From October 24 to 26, 2019 in Washington D.C., the Fulbright Association held its 42nd Annual Conference & Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.
Senator Fulbright, who during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, called for alumni to create an active body to advocate for the program. Today, the main responsibility of the Fulbright Association, which is known for its multidimensional activity supporting programs such as Fulbright Alumni chapters in the U.S., spreading advocacy and organizing an annual conference that gathers hundreds of Fulbrighters to connect mind and hearts for global change.
Cultural diplomacy, including international education exchanges, have become one of the biggest tools of U.S. diplomacy and national power after World War II that provide vitality and substance to international relations built on friendly relations and mutual understanding. This is the main reason why on Thursday, October 24, the Fulbright Association visited Capitol Hill. During more than 100 meetings, Fulbright Alumni shared their stories of the impact of the Fulbright Program at home and abroad.
After a very productive day on the Capitol Hill, participants enjoyed an opening reception at Marymount University’s Ballston Campus, organized in cooperation with the Fulbright Hungary and the American Hungarian Heritage House. During the evening, the Emmy Award-winning Fulbright documentary “Armed with Faith” introduced by producer Haya Fatima Iqbal and shown to attendees.
Friday began with a plenary on “Cultural Exchanges: impact & innovation” with guests speakers Jay Wang, Erik Nibest, Katherine Brown and Kathy Fitzpartick. After this engaging talk, Fulbright alumni had the opportunity to join multiple concurrent sessions that corresponded with this year motto, “connect hearts & minds for global change,” as well as a career counseling panel and discussed current updates for the Fulbright Program.
On Friday evening, in conjunction with the 2019 Fulbright Association’s 42 Annual Conference, we were celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Polish-US Fulbright Program. The event, hosted by Ambassador of the Republic of Poland Piotr Wilczek at his residence, in cooperation with the Fulbright Association and the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission, was an amazing opportunity for building on the strong cultural relations between both countries and a great chance to celebrate bilateral educational cooperation.
On Saturday, over 350 registrants had the opportunity to take part in the morning plenary, “Fulbright Talks,” moderated by Ashley Conard, and enjoy a variety of concurrent sessions, research roundtables and an afternoon plenary with Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture with Roman Baca.
Every year, the Fulbright association brings international attention to the program during the Lifetime Achievement Awards Ceremony, established in 1993, that recognizes individuals or organizations which have made extraordinary contributions toward bringing peoples, cultures and nations to greater understanding of each other. This year, the Fulbright Association honored three distinguished figures: the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, in recognition for her remarkable, contributions as a leader, diplomat, and public servant, Mr. James S. Polshek, in recognition of his accomplishments in architecture and Melissa Block, in recognition of her accomplishments in journalism.
After the ceremony, Fulbright alumni and distinguish guests had the opportunity to enjoy the closing reception at Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel with food, drinks and live music.
In addition to 42 Annual Conference on Sunday, members of the 54 nationwide chapters discussed the future of community engagement in Fulbright Association and visited National Museum of African-American History & Culture.
Marek Siek, Fulbright Association