending the evening in Downtown Chicago.

DATE Friday, January 27, 2017
TIME  6:00p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
LOCATION  Alliance Française, 810 N Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60610    phone (312) 337-1070


COST FREE to current visiting Fulbright Students and Scholars, $20 for each accompanying adult family member and/or guests, Fulbright Alumni and Association Members.
RSVPs are required by January 25, 2917!  Please R.S.V.P. and pay by using the online form or click on the link below:
https://goo.gl/forms/Bro5Lo0RnSRiydWq1
DRESS CODE Business attire is required; no jeans, t-shirts or athletic shoes.
Email questions or cancellations to fulbrightchicago@gmail.com

*Aphrodite “Dee” Floros Sarelas was an early Fulbrighter to Greece. Dee was a Chicagoan dedicated to interacting with, and nurturing Fulbrighters in the Chicago area.
She was a person remembered for her wit, empathy, and vivacity in bringing people across cultures together. Her educational background and professional experiences in the field of Social Work prepared her well for contributions to our chapter and beyond – as an administrator for the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army Training College, as a liaison at White House conferences, as a special consultant to Voice of America, and as editor of Social Welfare in Underdeveloped Countries (United Nations publication). For the foregoing reasons, the Dee Sarelas Fulbright Service Award has been established in her memory.

We look forward to seeing you at this event!