European Harvard Clubs Keep Alumni Connected to Cambridge
How do you keep alumni connected to a campus that is 4,000 miles away? It’s a tough challenge that 59 Harvard alumni tackled at the Harvard European Clubs Leaders event on October 4-6 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Together, these volunteers manage the 39 clubs that strengthen the Harvard community in Europe. They were delighted to be able to share their challenges and successes with each other while hearing about the latest developments from Cambridge.
The event was attended by HAA President Catherine Gellert AB ’93, who shared, “Our club volunteers come from different backgrounds with different experiences, and yet now they all work together to make sure our network is the strongest it can be.” Harvard Club of Bulgaria volunteers gave everyone a special treat with a visit from the Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kristian Vigenin.
Promoting Harvard to talented local students was a hot topic for many attendees. A majority of students in some regions are not aware of Harvard’s extensive financial aid and assume that an education in the United States is out of reach. Clubs promote the opportunities that are available at Harvard, and many clubs have mentoring programs for local students. The Immediate Past President of the Harvard Club of Bulgaria, Rumen Beremski MBA ’93 said, “This is the least we can do for a university that made it possible for me and many others to study at a very difficult time in Eastern Europe.”
More than anything, the conference highlighted the primary purpose of Harvard Clubs: building community among alumni who live far away from Cambridge. Club leaders in Europe are an especially diverse group, representing many of Harvard’s schools and programs. Even with their disparate backgrounds, the unifying quality between them was clear – the depth of their commitment to the University. Perhaps Gellert stated it most succinctly: “They really showcase the idea of ‘One Harvard.’”