The Chicago Chapter kicked off the new year by embracing the cold weather: in January, they hosted their signature event, the Winter Wonderland Reception. Despite frigid temperatures, over 100 Fulbrighters and friends of the Program braved the snow to make their way to the Alliance Française for warm company, food, and fun. The event featured speeches, highlighted alumni, and concluded with a dance.
The soiree was not only intended to bring together the local Fulbrighters from around the area, but recognize outstanding leadership within their community, too. The Chapter gave their annual Dee Sarelas Service Award to alumna Dr. Norma Fay Green, a Professor Emerita at Columbia College Chicago, in recognition for her service to the Chicago Chapter as well as her work that contributed to Columbia College being named a Top Producing Institution of Fulbright grantees. Dr. Green is a two-time Fulbrighter who first embarked to Denmark in 2000 as a visiting professor and then went to Morocco and Tunisia on a 2011 Fulbright-Hays grant. She spoke at the reception of her Fulbright experiences and her devotion to the mission of the Program.
The Dee Sarelas Service Award was established in 2009 to recognize outstanding commitment to the ideals of the Fulbright Program and contributions to the Chicago Chapter of the Association. The award is named after one of the Chapter’s founders, Aphrodite (“Dee”) Edith Floros Sarelas, a Fulbrighter to Greece.
Chapter president Meredith McNeil, a 2002 Fulbrighter to Turkey, was pleased with the success of the event. “The Chicago Chapter continues to take great pride in building the Fulbright community.”
“Our chapter stresses strong communication and excels at including Chicago traditions to our international student/scholar co-hort. We want them to know this part of the US and we want them to tells us their stories,” says Elio Leturia, a board member of the Chicago Chapter who is also a laureate of the Dee Sarelas Service Award. “That’s an exciting way to learn more about our world. In my case, I am also the Fulbright Campus Liaison at Columbia College Chicago, where I teach, so I’m always sharing the wonders of a Fulbright experience.”
The active Chicago Chapter continues to engage its network by providing exciting programming to its community. Chapter leaders note that they have the opportunity to showcase their beautiful city – even through chilly winters and humid summers – by highlighting the city’s unique architecture, landmarks, and culture. For international Fulbrighters, this is an especially meaningful introduction to the United States’ iconic “Windy City.”
“I’ve been a board member since 2008, and it’s hard but rewarding work,” says Elio, who once served the Chapter as president in 2011. “Fulbright is at the center of my life; it has become part of my identity.”