WASHINGTON, DC, April 28, 2010—Fulbright students from 47 countries are gathering in Washington, D.C. this week to explore the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship as a model to address public sector challenges in the areas of environmental sustainability, public health, education and economic and social equity. The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is convening the more than 60 Fulbright students who are studying at the graduate level at colleges and universities throughout the United States for a leadership seminar this week. They will contribute their global perspectives as academically gifted and socially engaged individuals to a variety of activities designed to expose them to different aspects of social entrepreneurial projects.
Ashoka President Diana Wells, who was a Fulbright Scholar in Trinidad and Tobago in 1995, will deliver a keynote address on "Global Challenges, Local Solutions—Fostering Change through Social Entrepreneurship" at the Hyatt Regency Washington on April 29, at 8:00 p.m.
The Fulbright students will also learn from Washington area social entrepreneurship experts who are taking part in an interactive panel discussion, “Social Entrepreneurship: From Vision to Action” on Friday, April 30, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Speakers will include: Shari Berenbach, President and CEO, Calvert Social Investment Foundation; Maya Ajmera, Founder and President, Global Fund for Children; Chandler Arnold, Senior Vice President and Executive Director, First Book Marketplace. The panel will be moderated by Nanette Levinson, from the School of International Service at American University.
The Fulbright students will hear from U.S. government officials, private and nonprofit sector leaders, and members of the academic community about the best strategies to apply entrepreneurial principles and business models to solve social problems. Through community outreach programs and student-led activities, they will discover how social entrepreneurs impact communities in the U.S. and specifically in the Washington, D.C. area. Finally, they will work with their peers to explore how social entrepreneurship principles, structures and resources can be applied in their home countries.
On Friday afternoon, the Fulbrighters will take part in volunteer opportunities throughout Washington. Volunteer sites are: The Washington Home, where they will interact with senior residents for conversation, music, games, and other activities; the Bruce Monroe Elementary School/Parkview Community Center, where they will paint murals and visit local students; Howard University GADGET Center, where they will participate in financial literacy community outreach; and the Banneker Recreational Center, where they will beautify a local park and recreation center that serves as a safe haven for neighborhood kids.
Among the outstanding Fulbright students who will attend the seminar are:
- Gregorio Drayer from Venezuela, a PhD student in electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology who hopes to become Venezuela’s first astronaut.
- Shwe Zin Mon Aung from Burma, a MA student in TESOL at St. Cloud State University who intends to continue creating English language programs for Burma’s vulnerable monastic school students with the aid of the American Center in Burma.
- Alex Wyatt from Australia, a PhD student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who is studying climate change’s effects on oceanographic processes and plans to pursue long-term collaboration with the Oceans Institute in Australia and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to enhance their collective research on how to best protect the earth’s coral reefs.
About the Fulbright Program
For more than 60 years, the Fulbright Program has been a uniquely effective, global and flexible form of public diplomacy, enabling students and scholars from diverse cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds to create ties of understanding and respect between the U.S. and other countries. The Fulbright Foreign Student Program has brought some of the world’s finest minds to U.S. campuses to pursue graduate studies while offering program participants insight into U.S. society and values. Many Fulbright Foreign Student grantees return to take leadership positions in their home countries, often working at universities or in government service. Forty Fulbright alumni have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1946, including leading social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh, founder of the Grameen Bank.
More than 1,800 new Fulbright Foreign Students enter U.S. academic programs each year. Fulbrighters bring their own cultural diversity and perspective to enrich the communities in which they live.
Colleges and universities in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland, are hosting 274 Fulbright Foreign Students in the 2009-10 academic year. In addition, 114 U.S. students from area institutions are studying and conducting research in other countries through Fulbright fellowships. Fulbright Foreign Students are among the 37,323 international students studying in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland – an increase of 22% from the previous year (Open Doors). The institutions in the District of Columbia area that host the highest number of Fulbright Foreign Students are: The George Washington University, University of Maryland, College Park, and Georgetown University.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Government and has provided approximately 300,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.