Thirty-eight (38) Filipino talented scholars and fellows representing four programs under the Fulbright umbrella (i.e., Fulbright Student Program, Fulbright Advanced Lecturing/Research Program, Foreign Language Teaching Assistants Program, and the Fulbright-Philippine Agriculture Scholarship Program for Advanced Research); and the Hubert H. Humphrey and Global Undergraduate Exchange scholarship programs went through a 2-day Pre-Departure Orientation Program on May 13-14, 2015 at the PAEF office in Makati City. The PDO is an indispensable ingredient toward better academic and cultural adjustment to life in the United States. This year’s PDO provided useful information about living and studying in the United States and stressed the importance of being a Filipino Fulbright, Humphrey, and Global UGrad scholar and the role scholars play as ambassadors of the Philippines in the United States.
The Pre-Departure Orientation was jam packed with activities with alumni of the various programs as resource persons. A US consular officer discussed about the process of applying for a J-1 exchange visitor visa and an emigrant service officer 2 from the Commission of Filipinos Overseas explained responsibilities of Filipino scholars under the Exchange Visitor Program. Atty. Joan De Venecia, a Fulbright alumna who completed her LLM in New York University was this year’s keynote speaker. She gave an inspirational message about taking full advantage of what the different programs offer, coming home, and paying forward.
The highlight of the program was a reception honoring the scholars that was hosted the U.S. Ambassador and Honorary PAEF Board Chairman Philip S. Goldberg who gave a short speech about the importance of the programs represented by the scholars towards nation building and development. The reception gave the Filipino US-bound scholars the opportunity to meet with alumni who shared valuable advice about what to expect from U.S. institutions of learning, how to make the best use of the educational and travel opportunities, and the importance of time management to make their experience in the U.S. not only educationally, but, also personally rewarding. The scholars are one in describing that the PDO stimulated their excitement for their upcoming trip and adventure in the United States as they begin a new chapter in their lives.