A Year in the Life of a Freeman Fellow

What is a "typical" year for a Freeman Fellow?



Group photo before the University of Illinois Alma Mater.Group photo in front of the University of Illinois Alma Mater.

Freeman Fellows usually arrive in Urbana-Champaign sometime during the last week in July where they are met at the airport or Illinois terminal by Freeman Fellows staff. They are taken to their apartments in university housing at Orchard Downs where they can unpack and settle in.


Orientation at Allerton Park.Orientation at Allerton Park.

The three week orientation class provided by the Freeman Fellows Program helps to familiarize the scholars with the local community through visits to points of interest on the University of Illinois campus and in the Urbana-Champaign community. During this three week period, they meet with faculty partners and host families, take a tour of the campus, complete the necessary paperwork to become a part of the university community, and begin to choose the classes they will audit in the fall.

Enjoying lunch with a host family.Enjoying lunch with a host family.
Touring the Urbana Free LibraryTouring the Urbana Free Library.

Cross Cultural Conversations

Group photo after a Cross Cultural ConversationGroup photo after a Cross Cultural Conversation.

Beginning during orientation and continuing through September, the Freeman Fellows are invited into local homes for lively, candid conversations on topics of interest. These conversations are hosted and led by University of Illinois faculty, former faculty members, and members of the community. Past Freeman Fellows have enjoyed discussing topics such as:

Participating in an Ag Day tour.Participating in an "Ag Day" tour.

They also attend Agronomy Day at the University of Illinois farms.

Academic Year

Teaching Mandarin at a local school.Teaching Mandarin at a local school.

For the next 9 months the Freeman Fellows are involved in many campus activities, including fulfilling their own research goals, auditing courses, giving lectures on campus and in the community, attending professional conferences throughout the US, and attending regularly-scheduled Freeman Fellows events.

Components of the Freeman Fellows Program

Below is a quick pictorial description of some components of the Freeman Fellows program. To view the complete list of program components, please visit our program components page or download our current handbook .

Freeman Fellows Seminar

Seminars can take place at the house...Seminars can take place at the house...
...or around the local community....or around the local community.

Throughout the academic year, the Freeman Fellows participate in a weekly seminar. These seminars are designed to introduce the scholars to University of Illinois faculty members in a variety of disciplines. The topics explore American culture, the professor's research, and other topics of interest. Through these seminars, the Freeman Fellows will broaden their understanding of American culture, learn about the American experience, be exposed to areas of study outside their area of expertise, and experience a variety of teaching styles.

Field Trips

Trip to the Covered Bridge Festival.Trip to the Covered Bridge Festival.
Visiting the Chicago Field Museum.Visiting the Chicago Field Museum.

The Freeman Fellows have the opportunity to learn more about American history and culture by participating in field trips to such places as Chicago, IL, Hannibal, MO, St. Louis, MO, Indianapolis, IN, and Springfield, IL. Another field trip highlight includes a visit to an Amish farm and a meal in an Amish home.

Inside the Mark Twain Cave.Inside the Mark Twain Cave.
Attending a Native American Powwow.Attending a Native American Powwow.

In early May, the achievements of the Freeman Fellows are celebrated at the annual Freeman Fellows graduation banquet. During May they may do some sightseeing before they return to their home university in China.

Graduation is a bittersweet farewell...Graduation is a bittersweet farewell...
... to a wonderful year at the U of I!... to a wonderful year at the U of I!