The Fulbright New Zealand Alumni Association publishes regular newsletters which are sent to members and available to read here. Also on this page are the Association’s annual reports and occassional press releases, opinion pieces and speeches.
Press Releases, Opinion Pieces and Speeches
Thanksgiving message from the Chairperson
26 November 2009
Something to be thankful for
On the fourth Thursday of every November our friends and colleagues in the United States of America take leave of their daily lives to give thanks for all of the good things in their lives. Thanksgiving is a special time of year, too, for those of us who have been fortunate to spend significant time in the United States, as I myself did while a Fulbright Exchange Teacher to Laurin Middle School in Vancouver, Washington in 1978-79.
Back then I was a young Wellington school principal with a set of perceptions about life in America mainly gained from television and the newspaper. The experience my family and I had changed these perceptions permanently. We exchanged houses, schools, friends and families with a teacher from Laurin Middle School. The warmth of the welcome and the generosity of the hospitality shown to us were overwhelming, as they were for my American exchange partner in Wellington.
My term coincided with the introduction of the Basic Education Law in Washington State, which involved a plethora of student learning objects and set teaching minutes for each curriculum area. Teachers were grappling with the tension between the latest theories about how students should learn and the practice of “accountability”. Through this I gained a better understanding of managing the tensions between educational theory and its application that has served me well throughout my 45 year career in education.
During my exchange year I met and spoke to over 60 school and community groups and was able to promote New Zealand – a place where everyone wanted to go one day! Our family made many friends and I have returned to Vancouver, WA five times since my Fulbright exchange. Needless to say, it was a life-changing experience for which I will be eternally grateful.
My story is just one of more than 2,500 alumni of Fulbright exchanges between New Zealand and the US, and I’m sure every one of us reflects on the value of those exchanges at this special time of year (and perhaps recalls their own authentic Thanksgiving experience in America). We all owe an immense debt of gratitude to the extraordinary gesture of American Senator J William Fulbright, who in the aftermath of World War II reasoned that world peace could best be achieved by a programme promoting the exchange of ideas, culture and understanding between people of different nations. He believed the expectancy for peace should be as powerful and self-generating as the expectancy for war. However, Senator Fulbright was uncomfortable with personal monuments of any kind and had a vision of laying the groundwork for a worldwide network of intelligent and dedicated leaders to deal with world issues together.
With this in mind, myself and my fellow Fulbright alumni have chosen not only to give thanks, but to give back to the Fulbright programme which so greatly bettered our lives. A small group of us have worked hard over the past year to form the first official Fulbright New Zealand Alumni Association, to which we are now warmly inviting members. The Association is open not only to Fulbright alumni, but to any individual or organisation that supports Senator Fulbright’s vision of a more peaceful world achieved through international educational and cultural exchange.
The Association will be the catalyst for bringing together alumni and building a network of people in New Zealand who are committed to Senator Fulbright’s noble vision. The establishment of the Association has been received with considerable goodwill by alumni and has received significant support from Fulbright New Zealand, the US Embassy and the US State Department’s Office of Alumni Affairs. We owe a debt of gratitude to these individuals and organisations, as of course we do to the New Zealand and US governments for their continuing support of the Fulbright programme.
The Fulbright New Zealand Alumni Association is already active in six regions in New Zealand – welcoming and hosting incoming US Fulbright Scholars, organising professional events such as a recent seminar with prominent alumni exploring the influence of US law on New Zealand law, and hosting social events that celebrate prominent American holidays including Independence Day and Thanksgiving. We look forward to hosting homesick American Fulbrighters and nostalgic alumni alike at regional Thanksgiving events this weekend, where we will share in our immense gratitude to the Fulbright experience.
The Fulbright programme has directly benefited more than 250,000 graduate students, academics, artists and professionals from over 150 countries, with a multiplier effect amongst their families, friends, colleagues and countrymen. Alumni have completed awards in a wide range of disciplines and collectively hold a formidable pool of expertise and experience of value to New Zealand, the US and other participating nations, but their experience of international educational exchange and their commitment to the Fulbright vision are what they have in common. The contributions of these quarter of a million Fulbrighters to their home countries and mutual understanding between these nations are immeasurable. It is something we should all be hugely thankful for.
Fulbright New Zealand Alumni Association
Fulbright New Zealand Alumni Association launched
(Fulbright Quarterly, August 2009)
The first official Fulbright New Zealand Alumni Association was officially launched by Graham Cochrane, Chairperson of the Steering Group that lead the Association’s establishment, at Parliament on June 24th. A transcript of Graham’s speech launching the Association follows:
“Minister Gerry Brownlee, Chargé d’Affaires David Keegan, Fulbright New Zealand Chairperson Barbara Johnson, Fulbright New Zealand Executive Director Mele Wendt, alumni, grantees and friends. Kia ora koutou.
It is with considerable pleasure that I present to you the Fulbright New Zealand Alumni Association and launch the Association this evening. Fulbright New Zealand has done a wonderful job of keeping in contact with alumni and bringing them together over the years. However, the time has come for alumni to take over the responsibility for fostering the relationships and networks among us. Considerable work has been done by an enthusiastic and energetic steering group over the past year to bring about the formation of an Alumni Association. This has been a movement by alumni for alumni and has considerable support from Fulbright New Zealand and the US Embassy.
Over the past year, several hundred alumni have gathered at functions throughout the country and the positive feedback we have received indicates the time has come to harness this enthusiasm and energy to build a strong Association.
The purpose of the Association will be to connect Fulbright alumni with each other, support the mission of Fulbright New Zealand and also to support current grantees and to raise awareness of the aims of the Fulbright programme and associated international educational exchange programmes.
The groundwork is almost complete for an Association that is centrally coordinated but regionally driven. We have a constitution in final draft form, a memorandum of understanding will be signed with Fulbright New Zealand shortly, and the administrative systems, webpage and database management will be completed in the coming weeks. An interim board will be appointed from among the current steering group until the first AGM and election in a year’s time and it is intended that the Association will be an incorporated society.
However, the success of the Association will not hinge on paperwork and bureaucracy but on the relationships that develop at regional level among alumni. We already have six regional coordinators active – Chris Loh in Auckland, Linda Braun in the Waikato, Leigh Parker in the Central North Island, Mark Booth in Wellington, Tim Clough in Canterbury and Lynley Hood in Otago/Southland. I acknowledge the coordinators’ work, commitment and willingness to take up the challenge in their regions, where they have started from small beginnings to shape the regional functioning of the Association.
By 30 August we plan to have full information available and will be inviting all alumni to join the Association. Membership will be open to all New Zealand and US recipients of awards administered by Fulbright New Zealand, participants in the international visitor programmes administered by the US Embassy, associates, corporates and institutes who support Senator Fulbright’s vision of a more peaceful world achieved through international education exchange.
Membership of the Association will provide a positive means for alumni to give back to the Fulbright programme and keep their educational exchange experience alive, to have access to a strong alumni network, to receive invitations to events and activities that connect alumni, and opportunity to meet and engage with current grantees and to make sure their experience is as good as ours was.
I invite you to join the steering group with your enthusiasm and energy to make this Association a strong, vibrant network of people who will continue to promote the Fulbright programme aim ‘to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn to live in peace and friendship.’
It is with pleasure that I declare the Fulbright New Zealand Alumni Association launched.”