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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 83, Number 1 (Nov. 1981)

Murphy, Tom
Fiesta weekend,   pp. 14-15


Page 14


Fiesta Weekend
n Friday, September 18, the Wis-
        consin Alumni Club of Mexico
        brought off an historic first by
flying eighty-seven of its members and their
families to Madison for the weekend. Their
chartered plane from Mexico City and
Monterrey landed at 6:30 P.M.-about two
hours late-and they climbed eagerly
aboard special buses that took them to their
rooms at Howard Johnson's on the south
edge of the campus. There they had only
enough time to change before hurrying to
Eagle Heights for a fiesta hosted by the
Mexican Students Association.
   The recreation room at Eagle Heights is
bright and cheerful and about the size of
Great Hall. By 7:30 it was crowded. Fabio
Gaxiola, the president of MSA, said he ex-
pected about 260; there were the students
from the association with their spouses and
handsome, polite children with large brown
eyes, and there were old friends of the visi-
tors-favorite faculty and people from the
campus offices who'd worked with them in
their student days. The reunion enthusiasm
was boundless and the sound-level high.
Because the tables took up most of the floor
space and were set so closely together,
there was very little milling around. Most of
the guests picked up a drink from the small
bar (they could have beer, wine or mar-
garitas), took a seat at a table and visited
within that orbit. Others threaded gingerly
between tables; the best way to get from
one side of the room to the other was to
skirt the dining area, crossing a terraced
section that forms a low stage just inside the
entrance. One of the terrace-crossers was
Paul Meyer '49, an insurance broker in
Madison, whose wife Victoria (Junco) has
taught Spanish and Portuguese here since
1954. She is a native of Mexico City. "I
haven't seen some of these people for ten
years," Paul shouted over his shoulder on
his way toward someone at the far side of
the room.
    Two of the visitors were Henry ('54) and
 Nancy (Rogers '56) Schlicting. He has been
 general manager of Parker (Pen) Mexicana
 since 1979, and as he made introductions
 and talked with his fellow travelers, I com-
 mented that his Spanish was awe-inspiring.
 "I didn't just learn it," he said. "We lived in
 South America for twelve years before we
 came back to the States the last time."
 Henry introduced Marcelo Perez Ph.D.'77,
 a thin, smiling man who is the club secre-
 tary; and its president, Jesus Guzman
 MS'52.
   "Marcelo Perez was instrumental in
starting the club in 1978," Henry said. "He
and Guillermo Sober6n and Edmundo
Flores. And Flores always includes Pat
Lucy, who was Ambassador to Mexico at
the time." He handed me a typed roster of
the club's officers. Besides himself, Guz-
man and Perez, it lists Leonardo Jimenez
MS'62,Ph.D.'69; Edmundo Calva, Jr.
MS'72, Ph.D.'78; and Carlos DeLeon
MS'65, Ph.D.'66. (All but Jimenez were
here.) The club's honorary president and,
indeed, the pater familias of the travelers, is
Edmundo Flores MS'47, Ph.D.'48, a be-
nign, portly man. With his shoulder-length
white hair, goatee and beard, he bears a re-
markable resemblance to Colonel Sanders.
Flores had suggested the trip-they began
planning last July-and he had miracu-
lously inveigled a plane when, the*night be-
fore departure, the one they'd chartered
became unavailable. He is director general
of the National College of Science and
Technology in Mexico City.
   Jesus Guzman majored in biochemistry
 and is on the faculty at the National Univer-
 sity of Mexico. Marcelo Perez earned his
 degrees in dairy science; he is the program
 coordinator for Mexico's National Institute
 for Animal Research. "I was back here in
 1979," Marcelo said. "I am practically a
 commuter."
   Henry Schlicting pulled a newspaper
 clipping from his pocket. "I wanted you to
 see this. We are particularly proud of Guil-
 lermo Sober6n," he said. The clipping was
 from The News, which is the largest of Mex-
 ico City's two English-language papers.
 This was an editorial, dated August 8, titled
 "Faith in the Future," and applauding Pres-
 ident Portillo's newly formed National
 Health Services. Guillermo Sober6n
 Ph.D.'57 has been appointed coordinator
 for the dozens of agencies involved, "the
 very integration of which into a single-unit
 system would seemingly require a miracle."
 But, continues The News, he is "eminently
 qualified," in part because of his great suc-
 cess as former rector of the National Uni-
 versity.
    "Many, many people from Mexico who
 have gone to school here at Wisconsin have
 very important positions at home now,"
 said Jesus Guzman. "This is because of the
 very high academic level of the University.
 There are close ties,too. Dr. Cohen (Emer.
 Prof. Phillip Cohen, physiological chemis-
 try) has come down to us many, many
 times. He was nominated one of the Distin-
guished Professors of the University of
Mexico. He was also awarded a doctorate
honoris causa the last time he was there."
   "There is another reason why so many
people from Mexico come to school here,"
said Marcelo Perez. "That is because the
people of Madison are so nice. We met
beautiful people; nice people. We tell our
friends at home about this."
   "Oh, yes, yes, yes," Jesus Guzman said.
   "There is this very successful engineer-
ing exchange program, too; that keeps
many people visiting between our schools,"
Perez said.
   Since Wednesday there had been a crew
on campus from Mexico's CONACYT tel-
evision network which syndicates educa-
tion-oriented programming nationally.
They were doing a documentary about the
University, and they brought their equip-
ment to the fiesta. A man in a jump suit
with the network logo emroidered on the
pocket moved around the edge of the table
area followed by another with a light.
When they finished, they set up light-stands
aimed at the stage, and sat down. Fabio Ga-
xiola went to the microphone, and the lights
came on. He spoke for several minutes,
welcoming the visitors. After him came
Said Infante, who is majoring in economics
and who had helped Gaxiola make arrange-
ments for the fiesta. He introduced several
people from the campus, many of whom
were caught by surprise when they recog-
nized their names amid his rapid Spanish.
His final introduction brought on Craig
Donahue, the company manager for the
Wisconsin Singers. In Spanish, Craig an-
nounced that the Singers would be visiting
Mexico in March, and that they would now
give a preview of that concert. Out from be-
hind folding screens at the building en-
trance the Singers bounded with Celebra-
tion, and the audience clapped with the
beat. They did a few more, then went into a
Forties medley; Juke Box Saturday Night,
Caldonia, Skylark, In the Mood. The visi-
tors whistled and hummed along with the
ballads. A woman from the University
staff, wearing a shawl, came up to Arlie
Mucks. "Everyone is hungry," she said.
"Can't you cut this show short?"
    "No," Arlie said. The audience brought
 the Singers back for an encore. When they
 had finished, the caterers set up a buffet at a
 cleared area along the side, and dinner be-
 gan.
    Through the meal there was music. A
 young man played the grand piano; two
14 / THE WISCONSIN ALUMNUS


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