Tag Archives: World Chicago

A fruitful 2022 for Fulbright Chicago

Fulbright students and scholars at the launch of the Mentoring Program.

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. 

Local Fulbrighters meet international Fulbrighters through WorldChicago Home Hospitality Program

WorldChicago President Peggy Parfenoff welcoming the Home Hospitality participants on March 30, 2021.

LAST MARCH 30 EVENING, WorldChicago partnered with the Fulbright Association-Chicago Chapter for the first online live engagement of the Virtual Home Hospitality Program.

This opportunity allowed for Fulbright alumni to connect with the current Fulbright Scholars, not only in the Chicago area but also in other parts of the country. Each Fulbright alum had the chance to connect with a visiting scholar for an hour and share one another’s experiences, discussing home, family and work life.

WorldChicago President Peggy Parfenoff welcomed all participants highlighting the collaboration with our chapter. Dr. Edel Jose, President of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association, added that both organizations have a history of working together and looked forward for live events but in the current circumstances we are doing whatever possible to maintain a strong connection and communication.

The 2021 Fulbright Scholars that participated in this event come from India, Italy, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Lebanon, Burma (Myanmar), Tunisia, Morocco, Georgia, Bulgaria, Tajikistan, Romania, Egypt, Algeria, Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, Jordan, Greece, Serbia, Turkey, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Colombia and Chile.   

Julia Sosnivka, WorldChicago’s Program Associate managed the virtual event and created breakout rooms for local and international scholars to meet. Besides Dr. Jose, the Chicago Chapter was represented by board members Marilyn Susman and Elio Leturia.

Chicago Winter Wonderland with 2020 Dee Sarelas Service Award recipients and Fulbright Program updates

Our 2021 Winter Wonderland and 2020 Dee Sarelas Service Award Ceremony went virtual this year.

By Suzanne McBrideDOZENS OF FULBRIGHTERS gathered virtually Jan. 28 to honor the 2020 Dee Sarelas Service Award recipients that included a past chapter president and a local group the Chicago chapter has partnered with over the years, and they got an update on the Fulbright program from the association’s national leader.

Fulbright Association Executive Director John Bader

Executive Director John Bader, joining the meeting from his home in suburban Washington, D.C., said the hope is the program, suspended in spring 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, will “return to normal” in fall 2021 in the Northern Hemisphere, with the Southern Hemisphere restarting in early 2022.

Despite the program’s suspension, Congress continues to appropriate money for it – something Bader called “quite extraordinary.” He encouraged all members to join the association in advocating for the program, noting “it’s very important for us to continue to raise our voices.”

With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, the Fulbright Association won’t be holding in-person advocacy days on Capitol Hill this spring as it normally does but will be asking members to participate in a digital advocacy campaign.

To mark the program’s 75th anniversary, the association is asking Fulbrighters to share their experiences. “We want to capture the full range of stories,” Bader said.

He also urged members to help promote global understanding with elementary and secondary students through the “Fulbright in the Classroom” program.

There’s no set curriculum, but the association has put together this toolkit. Members are encouraged to share their experiences as a Fulbrighter, including talking about the culture, food and music of the country in which they lived. Make sure after the visit – which are being held virtually – to complete this from and submit photos to the association.

Bader said when chapter grants resume, there will be a strong emphasis on interacting with underrepresented communities.


Monica Swope, the Chicago chapter’s first African American president, received the 2020 Dee Sarelas Service Award.

2018 Dee Sarelas Service Award winner Dr. Norma Green presents the 2020 award to Monica Swope.

The award was established in 2010 and is named for the founder of the Chicago chapter who died in 2007 at the age of 90; Dee Sarelas was a Fulbrighter in Greece. Swope, who had Fulbrights in Germany and Japan and is the founder of Learning Dimensions, is the eighth recipient.

For the first time, the Chicago chapter also honored an organization: World Chicago. President Peggy Parfenoff received the award on the group’s behalf.

Dr. Marilyn Susman, first Dee Sarelas Award winner in 2010 presents the 2020 award to World Chicago. This is the first year that the Dee Sarelas Service Award goes to an organization as well.

WorldChicago President Peggy Parfenoff accepts the recognition on behalf of the organization.


Attendees were entertained with the music of Chicago a Cappella, who performed three themes. Also 10 lucky winners shared in more than $300 in prizes awarded through a raffle.

Chicago Chapter board member Tatiana Orlova announces the first raffle winners.


  • Cupitol $25 gift card: Linda Jacobson
  • Amazon $50 gift card: Monica Swope
  • Cupitol $25 gift card: Ann Logue
  • Best Buy $50 gift card: Joan Miller
  • Cupitol $25 gift card: Lesby Velásquez
  • Starbucks $50 gift card: Jamie Truax
  • Cupitol $25 gift card: Erick Bertín Ortega Polito
  • Amazon $50 gift card: Ivan Adames
  • Fulbright gift basket: Peggy Parfenoff
  • Fulbright gift basket: Michael Schlesinger

Board member and Treasurer Adam Fuss announces the remaining winners of the raffle.

This was another opportunity to strengthen the Fulbright mission in our Chicago community.

Get ready against cyber attacks: Free forum


THE CHICAGO CHAPTER of the Fulbright Association, in partnership with the College of DuPage and World Chicago, would like to invite you to a Forum focusing on Cyber-security entitled “Shedding Light on the Dark Net: Cyber-security”.

The  panel will comprise experts including Yilmaz Halac, former Managing Deputy Director for the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), an FBI cyber-crime specialist, Prof. Tony Chen, Prof. Jason Wagner and Prof. DeJang Liu, a Fulbright alumnus.

Participants will discuss current online threats and prevention methods. Panelists also will discuss the threats in the cyberspace environment, and highlight the need for increased security, as well as take up the question of how institutions of higher learning are being impacted by this worldwide epidemic.

WHEN Tuesday, Nov. 14, from 2pm-3:30pm

WHERE Student Services Center, Room 2201, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, IL 60137 

(The Main Building on the COD campus)


The event is being organized as part of International Education Week and as the First Annual Fulbright Association focused event at College of DuPage.

Cyber Security for International Education Week

The Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center

By Mary Mares-Awe—TO CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL Education Week, the Board of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association, in partnership with World Chicago, and the Institute of International Education (IIE), invite you to a Panel Presentation on Cyber Security.

The area of cyber security of concern to virtually everyone using the internet.  We rely on the internet for communication, commerce, education, work, and data storage. However, with the extensive usage of digital data, there is an ever-increasing risk of personal information and intellectual property being compromised by cyber-based attacks. Cyber security involves protecting our information by preventing, detecting, and responding to online threats.

Yilmaz Halac

Yilmaz Halac

The event will feature an expert panel presentation led by an FBI Special Agent who will discuss Cyber Security at the personal level, and provide tips on how individuals can stay safe online. Another member of the panel, Mr. Then Yilmaz Halac, will speak about Security at the public safety level, using his experience as the Managing Deputy Director for the 911 center, during the NATO summit in Chicago.

This will be an excellent opportunity, to learn about this important topic from highly respected experts in the field of cyber security.

WHAT Panel discussion on Cyber Security, Q&A, and networking.

WHEN Thursday, November 17, 2016  |  5:00pm-7:00pm

WHERE  The Chicago Cultural Center
1st Floor Garland Room
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Use www.transitchicago.com to plan your route.

Refreshments will be served.

COST  FREE for current visiting Fulbright Students, Scholars, and Teachers. The cost is $10 for Fulbright alumni, each adult family member, and/or guest(s).

RSVP by November 15, 2016  using the form below.

You may pay in person with cash, credit  card, or online using PayPal (+$1 processing fee) after you submit this form.

Chicago Chapter participates in the 2016 International Women’s Day Celebration

Sheila Watt-Cloutier was the keynote speaker at the 2016 World Chicago's International Women's Day Luncheon

Sheila Watt-Cloutier was the keynote speaker at the 2016 World Chicago’s International Women’s Day Luncheon

By Mary-Mares-AweMEMBERS OF THE CHICAGO CHAPTER of the Fulbright Association and six visiting Fulbright students celebrated International Women’s day by attending the 15th annual luncheon at the Union League Club on March 8, hosted by World Chicago and the International Trade Club of Chicago.

Fulbrignt table at the 2016 International Women's Day Luncheon at the Union League Club

Fulbrignt table at the 2016 International Women’s Day Luncheon at the Union League Club

Attending the lunch were visiting Fulbrighters: Milena BerBenkova from Bulgaria, Eliana Solange from Angola, Eliane deLarminat of France, Aisa Lipscombe of New Zeland, Teuta Peja of Kosovo and Annie Khalid of Pakistan.

Representing the chapter were Mary Mares-Awe, President of the Chicago Chapter and Dr. Sandra Martins, one of the chapter’s newest members.

Mary Mares-Awe, President of the Chicago Chapter and Dr. Sandra Martins, member of the Chicago Chapter promoted the Fulbright Association at the International Women's Day Luncheon

Mary Mares-Awe, President of the Chicago Chapter and Dr. Sandra Martins, member of the Chicago Chapter promoted the Fulbright Association at the International Women’s Day Luncheon

The luncheon featured Nobel Peace Prize nominated author and, environmental and human rights advocate, Sheila Watt-Cloutier.  She is also the president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council of Canada.

During her speech Ms. Watt-Cloutier outlined the effects of human-made climate change on the lives of not only the aboriginal people of the North Pole, but on the whole world.  “The north pole is the air-conditioned of the planet”, she said and when that starts to break down the whole world feels its affects from severe weather to droughts and floods.

She also said it’s vital for the world to understand that “the actions or inactions of the global community are starting to impact very deeply the human rights of people who dependent on their environment on a daily basis”. She also added that it’s not just people who depend on their environment like the Inuit, but everyone is impacted by climate change.

TheRighttobeColdBOOKThe author emphasized the importance women can play in bringing attention to the devastating toll climate change is inflicting on people’s lives and the worldwide economy.

The visiting Fulbright students found the talk fascinating and the luncheon “just wonderful”, as one of them said. The students also expressed their gratitude to the Members of the Chicago Chapter board for their sponsorship.

Following the luncheon, students got the opportunity pose for pictures with Sheila Watt-Cloutier.  Some of them even purchased her latest book, The Right to be Cold, which she personally inscribed.

The luncheon was sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association and co-sponsored by the Institute of International Education, IIE.

WorldChicago’s Annual Young Professionals Career Night is back!


JOIN WORLDCHICAGO’S popular careers night: Four speakers from the private, nonprofit, and public sectors talk about their internationally-focused professional experiences.

WHEN October 13, 2015, 6:00PM – 8:30PM

WHERE 560 W Washington Blvd. Chicago, IL

COST $30. To register, click HERE

SPEAKERS Each featured professional will give a brief introduction on their career and the path (or paths!) that led them there. Then each speaker will lead a small group in a round-table discussion and Q&A. With four group rotations, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from each group leader about how previous international experiences influenced their careers and how they got to where they are today.

Gabrielle Buckley, Shareholder & Head of Business Immigration Practice, Vedder Price P.C. & WorldChicago Board Member

Joe Goldberg, Vice President, Global Affairs, AKPD & WorldChicago Board Member

Robert Neus, Diplomat in Residence, Midwest, U.S. Department of State

Kyle Trebotich, Director, Greenheart Travel

This event is ideal for young professionals, college students, graduate students, recent graduates, and those looking for new opportunities.

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.



Host an international student this summer!


By Elio Leturia—WORLDCHICAGO IS looking for homestay hosts for two upcoming June youth programs. There will be a delegation of high school students from Africa ​(ages 15 to 19)​ in Chicago from June 5 to 13, and a delegation of high school students ​(ages 12 to 17 years old)​ from India and Pakistan, from June 13 to 18, 2014

WorldChicago is still looking for ​ 5 more hosts for the African program and 5 more hosts for the India and Pakistan program. ​

If you are interested in hosting students please email Maria Krasinski at mkrasinski@worldchicago.org or John Baum at jbaum@worldchicago.org

Besides these there are other hosting opportunities this summer! See below.

 June 13–18: INDIA & PAKISTAN — Cultural Immersion
 July 10–24: IRAQ — Teen Health
 July 14–22: UNITED KINGDOM — Youth Dialogue
 July 22–Aug 2: MEXICO — Bullying Prevention
 August 12–23: CHINA — Exploring Community through Arts

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