Tag Archives: Book Partnership

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

Hard working day packing educational materials for the Fulbright Book Partnership Program

Jenni, María, Ana Gil-García, Ron Harvey and Cristina

Jenn Schneiderman, Elizabeth García, Ana Gil-García, Ron Harvey and Margarita Lineros at the Ethiopian Comunity Center

García packing

Friend of Fulbright Elizabeth García helps our chapter packing books.

By Elio Leturia—ON SATURDAY APRIL 27, 2014, Fulbrighters and Friends of Fulbright got together at the Ethiopian Community Center in Rogers Park to continue working with the Book Partnership Program that was originally established in 2007.

Fulbright Chicago board members Ana Gil-García, Ron Harvey and Jenni Schneiderman worked with friends of Fulbright Elizabeth García and Margarita Lineros packing books and educational materials to be donated to schools in foreign countries and charitable organizations.

Fulbrighter Roger Fassinou from Benin, came to visit and discuss the possibility of sending books to schools in his native country

Fulbrighter Roger Fassinou from Benin, came to visit and discuss the possibility of sending books to schools in his native country.

During this phase of the Book Partnership Program, our chapter has donated: 40 boxes of books to Open-Books, 15 boxes to the Salvation Army, 50 boxes to Discover Reading, 25 boxes to Better World Read, and 30 boxes to Books4cause.

Background: The Book Partnership began in 2007 and has involved strategic relationship building between our Chicago Chapter and Fulbright Alumni Associations in different countries. Over the last 7 years, thousands of books for school-aged children have been donated. They’ve then been shipped to Fulbright Alumni in Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Moldova, Ghana and Botswana. The Fulbright Alumni Associations have then distributed the books to local NGOs and schools, and ultimately into the hands of teachers and children.

Distributing knowledge through the Book Partnership Project

Fred Siegman, Ron Harvey and Jane Florine

Fred Siegman, Ron Harvey and Jane Florine getting ready to pack books.

By Mary Mares-Awe—THE CHICAGO CHAPTER OF THE FULBRIGHT ASSOCIATION  is in the final push of completing this year’s book drive as part of its Book Partnership initiative. More than one thousand books have been collected from various schools, organizations, libraries and private individuals over the past several months. Most of the books have been sorted, boxed, and are now ready to be shipped.

The books will be donated to Ethiopian children and to students and children in Macedonia. We are in negotiations with Turkish Airlines for their contribution to this worthwhile project—shipping the books to Macedonia. Some of the Spanish-language books in our collection have been earmarked for children in Guatemala.

José Rodríguez, Jim Nowaczok, Ana Gil-García and Mary Mares-Awe

José Rodríguez, Jim Nowaczok, Ana Gil-García and Mary Mares-Awe

At this point many thanks to everyone  including José, Ron, Mary, Jeff, Ana, Jenni, Fred, Jim, Jane and others who gave up a  part of their  Saturday March 1st, and this past Saturday, March 7th,  in sorting, and boxing up the books. Also, thanks to and many others who’ve been involved with gathering and delivering the books to our storage facility at the Ethiopian Community Association in Rogers Park. This is a huge effort and anyone’s contribution, no matter how small or large, is paramount to the success of this wonderful project.

The books should be on their way to their destinations in the next few weeks.

Background: The Book Partnership began in 2007 and has involved strategic relationship building between our Chicago Chapter and Fulbright Alumni Associations in different countries. Over the last 7 years, thousands of books for school-aged children have been donated. They’ve then been shipped to Fulbright Alumni in Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Moldova, Ghana and Botswana. The Fulbright Alumni Associations have then distributed the books to local NGOs and schools, and ultimately into the hands of teachers and children.

Photos by Jenni Schneiderman

Ana Gil García gets the “Latinas en Acción” award

Ana Gil-García receiving the María Mangual Award.

Ana Gil-García receiving the María Mangual Award from “Mujeres Latinas en Acción.”

ON OCTOBER 2, 2013, our Fulbright Chicago chapter board member and Director of Membership Dr. Ana Gil-García, was presented with the 2013 María Mangual Award for her continued work to empower, educate and mentor Latinas.

Mujeres Latinas en Acción offers this award every year. This organization, a non-for-profit born in 1970, is considered the longest-standing Latina organization in the United States, serving to empower Latinas through services that reflect their values and culture.

The ceremony took place at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in the Magnificent Mile.

Dr. Ana Gil-García is a Fulbright Chicago chapter past president (2006-2008,) a three-time Fulbright scholar (Venezuela, Middle East and Armenia) and a professor of Educational Leadership at Northeastern Illinois University.

She was named as one of the 2010 “Top Ten Chicago Latinos” and one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics in the USA” by  Hispanic Business magazine. She founded The Book Partnership, an ongoing international community service project of the Chicago Fulbright Association to bring literacy to Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Egypt, Moldova, Ghana, Botswana and Ecuador in order to serve socioeconomically deprived schools in those regions.

More book donations!

The goal is to collect 5,000 books to donate to  socioeconomically deprived schools in other countries.

The goal is to collect 5,000 books to donate to socioeconomically deprived schools in other countries.

THE FULBRIGHT BOOK PARTNERSHIP Program keeps going strong. Book donations have also come from Chicago Public Schools. The following schools have donated approximately 1,200 books and instructional materials: Peterson Elementary School, Ebinger Elementary School, Bateman Elementary School, and Sandoval Elementary School. Thorp Elementary is donating 90 boxes of books this week.  We will soon pick up more books and materials from Thurgood Marshall Middle School as well.  We are very appreciative of the range of materials we have received from these schools.  They have donated picture books, novels, textbooks, and a variety of educational resources for teachers.

Lindop School in Broadview donated many books and resources for schools in need.  We appreciate so many schools in the Chicago area helping our efforts to collect books for schools in Macedonia and Ethiopia.  We are also very appreciative of our board members Ana Gil-García, her son Julián Serafin, Regina Mamou and José Rodríguez for helping to pick up these books from the schools.

Second book drive of the summer

Jeff Shaw, North Shore Country Day School teacher enters the Ethiopian center with his donation.

Jeff Shaw, North Shore Country Day School teacher, enters the Ethiopian center with his books donation.

TWELVE BOXES OF BOOKS were collected during the second summer book drive organized by the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association that took place at the Ethiopian Association Community of Chicago on Saturday August 17, 2013 from 9 a.m until 2 p.m.

Chicago Chapter board member Kari Burnett, and Elizabeth Pereira-Maguet, a friend of Fulbright, spent five hours working on this book drive, which is the second of this summer. Board member Ana Gil-García who is our membership director, is also coordinating this valuable effort, “The Fulbright Book Partnership.”

Kari Burnett and Elizabeth Pereira-Maguet at the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago during the book drive.

Friend of Fulbright Elizabeth Pereira-Maguet and board member Kari Burnett at the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago during the book drive.

Donated books at the book drive

Donated books at the book drive

This ongoing initiative’s goal is to collect 5,000 books this year. As reported before, the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association has donated books and educational materials by partnering with the Fulbright offices and associations in different countries. Books have been donated to Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Moldova, Ghana and Botswana.

Ethiopia and Macedonia are the countries that we will be partnering with in order to donate educational materials next.

Jeff Shaw, a Fulbrighter who spent one year teaching in Manchester, UK in 2000-2001, donated books in this drive. He is a teacher at North Shore Country Day School in Wilmette. “I had a great experience teaching in England,” he said. Currently he teaches library and technology skills.

Board members Kari Burnett and Ana Gil-García talking to Fulbrighter Jeff Shaw, who donated books on this drive.

Board members Kari Burnett and Ana Gil-García talking to Fulbrighter Jeff Shaw, who donated books at this drive.

Book drive for Ethiopia and Macedonia

books

DO YOU HAVE GENTLY USED BOOKS that your library is ready to discard? Would you like to see those books in the hands of students from Ethiopia and Macedonia who do not have books at their school?

The Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association will be holding a book drive! And we need your help.

WHEN  Saturday, August 17, 2013

TIME from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

WHERE  Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, 1730 West Greenleaf Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60626, Phone: 773-508-0303

People from our team will be there to assist you with your box(es) of books and to give a big “Thank you!”

This book drive is part of our chapter’s ongoing world initiative “The Fulbright Book Partnership” Program. So far, we have donated over 1,000 books to schools and universities in Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Moldova and Botswana.