Executive Directors and staff of nine Fulbright commissions and 17 US diplomatic posts in the East Asia and Pacific region gathered in Taiwan in March to share information and experiences at a regional meeting. Fulbright New Zealand’s executive director Mele Wendt was one of 47 attendees at the three day meeting hosted by the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange (Fulbright Taiwan).
At the meeting, attendees discussed issues including US diplomatic efforts in the Asia-Pacific region and trends in US and regional higher education that are impacting the Fulbright programme. Programme partners from US agencies the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) talked about trends in US student and scholar competitions, and recruitment strategies for non-US students and scholars.
Mele Wendt, executive director of Fulbright New Zealand, was a panellist speaker in two sessions. Discussing best practices for hosting US students and scholars, she talked about predeparture information provided to grantees and an alumni buddy system to establish useful relationships between peers. She highlighted our comprehensive welcome orientation for American students and scholars as they arrive in New Zealand at the beginning of the academic year, and other enrichment activities during the grant year.
In another session, Mele spoke about the effective management of Fulbright commissions, which requires a high-performing Board, clear goals and strategies, and great staff. She discussed, in particular, Fulbright New Zealand’s strategic and operational planning, and our performance and development system for staff.
Other sessions covered fundraising, demonstrating the impact of the Fulbright programme and innovative approaches to increasing student mobility.
Mele Wendt says regional meetings such as these are a great way to share best practices with fellow Fulbright commissions and the diplomatic staff who run Fulbright programmes in other countries. “As one of the longest-running commissions in the world, we have plenty to share, but I always bring home new ideas as well. Executive Directors of the region’s commissions meet annually, but this bigger meeting was an opportunity to share ideas and issues with staff of smaller programmes in countries like Fiji and Timor Leste.”
While in Taiwan, attendees at the meeting were hosted at receptions by Taiwan’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education, and given opportunities to visit sites including the National Palace Museum and Taipei 101, which was the world’s tallest building until 2010.