Fulbright Philippines holds its first-ever virtual pre-departure orientation (PDO) via a series of online sessions which kicked off on Monday, August 10.
Participants of the week-long virtual PDO include 26 scholars from the 2020 cohort of the Fulbright, Hubert H. Humphrey, and Global Undergraduate exchange programs. The virtual PDO aims to prepare the incoming scholars before they leave to pursue their studies in the United States.
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and Philippine-American Educational Foundation (PAEF) Honorary Chairman Sung Y. Kim addressed the scholars and congratulated them on their achievement as scholarship grantees.
“Congratulations on being selected to participate in the Fulbright, Humphrey, and UGRAD programs! Under normal circumstances, we would be able to celebrate together, as I did with last year’s scholars and students. Given the ongoing pandemic and shift back to MECQ, unfortunately, we cannot be together. Recognizing your achievements and welcoming you into the exchange family are incredible privileges for me,” the Ambassador said.
The first day of the PDO also featured welcome messages and inspirational talks from PAEF Chairman of the Board Philip W. Roskamp and Fulbright alumnus Karol Mark Yee.
Yee, former executive director of the Commission on Higher Education in the Philippines, spoke of his experiences as a scholarship applicant and graduate student at the Harvard University in 2013.
“(My Fulbright) journey started as early as 2009, with me going to the Fulbright office every year to get an application form. This went on for three years: going to PAEF, getting a form, being daunted by the criteria, and deciding not to apply, until I mustered up the strength to proceed with the application finally in 2012,” he said.
His inspirational message highlighted two very important points. “The two key roles you play as Fulbright scholars: first, to represent Philippine issues in global discourse, and attract interest for further study and collaboration, and second, to gain fluency in research and depth in the discipline, and to bring them home. At the end of the day, we cannot rely on others to solve our problems for us—the onus is on us,” he said.
The first day ended with a talk delivered by Atty. Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga, the Consul General of the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C. Like Yee, Chan-Gonzaga was also a Fulbright scholar, who graduated with a master’s in International Economic Law at the Columbia University School of Law in 2013.
Online sessions will run until Friday, August 14, and will feature talks from other Fulbrighters and PAEF partner-organizations based in the Philippines and the United States.
The 2020 virtual PDO is organized by the Fulbright Commission in the Philippines in partnership with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines.