Thursday, April 17, 2008

Alumni Love Stories

These are all fantastic! Note: you might not want to have a drink in your hand when you read John Tuschman's's hilarious!

Please submit your love story to me at Or tell me who has a good one (and I'll pester them to write it up for us).

John Tuschman:
I was first Exec.Director of AIESEC-US and set up the US national office in 1960-61 in NYC. One day I called upon Dr. Albert Ayers, Chairman of our Board and head of the Education Dept. at Hill & Knowlton P/R. He had a wonderful, beautiful, smart private secretary from N.Carolina named Julia Love Read. Your faithful first E.D. was smitten, and henceforth of course had to have many in-person meetings with our Board Chair. One day after typing a long report for me, Julia Love asked if she could do anything else for me. I replied, sure, maybe she could… sit on my lap! I almost got slugged. I am pleased to report, it took awhile, but eventually the atmosphere in Dr. Ayers office did thaw. So much so, that your hardworking first national-office guru and the great secretary were married in Henderson, NC. on June 10, 1961. They moved to Houston, TX., where they continued to set up many more LC’s at Texas universities, to host AIESEC student interns for many years, and of course, to multiply. The end.

Sal and Kia Venegas:
Sal and I had known each other in AIESEC in the late 90’s. I was at KU and Sal at Marquette. We were in the same region and had been running into each other for years. We were always friendly; our first memory of each other is having a long conversation at NLS in San Jose. After we graduated, we kind of forgot about each other. I went to work for a company in Kansas City and Sal went to work in Poland with AIESEC. A couple of years later I moved to Chicago with my company. Sal had also come back from Poland and was working here. We ran into each other at an AIESEC alumni event, soon started dating and got married in 2003 in the presence of lots of AIESEC alumni. We now have a two-year old daughter and another on the way!

Jonathan and Karen Thigpen

Jonathan and I knew each other casually throughout our time in AIESEC as college students…I was a member of AIESEC Michigan and he at Georgia Tech. We had met at a couple of the national conferences but neither one of us felt major sparks until the 40th Anniversary Gala in 1998. I was the coordinator for the event and had begun looking over the list of attendees when I jokingly told a couple of the national staffers that I had agreed to organize the event with the sole intention of meeting my future husband. I had already served a year on the national staff and had heard the saying over and over again that 1 out of 3 AIESECers marry another AIESECer…Since I was in my final year with the organization, I figured that time was ticking for me to find out if those odds pertained to me. I scanned the list of paid alums and noticed Jonathan Thigpen's name. I recalled him being a tall, handsome, Southern gentleman and was curious what had come of him after college. I also recalled that we shared a mutual friend, Peter Stewart. Peter and I had gotten to know each other when he was the coordinator for IC in Atlanta and I recalled sharing with him my dating woes and disaster stories from the NYC singles scene. Several times he had encouraged me back then to meet his friend Jonathan and assured me he was exactly what I was looking for in a mate. Now back then, Jonathan was living in South Florida and I had little or no interest in being set up with someone who lived in another state. So I repeatedly declined Peter's offer to set us up. But, something made me call up Peter and get the scoop on Jonathan as the gala approached. Peter shared a little bit about what Jonathan was doing these days and to be honest, he sounded like he was doing great. Both men arrived in NYC and Jonathan was even more handsome than I remembered. We spent a good deal of the gala chatting and the following night getting to know each other. By the end of the weekend, we agreed to stay in touch and did so through a NYC – South Florida romance for the following 8 months (we have Sarah Endline and Peter Stewart to thank for encouraging this courtship). Shortly thereafter, I found myself leaving NYC in rental truck moving to South Florida and married just one year later. We have since moved to Central Florida where Jonathan heads up a civil engineering firm and I serve as a sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics from my home. Our oldest son, Jacob is 4, our daughter, Ava, is 2 1/2 and by the time this story is published, our third child will be born. We'll be married eight years in June. And as you might guess, Sarah Endline, Peter Stewart and my then roommate, Heather Blahnik were all members of our wedding party. I look back at my AIESEC days and know there were many times I lacked sense or judgment… luckily pursuing Jonathan was not one of them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Only in AIESEC...

Here is a fun account of the alumni ski weekend by Alissa Ginsberg. Enjoy!

Another AIESEC Adventure

The man asked me to read my credit card number aloud, “Yo soy ciego.” Not the words you want to hear from the mouth of a man behind a steering wheel, but it was raining and I was lucky to have gotten a taxi in the first place. We headed to LaGuardia International Airport, but for this AIESEC adventure the domestic terminal was all I needed. Four hours later, I awoke to the sunshine and crisp spring air of the Colorado Rockies. Perhaps a bit of jet fuel in the mix, but it was clear my weekend getaway had begun. A short drive through the mountains, and I arrived at the 7000 square foot mansion where I was to stay for the next three days. This was no crashing on a beer-stained couch the night before Cabrew. It started off fairly tame – introductions, a drink… or two. Gradually, more sun-baked faces tracked snow through the halls and filled in the kitchen. Every good party starts in the kitchen. I listened jealously to stories of a day spent skiing, snowshoeing, hot-tubbing and napping. My time would come.

By dinner, twenty-six alumni were sharing stories of their year in Egypt, their six years in Argentina, and their childhood in Estonia. After college, I had moved to Los Angeles, where I knew not a soul. Some guy who had spent a summer in Greece made a presentation once at an LC meeting. I remembered him for his red plaid pants and the sign his Athens Welcoming Committee had greeted him with at the airport: “Tristan Hendy is Trendy.” Hadn’t he moved out to LA? I looked him up, and sure enough, he was soon my closest friend. One day, he was nothing but a catchy phrase, and the next I was living on his couch. Only in AIESEC. Two years later, I moved to New York knowing but two people and remembering the names (and legends) of a few more. It took only a week for me to feel like I was on a traineeship right here at home. And now, two hours in Colorado, a state where I knew not a soul, I am at dinner with twenty-six friends. I spent a weekend cooking, snowboarding, discussing international politics, and several other activities not fit for print. I came home with a goggle tan, a hangover, and a pocket full of business cards.

At some point all those smart, go-getter kids from college had grown up. They still know how to party, but along the way they had gone and got. They have started the businesses we had talked about starting, they went the places we had talked about traveling, and they were the people we had talked about being. I went snowboarding the following day, yet I came home talking about my aspirations, my beliefs, and what the people I know are doing to make the world a better place. Only in AIESEC.