Tag Archives: Holiday

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

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The 2015 Winter Holiday Reception —a festive occasion

Fulbright Students attending the 2015 Chicago Chapter Winter Holiday Reception at the KnickerBoxer Hotel.

Fulbright Students attending the 2015 Chicago Chapter Winter Holiday Reception at the Knickerbocker Millennium Hotel.

THE CHICAGO CHAPTER of the Fulbright Association held its Winter Holiday Reception at the Knickerbocker Millennium Hotel downtown Chicago in the early part of December. The festive, holiday setting of the historic Knickerbocker Hotel proved a beautiful backdrop for the annual celebration.

Fulbright scholars attended the 2015 Winter Holidays Reception with their families.

Fulbright scholars attended the 2015 Winter Holidays Reception with their families.

Co-sponsored by the Institute of International Education (IIE), some 122 Fulbright Scholars, alumni, consular representatives, students, and friends of Fulbright attended the event on Friday, December 2, 2015.

Fulbright Chicago Chapter President Mary Mares-Awe, welcomes our guests.

Fulbright Chicago Chapter President Mary Mares-Awe, welcomes our guests.

Guests enjoyed a delicious buffet-style meal consisting of salmon, chicken, and vegetarian pasta along with salads and a wonderful chocolate mousse for dessert.

Ron Harvey, the Vice President of the Chicago Chapter served as the Master of Ceremonies. He briefly spoke of his Fulbright experience as a Fulbright Scholar to Bulgaria, before introducing Mary Mares-Awe, the President of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association.

 Hon. Consul General of Pakistan, Mr. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, shares his experiences as a foreign exchange student.

Hon. Consul General of Pakistan, Mr. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, shares his experiences as a foreign exchange student.

Mary welcomed all attendees and in her speech reminded the audience of the celebratory focus of the event. “One of the main reasons to celebrate is that tonight we have 48 countries represented by scholars, students and members of various Chicago consulates.” she said. In addition, the alumni in attendance have visited 21 countries through the Fulbright Program.

Also attending the 2015 Winter Holiday reception, were many representatives from among Chicago’s consular corps including Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Hon. Consul General of India; Mr. Michael Wood, Hon. Consul General of Australia; Mr. Andre King, Hon. Consul of Barbados; Mr. Ihsan Sweiss, Hon. Consul General of Jordan, Mr. Toshiyuki Iwado, Hon. Consul General of Japan; Mr. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, Hon. Consul General of Pakistan; Mr. Ilker Pak representing the Turkish Consulate in Chicago, and the consulate of Haiti was represented by Ms. Marie Casimir.

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Hon. Consul General of India; Mr. Michael Wood, Hon. Consul General of Australia; Mary Mares-Awe, President of the Chicago Chapter and Hon. Consul General of Japan.

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Hon. Consul General of India; Mr. Michael Wood, Hon. Consul General of Australia; Mary Mares-Awe, President of the Chicago Chapter and Mr. Toshiyuki Iwado, Hon. Consul General of Japan.

“Another reason to celebrate”, Mary continued, “is that 2016 marks the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright program.” Various activities will be planned through the year around the theme of the anniversary.

Fulbright guests enjoying a lively conversation

Fulbright guests enjoying a lively conversation

Columbia College Chicago Jazz trio provided excellent live music.

Columbia College Chicago jazz trio provided excellent live music.

“And the biggest reason to celebrate, is our friendship solidified by our experiences as Fulbrighters” Mary Mares-Awe added in conclusion. After Mary’s welcoming speech, the Hon. Consul General of Pakistan to Chicago, Mr. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, gave a brief speech outlining the importance of educational exchange programs, by recounting his own experiences as a foreign exchange student prior to his diplomatic career. Of the Fulbright scholars and students studying this year in Chicago, Pakistan, represented by six Fulbrighters, comprises the second largest group after Mexico.

A jazz trio of music students from Columbia College Chicago added to the warm, festive atmosphere of the event with their professional-level performance of jazz music through the evening.

Photos by Jenni Schneiderman

How did you spend your Thanksgiving? Share your photos!

Aisha Malik from Pakistan, Mariana Tesch Morgan from Brazil and Gaetana Poponcini from Belgium spent Thanksgiving in Evanston, at the house of professors  Dave and Debra Tolchinsky

Aisha Malik from Pakistan, Mariana Tesch Morgan from Brazil and Gaetana Poponcini from Belgium spent Thanksgiving in Evanston, at the house of professors Dave and Debra Tolchinsky.

By Elio LeturiaTHANKSGIVING IS A NEW holiday for the visiting Fulbrighters and a new American experience in this country. I still remember my first Thanksgiving in the U.S. during my Fulbright at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was in 1990.

A classmate of mine invited me to her house to spend it with her family. I was not sure what it was going to happen. I had never seen or eaten cranberries. They were so exotic! I had eaten roasted turkey before (we prepare it for Christmas and New Year’s) but never seen a green bean casserole, pumpkin, sweet potato or pecan pie. There was also something called “Ambrosia salad” that had marshmallows. It was so different!

Papas a la Huancaína. Photo by Leticia Delboy

Papas a la Huancaína. Photo by Leticia Delboy

I brought a replication of a Peruvian dish called Papas a la Huancaína which main ingredient is ají amarillo. Remember, these were times were most people didn’t know what cilantro was and supermarkets didn’t carry it, so imagine trying to get ají amarillo. I improvised with some Mexican chile peppers—which were completely new to me. It was not the same but somehow it worked out. At the end, the objective was sharing.

So let’s share some images about how YOU spent your Thanksgiving! Please send your pictures with your name, country of origin and captions to eleturia@colum.edu

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JUAN JIMÉNEZ from Chile. PhD program in Science Education at Illinois Institute of technology

Thanksgiving ONE: An IIT classmate invited Jiménez to her house in Lisle, where he enjoyed the holiday with her family, eating, talking and playing games. Her classmate’s brother is an engineer who each year designs games to play with the family—even babies and grandmas.

Thanksgiving ONE: An IIT classmate invited Jiménez to her house in Lisle, where he enjoyed the holiday with her family, eating, talking and playing games. Her classmate’s brother is an engineer who each year designs games to play with the family—even babies and grandmas.

Jiménez spent his second Thanksgiving with classmates and friends at his adviser’s home.

Jiménez spent his second Thanksgiving with classmates and friends at his adviser’s home.

JIménez adviser "killing" the turkey.

JIménez adviser “killing” the turkey.

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IVY MARISCHA from Indonesia,  Masters Program in Computer Science at Loyola University and  SYLMINA ALKAFF, from Indonesia, Masters Program in Bio-Medical Engineering at Northwestern University
Sylmina Alkaff and Ivy Gladys Marischa spent their Thanksgiving studying but attended a Pre Thanksgiving party at the Indonesian Student Association of Illinois

Sylmina Alkaff and Ivy Gladys Marischa spent their Thanksgiving studying but attended a Pre Thanksgiving party at the Indonesian Student Association of Illinois

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AISHA MALIK from Pakistan, Masters Program in Writing for the Screen and Stage at Northwestern University
Aisha Malik from Pakistan, Mariana Tesch Morgan from Brazil and Gaetana Poponcini from Belgium spent Thanksgiving in Evanston, at the house of professors  Dave and Debra Tolchinsky

Aisha Malik from Pakistan, Mariana Tesch Morgan from Brazil and Gaetana Poponcini from Belgium spent Thanksgiving in Evanston, at the house of professors Dave and Debra Tolchinsky

 

2013 Winter Holidays Reception and Dee Sarelas Service Award Ceremony hosted by DePaul University

2013HolidayInvite

By Ron Harvey—THE FULBRIGHT ASSOCIATION Chicago Chapter, the Institute of International Education (IIE), and DePaul University invite you, your family, colleagues, and friends to attend our end-of-year Winter Holidays Reception and 2013 Dee Sarelas* Fulbright Service Award Ceremony.

WHEN Friday, December 6th, 2013
TIME 6:30 to 9 p.m.
WHERE DePaul University, Lincoln Park Campus
Cortelyou Commons
2324 N. Fremont St. Chicago, IL 60614

Cortelyou Commons is accessible from the sidewalk from Fullerton or Belden Aves.

A full buffet-style dinner will be served which includes salads, entrees with vegetarian options, soft drinks, coffee, tea, and desserts. Beer and wine are available at a cash bar. Entertainment will be provided.

COST This event is FREE for current visiting Fulbright Students and Scholars. $30 for Alumni, each adult family member, and/or guest(s). You may pay at the reception using cash or check. We also accept credit card at the reception or online via PayPal plus a $2 credit card fee. You may pay though PayPal payments after you RSVP using the form below.

RSVP by December 1, 2013 using the form HERE or by copying and pasting the link below into your browser:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1bCLYAzBt4OGOs2Oah8WfhPvdYVI3OnvMkm5pjaVDJVc/viewform

PARKING is available at the DePaul Sheffield parking garage just west of Cortelyou Commons. Attendees are responsible for their own transport and parking.

The CTA Fullerton Red/Brown/Purple Line stop is one block west of Cortelyou Commons. See www.transitchicago.com to plan your trip.

* The Dee Sarelas Fulbright Service Award is named after a founder of the Fulbright Association Chicago Chapter: Aphrodite (“Dee”) Edith Floros Sarelas, an early Fulbrighter to Greece.   A Chicagoan dedicated to interacting with and nurturing Fulbrighters in the Chicago area community, Dee is remembered for her wit, empathy, and vivacity in bringing people across cultures together.  The Dee Sarelas Fulbright Service Award has been established in her memory. We honor a local person for their outstanding work promoting the vision of Senator Fulbright.

Please join us in honoring Dee and the Fulbright legacy. We look forward to seeing you at our 2013 Winter Holidays Reception!

Next stop: Winter Holidays Reception and Dee Sarelas Fulbright Service Award Ceremony

The  Fulbright Association-Chicago Chapter and the International Institute of Education (IIE)  invite you, your family, colleagues and friends to attend our end-of-the-year Winter Holidays Reception and the 2011 Dee Sarelas* Fulbright Service Award Ceremony.

WHEN Friday, December 2, 2011
TIME 6:30 – 9 pm
WHERE Columbia College Chicago, 618 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60605, Second floor (Stage 2)

COST $15
Free to Fulbright students and scholars.
RSVPs are required.
E-MAIL Ron Harvey at fulbrightchicago@gmail.com by November 30, 2011

 *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 has been established in her memory.

Elio Leturia elected new Fulbright Association Chicago Chapter president

Joseph Graff from IIE, new president Elio Leturia and board member Cristina Sisson

Elio Leturia, board member of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association, was elected president of the chapter for the year 2011. Monica Swope, past president made the announcement during the Holiday brunch at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Elio Leturia talking to the audience after being announced as the new president of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association.

Leturia has been with our chapter since 2008 and is in charge of communications and media relations. A native Peruvian, Leturia got a Fulbright scholarship in 1990 and came to the U.S. to pursue a master’s in journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Three years after returning to Peru, where he was a university professor at Universidad de Lima and design director of El Comercio newspaper, Leturia relocated to Chicago hired by the Tribune Company. A journalist and a graphic designer, Leturia currently teaches in the journalism department of Columbia College Chicago.

“It’s a real honor to represent the Fulbright community,” Leturia said during the Holiday brunch.  Referring directly to the current Fulbright students he added, “I have been in your shoes and I understand your experience completely. Do your best representing your countries, share what you know and enjoy your time here.” Photos by Margo McFarland

Brunch at the museum

First row: Cristina Sisson, Megan Spillman (IIE,) Lisa Vásquez, Monica Swope, and Margo McFarland. Back row: Stephen Hill, Erika Cook, Jason Romano (U of Chicago,) Elio Leturia, Korynn Elliott (IIE) and Joseph Graff (IIE.)

No, it’s not a movie with Ben Stiller. It happened during the day.

Over 70 Fulbrighters got together to celebrate the 2010 Holidays on Saturday December 18th at the Museum of Science and Industry. A hearty and delicious brunch was shared during the last event of the year 2010.

Monica Swope, president of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association welcomed Fulbright students, scholars and alumni. The objective of this gathering was to celebrate the holiday season.

The event included a free visit to the museum where over 60 Christmas trees, each one corresponding to a different country, were exhibited. These trees represented the various cultures and holiday traditions and were decorated by volunteers from Chicago’s ethnic communities in an exhibit called  “Christmas around the world.” Photo courtesy of Anthony Charles Moody