The 16th annual Fulbright Alumni Conference was held in Islamabad from December 13 to 15, 2019. More than 200 Fulbright alumni participated in the three-day conference which featured entertaining stand-up, live talks, and a host of engaging masterclass workshops. This year’s theme “Global Best Practices in Local Context” highlighted the diverse ways in which Fulbright alumni are blazing new paths for Pakistan in engineering, finance, agriculture, education, the arts and media.
The objective of the conference was to showcase the contributions and achievements of alumni in their respective fields and to foster discussions and exchange on topics related to Pakistan’s development. The conference is among the largest gatherings of U.S. graduates from across Pakistan where alumni of the prestigious Fulbright scholarship program meet once a year to present and learn about the latest research in areas related to Pakistan’s development. It also gives participants a platform to exchange ideas, discover novel opportunities for cooperation, reacquaint with colleagues, meet new friends, and broaden their knowledge and understanding on current and emerging socio-economic development challenges to Pakistan’s progress.
Chief guest, U.S. Ambassador Paul Jones congratulated the alumni on their accomplishments and their continued commitment to applying the skills they developed in the United States to make advancements in key sectors in Pakistan. “The Fulbright Program remains one of the most prestigious academic exchange programs in the world. Fulbright alumni return to Pakistan enriched academically, with new global networks in their field of study. We appreciate the knowledge and commitment of alumni as bridge-builders between our peoples and our nations,” said Ambassador Jones at the event.
The conference was modelled on the same format as last year, with TED style talks by 21 Fulbright alumni delivered to an enthusiastic audience. The supporting setup also featured a customized stage, HD 4K cameras, and specialized lighting and sound. The talks covered a variety of topics including advocacy for public interest, renewable energy, global waste management, water issues, the intervention of technology in different industries like HR and banking, play and early childhood education, the politics of language in education, racism and ethnic nationalism in South Asia, art in Pakistan, the future of museums, and toxic digital spaces, etc.
The conference was hosted by Fulbright alumni who volunteered as emcees to moderate the conference program, conducted masterclass workshops on meditation for stress management, improv and comedy, and yoga and mindfulness. Shehzad Ghias, a Fulbright alum, had the audience in stitches during a Friday night stand-up comedy performance.
All 21 of the recorded talks will soon be uploaded on the conference’s website creating a permanent repository of Fulbright Pakistan alumni achievements, captured on film and in written story format, showcasing the immense impact and talent of Fulbrighters.
The Fulbright Student Program, jointly funded by the American and Pakistani governments, is the largest in the world and offers scholarships for hundreds of Pakistanis every year to pursue master’s and doctoral programs in the United States. The U.S. Educational Foundation in Pakistan administers the Fulbright Program in Pakistan. For more information, please visit our website.