While you may not have the opportunity as i did to travel abroad and become acquainted with some of our international alumni, you can read how the university’s global reach extends to nearly every continent on Earth.
From Seoul to the World
My trip to Seoul, South Korea, to attend this year’s international alumni meeting began in Beijing, China, where I spent the day with Hua Qu, director of the IIT office in China. Over tea, we talked about many things, both personal and professional. I remember thinking that for many prospective students from China, she is the first and often the only IIT person they meet before arriving in Chicago. The enthusiasm with which she spoke about the university was infectious. After our visit in Beijing, I left for South Korea encouraged that IIT has someone in China who believes its distinctive educational experience is a good fit for the young men and women she counsels.
In Seoul, in the company of more than 140 IIT alumni from Korea, China, Thailand, India, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, and the United States, that feeling of excitement was magnified. These accomplished individuals recalled their time in Chicago and at the university with fond memories, and often spoke of how proud they were of IIT and the degrees they earned—in law, engineering, design, business, the sciences, architecture, and technology.
I had the opportunity to meet their spouses and their children. We spent time together at dinners and receptions, took a tour bus to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and attended lectures at Korea University. Our discussions ranged from China’s one-child policy to the political realities of living in a divided Korea. They asked for enrollment updates and were happy to see how our landscaping efforts had transformed the look of Main Campus. Many planned to make the trip next September to attend the first global alumni meeting ever held in Chicago.
I left South Korea with business cards, many hugs, and invitations to visit the next time I traveled to Asia. On my flight home, it struck me that in presentations about the state of the university our international alumni and students are represented largely by numbers and percentages. I was fortunate to meet some of them face-to-face. While our numbers may tell a great story about where IIT is today and where it is going, our students, alumni, faculty and staff make that story come to life.