LAST THURSDAY DEC. 8 evening, the Mentoring Committee of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association organized an informal meeting to recruit alums who might be interested in becoming mentors or who would like to become engaged in the Fulbright in the Classroom Program.
The gathering took place at Fulbright alumnus Michael Schlesinger’s Logan Square home who welcomed, along with this wife Rhoda, the mentoring committee members and the alumni who came to find out how they could be involved in the programming. Enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres, the guests learned about the Fulbright Chicago Mentoring Program, an initiative spearheaded by Dr. Marilyn Susman, who explained how current international Fulbright students and scholars have been paired with local Fulbright alumni to serve as mentors and support them navigate their stay in the United States.
This program was launched on Sept. 30, 2022, after a one-year trial phase.
Board member Suzanne McBride briefly explained the Fulbright in the Classroom initiative, a program that this year was recognized with an award by the National Fulbright Association in D.C.
Linda Spolleti, an alumna and a mentor, shared a potential new initiative of the Mentoring Committee that involves surveying current visiting students and local universities about services available regarding language comprehension.
Dr. Ana Gil-García, a past president of the chapter and board member, gave a report on the Fulbright Research Speaker Series, a one-year programming that included 11 webinars presented by local and international Fulbright researchers about different topics that started in January this year. Gil-García, as St. Augustine College Director of Academic Effectiveness, organized this program that counted with the support of World Chicago and our local Fulbright Chicago chapter.
Finally, Brian McGough, an alum who completed his Fulbright in Argentina, gave us an update on the expanded social media presence that includes the new LinkedIn page as an additional way to maintain connected with our Fulbright Chicago members.
It was a memorable night that reinforced the efforts of the Fulbright Chicago alumni who enjoyed being together while creating a caring community of Fulbrighters.
If you are interested in becoming a Mentor or getting involved and cannot attend, please contact Marilyn Susman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fulbright Chicago Mentoring Programwants the ideas and involvement of Fulbright alumni, who will mentor visiting Fulbright scholars and students.
This mentoring program was officially launched on Sept. 30, 2022, after a pilot program was developed and applied a year ago. It aims to connect our international visitors with a Fulbright alumni to provide support, guidance and enrichment during the time they spend in the United States.
You may also want to participate in Fulbright in the Classroom Program, by sharing your experience as a Fulbright awardee with students in our local schools.
This past October during the 45th Fulbright National Annual Conference, the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association was presented with the Program of the Year Award by the National Fulbright Association in Washington, DC. Through this Fulbright in the Classroom program, adopted by our chapter in 2010, local Fulbright alumni have visited dozens of schools in the Chicago land area during all these years, sharing the Fulbright mission with middle and high school students.
These programs can enrich your life while supporting visiting scholars and students as well as students in our local schools. We want to hear from you!
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.
ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2021, the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association celebrated its annual Fall Event, “Celebration of Fulbright,” commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program. In our first in-person event after 17 months, we were joined by alumni, current visiting Fulbright students and scholars, members of the consular corps, and friends of Fulbright. It was an honor for us to host Consul General Bruno Ruff of Switzerland, Consul General Wolfgang Moessinger of Germany, and Consul of Economics and Trade Monika Boksova of the Czech Republic.
For over three hours guests enjoyed an evening at the Cliff Dwellers private club, located in the 22nd floor penthouse of the former BorgWarner building overlooking Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. They were serenaded by the beautiful tunes of pianist, Elizabeth Doyle, surrounded by a backdrop of the Chicago skyline.
“The well-attended event offered an outstanding platform for sharing ideas and experiences amongst the numerous Fulbright alumni, docents, current Fulbright students, and members of the Chicago Consular Corps.”
—Consul General Bruno Ruff of Switzerland
Since March 2020, a series of activities and events have taken place virtually to maintain our Chicago chapter united. “We were so fortunate that even though it was virtual, a lot of the chapter was staying connected with us,” Dr. Jose said, thanking all board members for their participation during the virtual gatherings behind-the-scenes work. In her welcoming speech, she also highlighted last year’s International Education Week, which was led by our chapter’s vice-president Teuta Peja.
Guests were pleased to meet face to face again. “Yes, it was great to see everybody in person. Everybody was happy to be there! We should have more events in person,” María Salazar, a chemical engineer Fulbright alumna from Mexico said.
Chapter board member Dr. Marilyn Susman, offered a few words to the guests. She announced the creation of a mentorship program for the current international Fulbright visitors. Alumni and current students welcomed the initiative and expressed their interest to participate as mentors and mentees. PH
“The event organized by Fulbright Chicago Chapter provided avenues to socialize and brought a breeze of normalcy to the Fulbright community in Chicago. The event turned out to be much more than a networking session – it was a night to learn something new, celebrate special moments, and look towards the future with resolution and confidence.”
—Naida Softic, Fulbright student from Bosnia and Herzegovina
“The whole group was super excited about the event, and those who could not attend were a little disappointed to see such a beautiful view of the place in the group photos,” Colombian Alejandro Morales, master’s student in Museum and Exhibition Studies at UIC, said. “The whole organization is very nice … very comforting for all the scholarship recipients to attend these gatherings in person. Hopefully, as far as possible, it can be repeated.” PH “Let’s remember how much Fulbright meant to us, let’s continue to be Fulbrighters, continue to connect,” Dr. Jose said.
A VIRTUAL FAREWELL presents its challenges but here at Fulbright Chicago we are inventive and resourceful.
We decided to say adiós to our graduating Fulbright Scholars and Students with a Mexican food cooking demonstration and a mini concert of Latin American music, celebrating Cinco de Mayo and the Mexican communities in Chicago.
Communications Director Elio Leturia welcomed our members and guests giving us an historical background on the celebration, many times referred as the Mexican independence—which it is not, but rather the Battle of Puebla when the Mexican army defeated the French on May 5, 1872. Board member Dr. Ana Gil-García introduced our first guest, Nydia Castillo, producer and host of the YouTube show “Cocina Castillo.”
Castillo had prepared a delicious menu that included a Paloma cocktail (she decided to try something new—not the expected Margarita) and showed us the differences among tacos, flautas, tortas and sopes. The colors and the presentation of these dishes were mouthwatering. This demonstration was intermingled with music performed by singer Ana Santos and guitarist Dean Karabatsos.
The duo performed three songs: Contigo aprendí (I Learned with You,) bolero by Armando Manzanero, La Llorona (The Weeping Woman,) a traditional Mexican folk song, and Piel canela (Cinnamon Skin) bolero cha cha by Bobby Capó.
Fulbright Chicago Chapter President Dr. Edel Jose, who was on a work-related trip to Seattle, connected from the West Coast to welcome all participants, encouraging the departing Fulbrighters to share the Fulbright ideals of international education in their countries of origin. This message was expanded by board member Dr. Marilyn Susman, also a founding member of our Fulbright Chicago chapter, who discussed the role that Fulbrighters play in promoting our mission.
The event continued with the presentation of the names of all the Fulbrighters who were leaving the Chicago area after having completed their programs in the United States. Dr. Tatiana Orlova, a board member of our chapter, had prepared a Power Point to highlight them.
The event closed with attendees’ participation and to end our event with music and rhythm, Ana Santos and Dean Karabatsos had one more song prepared for us: Contigo a la distancia, (With You All the Way,) bolero by César Portillo de la Luz.
What a joyous way to celebrate a Fulbright experience!
By Dr. Marilyn Susman— RIGHT NOW, IN ADDITION to the major losses of life, jobs and income in society, each of us is experiencing individual losses such as the end of Fulbright grants, separation from family and friends, missed graduations, and other lost opportunities. We have also lost the predictability that we take for granted such going to work or class, having our favorite foods available in the grocery store or going to a local restaurant to meet friends.
Dr. Marilyn Susman
I have been in the field of psychology for many years as both an academic and clinical psychologist. I was fortunate to be a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia, Cyprus and Indonesia, where I developed long lasting relationships across borders. That is what we stand for as Fulbrighters—bridging cultural divides to build a global community. This pandemic is testing our core values, as we are now forced to shelter in place and avoid actual contact with family, friends and colleagues.
There are many practical concerns that other Chicago alumni will address. I want to focus on the mental health challenges that many may be experiencing. As the CDC says on its website, “It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry”. The challenge is how to find equilibrium in the face of all of the uncertainty in our lives. Developing routines that include the following will help you to cope with the pandemic, including the isolation and loneliness that sheltering in place causes.
A simple plan
Focusing on your physical well-being: Eat well, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
Connecting with others: Set up virtual get-togethers with friends and/or family. Share your concerns with them
Staying informed, but avoiding too much exposure to news: Information may calm your anxiety, but too much exposure can be upsetting. Balancing your watching, reading or listening to news with enjoyable activities will help
Taking breaks: Make time to unwind. Reading a novel, going for walks, listening to music, doing an art project can be an antidote to stress
Calming yourself with mindfulness: Many apps exist to help you to defuse your anxiety. Some are “Headspace”, “Simply Being” and “Calm”. Each provides for some free sessions. Practicing mindfulness is also an antidote to anxiety and depression
Being realistic about work: If working remotely, or on a project, set aside a time and place to work alone or in virtual meetings. Being disciplined may help you to accomplish your goals and tasks, providing a feeling of accomplishment. But do give yourself leeway.
Watch out for symptoms
Despite exercising the above you may still feel unsettled. Although the pandemic itself and our sheltering in place may cause each of us to experience some of the following, be aware when these become extreme or overwhelming.
Feelings of anxiety, depression, loss and grief
Changes in appetite, energy or activity level
Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
Physical reactions such as headaches, body pains, stomach problem or skin rashes
Worsening of chronic health problems
Anger or short-tempered
Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
So, what can I do?
If you are experiencing the above symptoms and want to talk with a counselor, many resources are available. Please go to the following crisis units depending on your locality.
These resources were taken from the Open Counseling list of resources for the Chicago area. If you would like to discuss any of these resources with me or to consult me about your particular concern, you can contact me at email@example.com
Chicago Department of Health, Bureau of Mental Health. Care that can provide supports for emotional, traumatic, or behavioral difficulties. Based on the needs identified by the consumer which includes goals, objectives and specific mental health services. For 24-hour assistance or to report a public health issue, call phone 311
Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago. According to its website works to eliminate the unnecessary loss of life due to suicide focusing on mental health for children, adolescents, emerging adults, families and veterans. Their programs uniquely covers identification, prevention and support. They also provide both a prevention plan (nutrition, environment, avoidance of food additives and other causes of mental health symptoms and illnesses) and education on brain health. 310 S Peoria St, Chicago, IL 60607 Phone 800-209-8114 or 1-800-273-TALK
NorthShore University HealthSystem. The Department of Psychiatry and Crisis Intervention provides a variety of crisis related services focused on the individual patients needs:
24 hour coverage, 7 days a week
A Crisis Hotline for those in psychiatric crisis
Emergency psychiatric evaluations to patients in the Emergency Department at all four Northshore Hospitals
Short term counseling
Evaluation and outpatient crisis counseling
Emergent medical social service calls
Workshops on crisis-related subjects to various hospitals and community groups.
Responds to community crisis when appropriate
OMNI Youth Services.According to its website, their mission is to partner with parents and the community to provide innovative, transformational behavioral and educational support services to children, adolescents and young adults. Their services include counseling, 24-hour crisis intervention, substance abuse prevention and treatment, family strengthening, juvenile justice services, youth development and community outreach services. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone 847-353-1500
Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center. It takes courage to ask for help. If you or a loved one has ever been sexually abused or assaulted, ZCenter offers free, confidential services in English and Spanish to support you, significant others and non-offending loved ones on your healing journey. There are individual or group counseling for adults and children. Zacharias 24-Hour Support Line 847-872-7799
Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline. Operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Rape Crisis Hotlines provides survivors of sexual violence and their significant others immediate support, crisis intervention and referrals for the city of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. The volunteers and staff at the hotline have received extensive training in sexual assault crisis intervention. The Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline is also the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) affiliate for the city of Chicago. Phone Chicago 888-293-2080 Phone DuPage County 630-971-3927 Phone South Suburbs 708-748-5672
—> Information curated by Dr. Marilyn Susman —> Illustration by Elio Leturia
Dr. David Sam, Visiting lecturer to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology; Rosmalawati Chalid, Consul General from Indonesia; Dr. Patricia Pérez, Associate Professor in International Psychology at The Chicago School; Dr. Marilyn Susman, Professor Emerita, Loyola University Chicago and Dr. Margaretha Hariardi, Professor, Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
A RECEPTION WAS held on March 31, 2019 at the home of Dr. Marilyn Susman, professor emerita, Loyola University Chicago —and Fulbright Association Chicago chapter board member— in honor of Dr. Margaretha Hariardi from Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
In attendance were the Consul General from Indonesia, Rosmalawati Chalid, a visiting lecturer to The Chicago School from Norway, Dr. David Sam, Chicago Fulbright Association board members and faculty from The Chicago School and Loyola University Chicago.
Fulbright Chicago Chapter Board members Elio Leturia, Dr. Kari Burnett, Meredith McNeil and Dr. Marilyn Susman.
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.
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 …
ON A SLIGHTLY overcast but fortunately rainless autumn day, the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association welcomed Fulbrighters from all over the world. The first event of the academic year was an architectural tour on the Chicago River that gave us the opportunity to present the beauty of the city of Chicago to the newcomers, and share it with the local Fulbright alumni.
Sixty eight people participated in the 2018 Fall Welcome.
“Sixty eight Fulbrighters, between members of the association and Fulbright students and scholars have come to participate in this event today,” said Meredith McNeil, president of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association. Students and scholars not only from Chicago universities but also from from Champaign-Urbana, Normal-Bloomington and Dekalb participated in the event.
At the base of the Wrigley Building, where the tour started.
The Wendella Tours boat left its wharf at the base of the Wrigley Building and sailed the Chicago River bypassing the south branch to reach the Willis Tower (ex-Sears Tower, the second tallest building in the United States.) There it turned around and came back to cross under Michigan Avenue and continued until entering Lake Michigan, from where we all could appreciate the skyline of this wonderful city.
Fulbright students and scholars enjoying the tour.
Among the buildings that stood out in this tour are the Marina City, built in 1964, the Merchandise Mart— that in 1930 became was the largest building in the (372,000 m2) and had its own postal code—the IBM building, the Civic Opera House, the NBC Tower, the Carbide and Carbon Building with its gold leaf top, the 333 West Wacker Drive building and its dramatic curved, green glass façade to the most modern Lake Point Tower and Aqua buildings, to cite just a few.
The Trump Tower, the second tallest building in Chicago.
At the end of the tour, the group moved to the Howell’s & Hood Restaurant, in the Tribune Tower building, another architectural wonder, where the scholars, students and members of the association shared a lunch and moments of friendship and camaraderie.
The entire group!
Fulbright students and scholars enjoying a good time at the lake.
Lifetime Fulbright Association member Jane Florine, an ethnomusicologist who did her Fulbright in Argentina.
Scholars and their families participated in our Fall Welcome.
Past recipients of the Fulbright Dee Sarelas Service Award Marilyn Susman (2010) and Ana Gil-García (2012).
The view from Lake Michigan.
Judy and Serafín Veramendi, and our boat tour guide.
Fulbright Chicago past presidents Elio Leturia (2011-12), Ana Gil-García (2008) and Don Garner (2007).
The city views from Lake Michigan are spectacular.
In this Fulbright group, Spanish was the language of choice.
At the patio of Howell’s & Hood Restaurant.
Three current Fulbright scholars. At the center, Teuta Peja from Kosovo.
Poland, Kosovo, Mexico and Peru are represented in this Fulbright group.
The food line is always a good place to get to know each other!
Another Fulbright group (all Argentines, and one Mexican) having a good time.
By Teuta Peja—SOME 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.