The Georgia Chapter of the Fulbright Association has set an excellent example of advancing the Fulbright Association’s work to connect and engage alumni. Led by a dedicated board of ten individuals, the Georgia Chapter welcomes nearly 90 visiting Fulbrighters each year into a vibrant community of students, academics, and professionals. The chapter continues to distinguish itself through innovative programming, an active social media presence, and close collaboration with the Association’s Institutional Members in the state of Georgia.
Each year, the chapter hosts six large-scale events that immerse Fulbrighters in Georgia civic and cultural life. These events include trips to different parts of the state, dinners and receptions hosted by alumni, and tours of local universities. Last summer, in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program, Mayor Kasim Reed gave warm remarks to a crowd of over 150 Fulbrighters, alumni, and supporters who gathered at Piedmont Park. Current Fulbrighters shared their stories while alumni gave suggestions on ways to immerse oneself in the culture of Georgia and the United States.
In addition to enriching the experiences of visiting Fulbrighters, Georgia Chapter alumni have taken several steps to promote the Fulbright Association mission on a local scale. In October 2017, the Georgia Chapter hosted a Welcome Reception for new Fulbright scholars and chapter members at the Georgia State University School of Public Health. Zipangani Vokhiwa, President of the Georgia Chapter, welcomed reception attendees and reminded participants of Senator Fulbright’s goal of cultural and international exchange. After the welcome remarks, several Georgia State leaders addressed the reception attendees: Ackeem Evans, a staff member from the office of U.S. Representative Hank Johnson; Dr. Wolfgang Schlör, the Associate Provost of International Initiatives at Georgia State University; and Dr. Rodney Lyn, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the School of Public Health. The reception offered current grantees and Fulbright Association members the opportunity to discuss their shared international exchange experiences, and to learn about Congressional and Institutional support for the Fulbright Program in the state of Georgia.
As with this recent collaboration with the Georgia State University School of Public Health, the Georgia Chapter benefits from strong ties to local universities, several of which are top producers of Fulbrighters. The University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, Georgia Perimeter College, Georgia Tech, Emory University, Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University, Spelman College, Agnes Scott College, Mercer University, and Valdosta State University provide campus space, extend event invitations, arrange tours, and collaborate with the chapter’s fundraising efforts. These partnerships create joint agendas that connect Fulbrighters with resources and increase visibility. During the academic year, the Georgia Chapter successfully collaborates with student organizations and global studies offices at these colleges and universities to contribute speakers and promote membership.
A considerable portion of the chapter’s outreach occurs on social media, and a group of dedicated members maintain an up-to-date website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter. These platforms allow chapter communications to reach a wider audience, namely Fulbrighters and institutions that are not directly situated in Atlanta, and they provide space to spotlight individual Fulbrighters and share local meet-ups and events. On its website, the chapter also archives notable events and photos for members to share and access.
“Our Georgia Chapter success is attributed to a group of dedicated board members who work in harmony and strive to keep the chapter activities on a high level all the time,” shares Chapter President Zipangani Vokhiwa, who was a Fulbright-Hays scholar in Malawi in 2013. “We have a dedicated Webmaster and Advocacy Director who have put in a lot of time to ensure that our activities are posted on our chapter website and social media. That way, other partners and chapters can read and be informed of our work.”
Shaz Akram, Deputy Director of the Fulbright Association, says of the chapter’s successful programming: “The Georgia Chapter promotes collaborative engagement between alumni and visiting scholars through their collection of annual programs, and we value their dedication to advancing the mission of the Fulbright Association. We are proud to showcase their diversified programming through this month’s spotlight.”
If you currently live in Georgia and would like to join the chapter as a member of the Fulbright Association, visit: fulbright.org/membership.