Hello everyone!

I’m Calvin Lees, and I have spent six weeks as the Saltire Scholar and summer intern at the Chicago Scots this summer. Officially, I served as a Special Events and Office intern. It’s been a busy time and I have helped with Chicago Scots’ signature events – especially the Scottish Festival & Highland Games – and provided office support for mailings, promotions and donor communications. I have injected a ‘little bit of Scotland’ into the dynamic in all I have done.

Calvin Lees at the Scottish Home

This is my first time in the United States and I have received a very receptive welcome, especially for the accent!  Some of you may have been introduced to me at the Games, seen me around campus at Caledonia Senior Living & Memory Care, or had a chance to interact with me via email. I thought you might enjoy learning a little about my experience before I head back to Scotland and my reflections on my time here at Chicago Scots.

I joined Chicago Scots through Entrepreneurial Scotland’s Saltire Scholarship Programme, which connects companies and organisations across the world with undergraduate students from Scottish Universities. The intention is to create a new generation of ambassadors, leaders and talented individuals to help shape Scotland’s future. Chicago Scots has been participating in the program since 2008, hosting 12 interns from various places in Scotland. I am honoured to have had this opportunity. Receiving the chance to experience living and working in another country has been an amazing and enlightening experience that is sure to shape my growth for years to come. I am so thankful to both Chicago Scots and Entrepreneurial Scotland enough for all they have done for me.

I am from a town called Buckie in the northeast of Scotland. It’s a town originally known for its fishing industry, with a strong sense of community where everyone knows one another. Growing up, I was always involved in community events which encouraged volunteerism.  This common theme of community has been beautifully communicated by Chicago Scots and I have had the privilege of seeing it in practice here at Caledonia Senior Living.

During my time here, I had the chance to work on the return of the Highland Games – Chicago Scots largest Scottish cultural event. I helped design advertisements and organise the pages of the programme book, assemble the contents for the ‘Whisky in a Box’ and provided on-the-ground assistance during the games themselves. The breadth of the event itself was amazing.  It had been a long time since I last experienced a Highland Games and I enjoyed seeing what the Games here in Chicago are all about! I was particularly impressed with the scale of the Roscoe Company Mid-America Championship Massed Bands performance with 33 pipe bands, which was surprising to see despite being from Scotland myself. It was a great pleasure getting to work on this event and I’m glad it proved to be such a success.

Chicago Shoreline

Chicago itself has been a fantastic host city. I’ve taken the opportunity to visit major attractions such as the Field Museum and Art Institute and take long walks around the city’s loop, Riverwalk and Navy Pier. The contrast of the large skyscrapers compared to Scotland’s more modest offerings has been something that I’m still not quite used to. However, the variety of food offerings and drinks venues is something I have indulged in much more than I possibly should have. This has been an excellent experience, which I cannot stress how thankful I am to have received. I am glad to have chosen to apply to Chicago Scots, and to have had this phenomenal introduction to the US.

I am about to enter my final year at the University of Dundee, where I will graduate with an MA in Philosophy and Politics. Dundee is on the East coast of Scotland, situated on the banks of the River Tay. I look forward to making the most of my last year and am leaving the Chicago Scots with a newfound confidence that will benefit my future.

I would like to extend my thanks to everyone here at Chicago Scots. My time here has been wonderful and I have had the chance to work with some fantastic colleagues, who have helped bring out the best in me, while displaying a commitment that has been greatly inspiring. I have learned a lot watching and working with them and will use my experiences here in everything I do going forward.

Gus Noble has made a particular impression on me in my time here. Seeing how well respected he is, and his commitment to all his various causes is nothing short of incredible. I feel humbled to have worked for him during my time here. Culture and Care. It’s a mantra I won’t forget.

If I didn’t get a chance to meet you throughout my time here, I will be at the Caledonia Senior Living Picnic on Saturday the 6th of August. I look forward to giving a quick hello and goodbye while I am there!

Calvin Lees

2022 Saltire Scholar Intern

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