Tag Archives: Meredith McNeil

Contribution of immigrant women to US economy, main topic of the 14th Intl Women’s Day Celebration

Front row: Elina Ruka, MFA in Photography Student from Latvia, attending Columbia College, Claudia Figueroa, Master of Public Policy at The University of Chicago student from Chile, Onontsatsal Gantsog from Mongolia, studying at Loyola University Chicago, Katerina Psimogiannou from Greece studying anthropology at UIC, Josep Mª Nadal Fdez from Spain, attending DePaul University and Shafia Imtiaz from Pakistan, MPP student at University of Chicago. Standing:Mary Mares-Awe, Fulbright Chicago Chapter Board President, Board members Marilyn Susman and Meredith McNeil, and PhD Public Health student Kate Vergara from Peru.

Front row: Elina Ruka from Latvia, MFA in Photography, Columbia College, Claudia Figueroa from Chile, MPP, University of Chicago, Onontsatsal Gantsog from Mongolia, Loyola University Chicago, Katerina Psimogiannou from Greece, Anthropology at UIC, Josep Mª Nadal Fdez from Spain, DePaul University and Shafia Imtiaz from Pakistan, MPP, University of Chicago. Standing:Mary Mares-Awe, Fulbright Chicago Chapter Board President, Board Members Marilyn Susman and Meredith McNeil, and PhD Public Health candidate Kate Vergara from Peru.

By Meredith McNeilMEMBERS OF THE CHICAGO Chapter of the Fulbright Association and visiting Fulbright students attended the 14th Annual Chicago celebration of International Women’s Day on Monday, March 9th. The event took place at the stately Union League Club of Chicago.

The event was hosted by WorldChicago, the Union League Club of Chicago, and the International Trade Club of Chicago. The Fulbright Association Chicago Chapter not only was a partner organization for the event, but, eleven current and former Fulbrighters and friends of Fulbright attended the luncheon.

The message of the day pertained to immigrant women and their contributions not only to the U.S. economy in terms of labor and entrepreneurship, but also to women’s role in academia in this country. Both Carole Segal, co-founder of Crate & Barrel, and Michele Wucker, Vice President of Studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, highlighted in their presentations the value of immigrants’ contribution to the U.S. at universities and in long term academic, and skilled careers.

Chicago Chapter President Mary Mares-Awe with members of the Canadian delegation Scott McCook, Coleen Duke and Paula Cabrera

Chicago Chapter President Mary Mares-Awe with members of the Canadian delegation Scott McCook, Coleen Duke and Paula Cabrera

Ms. Wucker stressed the importance of correcting immigrant stereotypes in this country by changing the focus to those who come for education and their children’s educations rather than negative representations. Ms. Segal lamented the brain drain that occurs in this country when student visas expire and how increasing the number of work visas would bolster the U.S. economy. It was refreshing to hear women of civic engagement discuss the importance of international intellectual talent that the U.S. gains from immigrants to this country.

Other topics included immigrant women’s lack of legal options, immigration as a political card, and the effect the politicization of immigration has on women. According to one of the featured speakers, women currently outnumber men in the “foreign born” category in current U.S. immigration statistics. This directly relates to the role all women play in strengthening families.

Chicago Chapter Board  Member Meredith Mc Neil at the Fulbright table during the fair prior to the luncheon

Chicago Chapter Board Member Meredith McNeil at the Fulbright table during the fair prior to the luncheon

The International Women’s Day Luncheon also featured a fair of exhibitors involved in international pursuits and women’s issues, including Fulbright Chicago, the Canadian Consulate, the YMCA, and the Consulate of Sweden, among others. The fair provided a great opportunity for the Fulbright Chicago representatives to engage with other attendees and discuss potential future partnerships.

 

 

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Visiting Fulbright students attend 2014 International Women’s Day celebration

Left to right: Ronald Harvey, Ander Indart, Isaac Mejia, Flor Fernandez, Jenni Schneiderman, Meredith McNeil, Preema John, Patricia Powell, R. Schwarting

Left to right: Ronald Harvey, Ander Indart, Isaac Mejía, Flor Fernández, Jenni Schneiderman, Meredith McNeil, Preema John, Patricia Powell, R. Schwarting

By Meredith McNeilTHE UNION LEAGUE CLUB OF CHICAGO played host for the 13th Annual Chicago Women’s Day, Friday, March 7th. The Fulbright Association-Chicago Chapter not only was a partner organization for the event (organized by WorldChicago,) but five former Fulbrighters from the Chapter and five current visiting Fulbright students attended the International Fair and luncheon keynote speakers. The five visiting Fulbrighters attended free of charge through the generous contributions* from members of the Board, and co-sponsored through IIE.

Board member Meredith McNeil gets an engineering lesson from visiting Fulbright engineering students Ander Indart and Isaac Mejía.

Board member Meredith McNeil gets an engineering lesson from visiting Fulbright engineering students Ander Indart and Isaac Mejía.

Attendees from the Chicago Chapter Board included Ronald Harvey (President), Patricia Powell, Meredith McNeil, Marilyn Susman, and Chicago Chapter member Jenni Schneiderman. Visiting Fulbrighters were R. Schwarting (Germany, University of Chicago, Sociology), Ander Indart (Spain, UIC, Civil Engineering), Flor Fernández (Nicaragua, UIC, Masters in Business Administration), Isaac Mejía (Guatemala, UIC, Mechanical Engineering), and Preema John (India, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Arts Administration and Cultural Policy).

Rasha Mohammed

Rasha Mohammed

All three of the influential and spirited speakers highlighted the main themes of partnership and the need for males, as well as females, to be active in women’s causes that work towards change. The two cultural speakers, Dr. Rasha Mahmoud Hussein Mohammed of Cairo, and architect Carmen Vidal-Hallett of Chicago and Brazil, detailed how females are “revolutionary” in their countries.

C. Vidal-Hallett

C. Vidal-Hallett

In Brazil, Vidal-Hallett made encouraging remarks about women’s involvement in environmental improvement, mainly through water quality.

Dr. Mohammed’s focus was on women’s engagement in the Egyptian Revolution and how this activity has led to more men becoming active in anti-sexual harassment causes.

Michele Ledgerwood

M. Ledgerwood

The keynote speaker, Michèle Ledgerwood of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), highlighted the seven Revolutions affecting our world today (i.e., information, technology, security, governance) and how women are both affected by each, and how women can affect each in a transformative way. Although the topics and speakers were varied, the message remained that women, globally, need to work together, across economic, cultural, and religious lines, in order to continue to better situations for themselves and their families, and that male participation and inclusion is necessary for future improvements.

Jenni Schniederman and long-time Board member Marilyn Susman.

Jenni Schniederman and long-time Board member Marilyn Susman.

One of our visiting Fulbrighters, Isaac Mejía, had this to say about Ms. Ledgerwood: “The key speaker showed what I expect in a female leader. She had a great background experience. The way she started her speech with current references grabbed the public’s attention immediately.” Regarding Dr. Mohammed, Mejía said the “presentation was a great show of diversity and leadership in the African countries. I enjoyed the pictures showing the empowerment of women through the last decades. It is extremely nice to hear of current examples that somehow will influence the women in countries like mine that are male dominated.”

“Attending the luncheon was a great opportunity to hear from successful and multifaceted women who are catalysts for change and leaders in their fields,” added Flor Fernández. “It was truly an inspiring experience.”

The Fulbright table listens attentively to Dr. Rasha Mahmoud Hussein Mohammed’s description of women’s involvement in social change in Cairo.

The Fulbright table listens attentively to Dr. Rasha Mahmoud Hussein Mohammed’s description of women’s involvement in social change in Cairo.

The afternoon closed with remarks from the vice president of the Union League, highlighting the well-known Chinese proverb: when sleeping women wake, mountains move.  It was an excellent call to action at the end of an event encouraging positive female engagement in today’s world and positive change for all!  The Fulbright Chapter attendees left with a great sense of optimism for the future.

* Thanks to Christina Macholan, Don Garner, Elio Leturia, Regina Mamou and Marilyn Susman

Photos by Ron Harvey