From Illinois Wesleyan University Magazine, Spring 2008
A Perfect Saturday
Alumni give students a taste of Chicago ... and home
Enjoying the spectacular view from the Sears Tower Skydeck are (left to right) Chao
Ren ‘11, Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas ’76, Xiangyu Wu ’11, Xinyi Wu ’11, Josh Marder ’03
and Weiyi Xie ’11.
Story by Amelia Benner ’09
A sight-seeing trip to Chicago helped bridge cultures and form new friendships between
international students and alumni at Illinois Wesleyan’s “Saturday in the City” event.
“It was without a doubt the most rewarding alumni activity I’ve ever participated
in,” said Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas ’76, who helped plan the first-of-its-kind outing.
Marianne came up with the idea for the outing after hearing eight international students
discuss their experiences at the “Walk a Kilometer in My Shoes” presentation during
Homecoming this fall.
“I was particularly struck with their comments about the foods they miss from home,
how long it would be before they would have the comfort of encouraging words from
their parents and families and the undeniable truth that they are so alone even in
their group,” Marianne said.
Realizing that Chicago alumni were perfectly positioned to show international students
the city’s history and culture, Marianne planned the trip with the help of assistant
director of Alumni Relations Trevor Sierra ’05 and International Office student advisor
Twenty-three international students traveled to Chicago on the morning of Feb. 23,
pairing up with a group of 16 Wesleyan alumni for conversation and sightseeing. The
alumni and students scattered across the city, visiting museums, cultural centers
and Michigan Avenue.
Sampling some Chicago-style cuisine are Class of 2011 international students (from
left) Golibe Ese-Echesi, Philip Adeleye and Mujtaba Isani.
Marianne and fellow alumnus Josh Marder ’03 took a group of Chinese students — Xiangyu
Wu ’11, Weiyi Xie ’11, Chao Ren ’11 and Xinyi Wu ’11 — “through the Loop, stopping
to take pictures on Daley Plaza and of the Picasso,” Marianne said. “From there, we
moved on to the Sears Skydeck. It was sunny, clear and fun to show off Chicago from
the 103rd floor!”
Afterward the students gave the alumni a taste of their own culture at a Chinese restaurant.
“They got to taste frog, liver, twice-cooked pork, spicy beef, spicy tofu and pot
stickers, all prepared in ways they miss, while I had the treat of sampling Chinese
dishes I probably never would have attempted if not for the explanation of the students,”
Marianne said. “Though my lips were numb from the spices, we had a great time exchanging
stories of school, parents, family and travels.”
Marianne said that alumni and students had a great time exploring Chicago and getting
to know each other — so much so that the group is already looking forward to planning
the next “Saturday in the City” outing.
“For me, among the best moments was probably the final one with the students,” she
said. “Xiangyu and Xinyi gave me hugs goodbye and promised to telephone their moms
to share the stories from our day with them. I knew for as much as the students were
thrilled, their parents would find comfort in hearing there were alums who’d spent
a day bringing smiles and friendship to their daughters so far away from home."
Click here to read more from IWU Magazine