By Ana Gil-García—ST. AUGUSTINE COLLEGE HOSTED the 2022 Spring Farewell event where more than 45 Fulbright visiting scholars, students, and alumni along with friends of the Fulbright Chapter and Consular Corps representatives, enjoyed a celebratory program on June 2.
Twenty-six years earlier, on March 26, 1996, former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley had designated St. Augustine College, located at 1345 West Argyle St. in the Uptown neighborhood, a Chicago landmark.
This higher education institution was home to the legendary Essanay Movie Studios and the film icon, Charles Chaplin.
Dr. Edel Jose, President of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association, welcomed the audience to this festive event that celebrated the accomplishments of fellow awardees who have completed their Fulbright program in Chicagoland institutions of higher education.
Dr. Reyes González, President of St. Augustine College highlighted the participation of our world community stressing the meaning of international education in a post-pandemic era.
Fulbrighters and guests enjoyed Latin American tapas and wine.
Following the program, Dr. Marilyn Susman, board member of the Fulbright Chicago Chapter and concept developer of the newly Fulbright Mentoring Program, delivered an assessment of the Program pilot, where local Fulbright alumni (or mentors) interact during their stay in Chicagoland with their international mentees. Dr. Susman explained the immediate steps that will follow the establishment of this brand-new initiative of our local chapter.
The mentoring program aims to support an incoming Fulbright student or scholar with their experience in the United States, and who could be better suited than a local Fulbright alumnus to guide and assist an international visitor?
Julia Sosnivka, Program Associate of WorldChicago (a long-time partner of the Fulbright Chapter) talked about both the partnership with the Mentoring Program and the Fulbright Research Speaker Series in which WorldChicago has a relevant role by connecting the Visiting Scholars with other organizations, among them St. Augustine College.
The highlighted speaker in the event was the Ukrainian journalist Yelyzaveta Korneichuk, an ambassador of peace and a Fulbright student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Through pictures and videos, Korneichuk showed the audience the Ukraine that she left behind compared to the bombarded and destroyed country that she may encounter as she prepares to go back.
After her moving presentation, reactions of solidarity and unity permeated The Atrium Hall of St. Augustine College, confirming the team spirit of the Fulbright family.
The Farewell Spring event concluded with a tour of the Charles Chaplin Hall and the Essanay Movie Studios, guided by Dr. Joaquín Villegas, a Fulbright Scholar to South Africa and Jamaica, and a founding member of St. Augustine College. The anticipated tour visit consisted of six stops at different points of the College’s facilities.
The participants had a chance to visualize this chapter in the history of the film industry, as Essanay Studios hosted celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, and first cowboy hero G.M. (Bronco Billy) Anderson. Imagining Charlie Chaplin dressing up in baggy pants, a tight coat, big shoes, a small bowler hat, and a bamboo cane was made possible as Dr. Villegas presented historical facts that included the 15 comedies, including the famous “The Tramp” movie, filmed by the remarkable silent movies actor since 1915 as he joined Essanay Movie Studio, today St. Augustine College premises.
Photos by Tatiana Orlova and Teuta Peja