What an amazing 5 days I had in Ann Arbor, Michigan during the First Annual International Leadership Weekend. I started the UM Alumni Club of Toronto in 2011 with the encouragement of Klementina X. Sula from UM International Development. She visited me several times in Toronto and strongly implied that Toronto would be one of the main hotspots for international development across the world. Well it turns out, Toronto has ended up a short 6 years later one of the leaders of the international clubs across the world.
I was invited along with several other large clubs across Asia and Europe to join the University of Michigan Alumni Association in a leadership weekend that included tours of the football stadium (aka “The Big House”), a tour of M-city — the new autonomous vehicle testing ground, a wonderful set of lunches and dinners sponsored by the Alumni Association, an update on the Alumni club transformation as well as a best-practices sharing session between international leaders. The weekend concluded with a big football win over Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon. We got a chance to meet Steve Grafton, the president of the Alumni Association. We also met several staff members and directors of the US-based clubs and I learned a lot about the challenges, ambitions and transformation ongoing at the Alumni Association. Eun Ja Yu and Michelle Roney were superb hosts, even securing Michigan buses to take us all over campus to the various events. It was truly a VIP experience and I’ll never forget it. We were really treated like part of the Michigan family. I hope these events continue for a long time to come.
What can I say about the international leaders — they are bright, ambitious and represent the best of the Michigan experience. All of them went to school as international students, and returned back to their countries of origin to continue to support Michigan from afar. Brice from London and me from Toronto were actually Michigan residents that ended up abroad! I learned that international clubs in Asia have been running for as long as 60+ years in Taiwan. I learned that the Japanese and Korean centres at the University have built strong relationships with those respective countries. And in Shanghai and Beijing, Michigan is well known and respected. The alumni in Asian countries have watch parties literally in the middle of the night at 3 and 4am due to the time difference. Now that’s dedicated!
60% of the living alumni abroad come from Asia. In Canada, between 2,500 and 3,000 alumni live in Canada which is about 10% of the living alumni population. I estimate that at least 50-60% of Canadian Wolverines are in Toronto making a potential reach of about 1,500 UM alumni in the Greater Toronto Area. These are the best stats we’ve obtained to date, and that makes our goal of reaching at least 1,000 of the GTA alumni by the end of 2018 completely doable!
In 2016, Canada was the 5th highest country contributing students to UM behind China, India, South Korea and Taiwan.
I also got a chance to meet up with Cindy Gould from UM International Admissions and had a nice conversation about the international admissions process. We are forging a strong relationship with her team to ensure our recruiting events are strongly represented at the various college fairs across the GTA that happen in fall and spring. We also will continue to run our student send off events with the information they make available to us from admissions. It’s a great relationship that we’ve forged and will continue to help us grow awareness for Canadian students attending or interested in attending the University of Michigan.
On Thursday, I met with Rachael Criso and Jennifer Chuang from the LSA Opportunity Hub on Thursday for lunch. I thanked them for the 2 superb LSA international interns, Reis and Olivia, who helped our club immensely over the summer. We hosted our 1st Student Send off BBQ with their assistance, created our first club bylaws and launched our club website. At the lunch we decided that UMACT will have a goal of getting 3 more companies in Canada hosting LSA Global Opportunities International Internships next year. If you’re interested please contact the Opportunity Hub and talk to Jennifer. We are also thinking about how to make an international internship grant available for GTA students who wish to intern abroad through the various intern programs sprouting up in LSA, Engineer and the Ross School of business. Going abroad to intern is a hot topic these days!
Here’s a list of the alumni clubs that were represented at the 1st Annual International Leadership Weekend in Ann Arbor:
Beijing, China – over 4,000 living alumni
Shanghai, China – over 4,000 living alumni
Seoul, South Korea – over 2,200 living alumni
Toronto, Canada – over 3,000 across Canada (est. half in the GTA)
London, UK – over 1,000 living alumni
Taipei, Taiwan – over 1,400 living alumni
Hong Kong – over 1,500 living alumni
Tokyo, Japan – over 1,700 living alumni
Presentations from the Friday meeting are below. The global toolkit is a ready to use presentation for fundraising efforts abroad.UMAA Transformation Dave and Eun Ja
UMAA Fundraising Slides for INT Volunteers (Brodie & Bin)
2017 Global Toolkit University of Michigan Alumni Association