Southern hospitality

by Susan Czarnocki, MA'89

I could scarcely believe my eyes when I read the message in response to my fax: "Our chauffeur Alfredo will be waiting for you holding a banner with your name. We are arranging a get-together with McGill graduates on Friday at our offices."

Roberto Cavalcanti, PhD'81, offered a warm welcome to Susan and Bodhan Czarnocki in Brasilia

Interior of the main cathedral in Brasilia

Amazing! Someone in Buenos Aires whom we had never met was arranging transportation, hotel reservations and a luncheon with McGill graduates -- just because I was an alumna on a first visit to South America. Such was our introduction to Guillermo (Bill) Murchison, BCom'63, and his son Andres, BScAgr'88, scions of a Scottish family who settled in Buenos Aires over 100 years ago, developing a highly successful import-export business, Murchison S.A. Estibajes y Cargas IYC.

It all began with an invitation from Simone Spiller, MSc'98, a former colleague of mine at McGill, to visit her family who live in Porto Alegre, Brazil. My husband, who is Polish, and I, an American, had done most of our travelling in Europe or the United States. We concluded that it was high time to see something more of the New World, but neither of us spoke Spanish or Portuguese. We were planning a Brazilian tour when Alumni Relations Officer Trish Duff mentioned that she had recently been in contact with a very accommodating McGill grad in Buenos Aires, and that she would contact him on our behalf. It was his remarkably warm and supportive response that prompted us to expand our itinerary to include Buenos Aires.

Through the efforts of Bill Murchison's staff, especially Maria Martha, his administrative secretary, we were able to meet with seven McGill grads, including Irene Eisner, DipHous'93, and Jaime Garcia Ghirelli, BEng'92, who came to McGill from Argentina. Irene studied architecture, particularly low-cost housing options, and is working for a major architectural firm.

Rio's famous beach at Ipanema

Iguazu Falls, near the Brazil / Argentina border

Jaime studied in the Faculty of Engineering, and is now involved in the creation of a major Internet service, Argentina On-Line.

Dana Blas, BEd'77, Serge Papacotsia, BEng'90, MBA'96, and Margaret Sauvé Gallacher, BSc'71, are Canadians who are currently living and working in Buenos Aires. As a group, they were able to provide us with insights into Argentina that we could not have gleaned through any other means, as well as rewarding us with their interest in one of my favourite topics: McGill University. As a crowning glory, Margaret and her husband spent an entire day giving us a tour of local cultural phenomena, including the works of painter Quinquela Martin and a gaucho "rodeo" in the grounds of the former stockyards, providing some of the most memorable highlights of this incredible journey.

We traveled next to Porto Alegre, where staff at the university helped us track down a colleague from my days as an MA candidate in McGill's Department of Sociology. Maria Degani Veit is now part of the Coordinating Commission for the Program in Post-Graduate Education at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. She welcomed us warmly, and issued an open invitation to all of her McGill colleagues to come and visit her.

While planning our trip, we had found in the Alumni Association's Keep in Touch booklet a contact in Brasilia, another city we had been advised not to miss. The information was a bit out of date, but thanks to helpful people in Brasilia, we succeeded in reaching Roberto Cavalcanti, PhD'81, by e-mail just before we left Montreal. Like Bill Murchison's, his reply was friendly and encouraging.

As it turned out, our arrival in Brasilia was plagued with mix-ups, and no one at the airport Tourist Assistance office could speak more than a few words of English. Feeling rather guilty, but also somewhat desperate, we dialed Roberto's cellular phone number. His response? "I'll come right out to the airport and pick you up." Again, a total stranger reorganized his life to help a fellow graduate -- and on a Friday evening! Moreover, he devoted half of Saturday to showing us the architectural and governmental glories of Brasilia, describing his work in ecology and habitat preservation in between.

Our experience exhibited once more what so many others have discovered before us: those who come to McGill from abroad are a special breed of person, and their attachment to their alma mater is an amazing treasure, rebounding to the immense benefit of us locals to whom they exhibit such astonishing hospitality.

Susan Czarnocki is Manager of Computing Services in the Faculty of Arts

A Big Apple a Day...

Health Science graduates in New York
gathered at Quebec House, Rockefeller
Plaza, in Manhattan to hear Dean of
Medicine Abraham Fuks, BSc'68, MDCM'70,
speak about the McGill University Health

Dr. Menard Gertler, MDCM'43, MSc'46,
(left) with Principal Bernard Shapiro.

This is CNN...

A group of graduates from the Atlanta branch saw the world through the eyes of CNN on a studio tour at the network's worldwide headquarters in Atlanta this past November. A brunch at the Omni hotel in the CNN Centre followed the studio tour.

Louise Nelson, Dip'Ed'72, and husband Brian Nelson, CNN freelance anchor and former Montrealer, were the special guests for the day (second and third from left). Atlanta Branch President Heidi Allardyce, BA'79, (fifth from left) organized the event.

California Wine Tasting

The historic San Antonio winery was the locale for a gathering of California graduates. In addition to a wine tasting and banquet, alumnus Ron Fernandez provided entertainment on his classical guitar.

Joyce Coutomanos, BA'44, and Ann Garvai.

Left to right: Lou Reiner, David Reukema, Jo-Anna (Modugno) Yvorchuk, BSc(PT)'78, and William Yvorchuk, BSc'77, MDCM'81.

Ron Fernandez, MA'72, PhD'78, tickled the fretboard for the delight of fellow Californians.

Townships Trek

McGill Young Alumni took a hike up Mount Sutton in the Eastern Townships last fall, led by Barbara Holman, BCom'93, MA'97 (front row, in red McGill sweater).

Up on The Roof

Vancouver grads enjoyed an evening of music and film at The Roof atop the Hotel Vancouver. Guests were treated to a performance by a quartet and watched a screening of the documentary McGill, Mahler and Montreal presented by Dean of Music Richard Lawton, BMus'66.

Left to right: Organizers Nancy Mudford, BA'90, and Suresh Fernando, BSc'88, with Honora Shaughnessy, MLS'74, Executive Director, Alumni Relations/Advancement.

First Valor Tourney

McGill hosted a reception for more than 100 friends, family and alumni from Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum to celebrate the inauguration of the Valor Cup, a university hockey tournament founded by Vancouver businessman and McGill graduate Ken Megale. Along with McGill, schools taking part were the University of Toronto, the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia. Guests and tournament organizers were presented with a copy of McGill: A Celebration.

Left to right: Quebec MNA Jacques Chagnon, Redmen head coach Martin Raymond, BEd'90, MA'90, pro-mayor of Montreal Aimé Charron, assistant tournament director Dean Brokop, tournament director Hammy McClymont, tournament chair Ken Megale, BCom'82.

Bermuda Visit

Derek Drummond, Vice-Principal
Development and Alumni Relations
(right) was welcomed in Bermuda
this past fall by Ian Davidson,
BCom'67, Regional Vice-President,
Alumni Association Board of
Directors, (centre) and Dudley
Butterfield, BCom'34.

Brewing Up a Good Time

The Toronto branch held their holiday party this year at the Amsterdam Brewing Company, thanks to company president and founder Roel Bramer, BA'63, who provided the hall. In addition to fine suds for supping, there was musical entertainment by guitarist Jason Fowler, BMus'92.

A group of McGillians enjoying a pint at the Amsterdam Brewing Company.

Left to right: Colin Campbell, BSc'62, Director, Development and Alumni Relations (Ontario Region), Rosalind (Evans) Heintzman, BA'91, Malak Sidky, BSc'85, Louis Ampas, BSc(Arch)'85, BArch'86.

Relaunching in Seattle

Redhook Ale in Woodinville, Wash., hosted the relaunching of the Seattle alumni branch under the leadership of branch president Patrick Duff, BEng'75.

Left to right: Anamaria Teresa Lloyd, BA'77, Jane Blackwell, BA'57, David Carleton, BA'90, with son Elliot (McGill 2021), Erika (Laitala) Carleton, BA'90.

Seeing McGill Red

Florida alumni held a brunch at the Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel welcoming past, present, and future McGill grads. Guests were treated to a sumptuous buffet and a spectacular view of the Atlantic while branch co-presidents Larry and Claire Behar made presentations on upcoming events and the role of alumni in Florida.

Left to right: Allyn Lean, BA'75 (past branch president), Gabrielle Conea, Allan Stein, BCL'76, LLB'77, co-presidents Larry J. Behar, BA'74, and Claire Fleisher Behar, BEd'83, BSW'86.