TIEC Talks to Pre-Departure Cohort of Fulbright Scholars and Students at the University of Texas at Austin

On June 27th TIEC’s President and CEO Robin Lerner, JD, and Vice President Ryan Buck, PhD, spoke to a room filled with United States scholars and students, preparing to depart on their Fulbright programs across 17 countries in the Western Hemisphere.

“With Fulbright and other programs collaboration is key,” President Lerner told the room. “International collaboration is a two way street, and we need to work across borders to build partnerships.”

President Lerner discussed the importance programs like Fulbright have on foreign diplomacy. As the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. State Department, she governed the State Department’s J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program.

It was this experience in the State Department that enabled President Lerner to explain the connection between Fulbright, the many layers of foreign policy, and how scholars help to break down barriers diplomats cannot.

“It enables you to expand your network, challenge stereotypes, and build trust with countries around the world. I can’t stress the importance of that enough,” she said.

TIEC Vice President Ryan Buck, PhD, discussed the importance of the problem from an academic prospective, encouraging students to bridge lasting partnerships that can connect the places they visit with their institutions back home.

“You will make connections, you will break bread and stay in people’s homes,” Dr. Buck said. “I hope you take that network and think about how to bring it back to your home institutions.”

The presentation ended with encouragement from President Lerner and Dr. Buck for participants to make the most of the people they will meet and to make sure to document everything.

“My last piece of advice is to take copious amounts of notes on who you meet, and to never say no,” Dr. Buck said. “Go to every event you are invited to, meet everyone you can. It is an opportunity.”

The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,900 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals.