Making International Connections

Around the world, Northwestern alumni travelers enjoy local flavor with graduates who make their homes in foreign lands.

From Africa to Asia to Europe, the Northwestern Alumni Association is packing an added attraction onto some alumni travel itineraries — an international connection to alumni living abroad.

So far this year the NAA travel program has introduced its travelers to Northwestern alumni living in South Africa, Japan, England and China at dinners and receptions during their tours.

Last February, during two separate Treasures of Southern Africa trips, travelers took a break from their African safaris and sightseeing to meet alumni living in and near Cape Town and Johannesburg. NAA immediate past president Rich Dean (EB69) hosted a dinner at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, and Northwestern trustee Dan Jones (EB61) hosted a reception at the Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg. Dean says that the travelers and local alumni connected immediately, recalling shared experiences of living on campus.

"Northwestern is Northwestern no matter where you are," Dean says. "It was like we never missed a beat."

More mingling took place June 2 when 25 alumni living in Japan joined travelers on the Treasures of Japan tour for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Greeted by NU Club of Japan president Teruaki Aoki (GMcC70), former president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, guests were eager to engage with alumni from across the globe.

Later in June, as part of the European Graduation Tour for new graduates (see "European Vacation,"), members of the NU Club of London welcomed young alumni travelers to a reception at the Old Ship W6 restaurant on the River Thames. Suzanne Eddy (WCAS89), a business analyst who has lived in London for nearly three years and previously lived in Sydney, Australia for 12 years, said she was grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with the young alumni. "It was fascinating to compare stories about campus life," Eddy says. "We didn't have cell phones, the Internet or instant messaging when I was a student, and today, all of that is taken for granted."

As part of the China and Yangtze River Discovery Tour, NAA travelers learned about life in China from Carol Wolfson (WCAS83), author of The Last Pluck, her story about moving to Asia from the Midwest. Wolfson, who has been living and working in Asia for more than 25 years, offered perspectives that travelers would not have received from their government-hired tour guides.

Bob Shaw (McC70, KSM81) and Charlene Heuboski Shaw (WCAS70), travelers on Dean's South Africa tour, made a Northwestern connection of their own during their trip. A member of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science dean's advisory committee and an undergraduate adviser, Bob was familiar with Northwestern's Center for Innovation in Global Health Technologies (see "Early Diagnosis Equals Early Treatment," winter 2006) and its undergraduate study abroad program, which allows Northwestern seniors to work at the University of Cape Town to help address health care needs in resource-poor conditions. He arranged to meet University of Cape Town professor Mladen Poluta, who is collaborating with Northwestern on the initiative. The professor gave the Shaws a tour of the university, took them to a local botanic garden and joined the Northwestern travelers for dinner.

"The educational component of Northwestern trips is always outstanding," says Shaw. "Meeting [Professor Poluta] and the local alumni and seeing how they're making an impact were very rewarding. It made me proud to hear the compliments about the Northwestern students [in the Global Health Technologies exchange program] and what they've been able to accomplish."

View more photos from these receptions and trips.