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UW-Eau Claire delegation hosts two alumni gatherings in China

November 12, 2012

EDITOR'S NOTE: This news release was written by UW-Eau Claire senior journalism student Taylor Kuether, Grafton. Kuether is spending two weeks as part of a UW-Eau Claire delegation charged with helping the university strengthen existing partnerships and establish new relationships with universities, businesses and alumni in China. To read more about the delegation's experiences on the trip, read blogs by Kuether and UW-Eau Claire Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet.

Alumni at event in Guangzhou, China

Blugolds with UW-Eau Claire graduation years dating back to 1989 attended a Nov. 10 alumni event in Guangzhou, China, on the Jinan University campus. More than 40 former students and faculty joined the China delegation for the dinner event.

EAU CLAIRE — "Once a Blugold, always a Blugold."

That motto was reiterated at last week's University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumni events in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China, when more than 40 Blugolds dating back to the 1970s gathered to celebrate their love for their alma mater.

A seven-member UW-Eau Claire delegation, led by Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet, hosted two alumni banquets to reconnect with UW-Eau Claire students of the past during the first week of a two-week trip to China. The trip's focus is helping the university strengthen existing partnerships and establish new relationships with universities, businesses and alumni in China.

Interim Chancellor with alumni in Hong Kong

Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet greeted a roomful of former UW-Eau Claire students at an alumni event Nov. 8 in Hong Kong. The event marked the first meeting of a brand-new alumni chapter in Hong Kong.

I think it's very important for the university to remain in contact with its alums regardless of where they are," said Dr. Karl Markgraf, director of UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education and a member of the university's delegation to China. "It's been particularly challenging for most American universities to stay in contact with international alumni; 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 a way to help build universities' global competence.

"International alumni can do so much for us or for any American university trying to accelerate global learning and 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 Nov. 8 at a restaurant in Hong Kong, a meeting that proved to be momentous, Bousquet said.

"It was a historic moment, the first time that the alumni in Hong Kong came together," Bousquet said.

But what was an even greater achievement was the formation of the first-ever international alumni chapter, which was officially created at the dinner event, Bousquet said, adding that the group also 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."

That president-elect, Joey Yeung, said he's happy to do the job. Yeung, who graduated from UW-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."

Markgraf said the formation of a Hong Kong alumni chapter is a major milestone for the university.

"I think the creation of an alumni chapter in Hong Kong is a first step toward our building a sustainable network of alumni in this area," he said. "When the alumni came together in Hong Kong, the room was full of love for UW-Eau Claire."

Forty former UW-Eau Claire students and faculty attended a Nov. 10 alumni gathering at Jinan University in Guangzhou.

Jenny Chen, who studied at UW-Eau Claire from 2003-06, drove an hour to attend the event just to catch up with old friends.

"I made some of my best friends at UW-Eau Claire," said Chen, who majored in marketing at UW-Eau Claire and now works for the Dongguan government. "Those relationships last a lifetime."

Alumna Xiaojie Li ended the Guangzhou alumni event with a toast to Bousquet.

"As a Guangzhou native, I want to welcome you to Guangzhou," Li said. "As a Jinan University alum, I want to welcome you to Jinan University. And as a Blugold, I want to welcome you home."

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