Delegation hosts two alumni gatherings in China

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Delegation hosts two alumni gatherings in China

Story by Taylor Kuether, Managing Editor

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GUANGZHOU, CHINA — UW-Eau Claire alum Jenny Chen traveled two hours from her home in Dongguan, China to Guangzhou, China to attend an alumni event put on by the delegation on Saturday. But for Chen and the other alumni in attendance, it was worth it.

“Once a Blugold, always a Blugold,” Chen said, “I wanted to come so that I could catch up with my college friends. Tonight is like a reunion.”

The event in Guangzhou was the second of two alumni dinners planned on the two-week trip; a Hong Kong alumni event took place last Thursday. More than 40 Blugolds dating back to the 1970s gathered to celebrate their love for their alma mater.

The seven-member delegation, led by interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet, hosted the banquets during the first week of their excursion to reconnect with Eau Claire students of the past.

“I think it’s very important for the university to remain in contact with its alums regardless of where they are,” said Karl Markgraf, director of the Center for International Education and member of the delegation to China.

“It’s been particularly challenging for most American universities to stay in contact with international alumni,” Markgraf said. “They tend to be mobile and once they return home, it just becomes harder to stay in contact with them.”

Markgraf noted the importance of maintaining those connections, as it helps build universities’ global competence.

“International alumni can do so much for us or for any American university as it tries to accelerate its global learning and as it tries to reach out and build and create and extend a network of opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to engage in the world,” Markgraf said.

The delegation met with 17 alumni last Thursday night in Hong Kong, a meeting that proved to be momentous according to Bousquet.

“This was an historic moment: The first time that the alumni in Hong Kong came together,” Bousquet said.

But what was an even greater achievement, according to Bousquet, was the formation of the first-ever international alumni chapter, which was officially created at the dinner event. The group even named its leader that night.

“Out of the enthusiasm of the alumni group came a chapter president-elect who is very enthusiastic about solidifying the relationship between the alumni, bringing the older generation and the newer one together,” Bousquet said. “I think it’s going to be a great asset for us here in Hong Kong.”

President-elect Joey Yeung, said he’s happy to do the job. Yeung, who graduated from Eau Claire in 1992, studied management information systems and now works at an information technology company
in Hong Kong.
“I’d been wanting to get the Hong Kong-based alumni together for some time now,” Yeung said. “This gives me a reason to do that. I’m really looking forward to our future alumni gatherings; they’re going to be a great way to catch up with one another and reminisce about the happiest four years of our lives.”
The alumni chapter ­— the first of its kind — is a major milestone for a university that aims to emphasize global connections
and partnerships.
“I think the creation of an alumni chapter in Hong Kong last night is a first step toward our beginning to build a sustainable network of alumni in this area,” Markgraf said. “When the alumni came together in Hong Kong, the room was full of love for UW-Eau Claire.”
Saturday night’s alumni gathering at Jinan University in Guangzhou was similarly successful, as 40 former students and faculty attended the dinner.
Eau Claire’s partnership with Jinan University has been going strong for 23 years now, bringing visiting faculty members and students alike to the campus. Both former students and faculty attended the events, sharing anecdotes throughout the night.
Alum Xiaojie Li ended the evening with a toast to Bousquet: “As a Guangzhou native, I want to welcome you to Guangzhou. As a Jinan University alum, I want to welcome you to Jinan University,” Li said. “And as a Blugold, I want to welcome
you home.”

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