The University of Michigan Alumni Club of Toronto was invited to attend a special reception recently hosted by the US Consulate General, Susan R. Crystal. The United States Consulate in Toronto, as part of their education outreach and public affairs work, laboriously researched alumni clubs in Toronto and invited leaders from the clubs to come and meet each other. You can be assured my surprise when I arrived at the home of the US Consul General to find many alumni clubs represented by leaders who live in Toronto. Alex Sirota, president of UMACT, and Cheryl Thompson, vice president of UMACT were present at the event and enjoyed drinks and appetiziers in a lovely backyard setting in Forest Hill.
There were leaders from several Ivy league schools including Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale. Syracuse, Penn/Wharton, MIT and Emory University were also represented. It was such a delight to meet leaders working to bring out alumni who live in Toronto and struggle with similar issues facing our club – getting good data on alumni who come to Toronto, developing events of interest to club members and in general getting people to come out to events. US Consul General Susan R. Crystal gave an inspirational talk that encouraged continuous development of the clubs and encourage international exchange of students and workers between our 2 countries. She told us all about a new program called Bridge USA and an existing visa option, called the J1, which is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain medical or business training within the U.S.
There was even a special “Ivy+” network formed to connect all the Ivy league schools in Toronto to network together and UMACT was invited to be part of the network. I encouraged US Consulate staff to continue to foster this network and find other clubs that may be forming here in Toronto. As we find out about more alumni events from other universities happening across the city we will cross advertise here on our website and on our Facebook Group.
Here’s a picture of our reception group, 30 strong, which include both consulate staff and alumni leaders.