News & Events

26 January 2023

Alumni Advisory Council holds Diwali celebration dinner for American Fulbrighters in the UK – an interview with AAC Chair Monica Mendiratta

We recently held the first Diwali celebration dinner for current American Fulbright grantees which was a great opportunity to showcase the multicultural side of the UK. The event was organised by Alumni Advisory Council Chair, Monica Mendiratta who spoke with us about why she feels so strongly about giving back to Fulbright and how alumni can get involved in the work of the AAC.  

The evening started with an introduction to the history of Diwali and its significance to those around the world who celebrate.  Diwali, otherwise known as the festival of lights, is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar and is also celebrated by a number of other religions in India. 

You are the Chair of the Alumni Advisory Council – can you say a few words about what the AAC does and why you are part of it?

My Fulbright experience had a profound impact on me, and as a result, I have always looked for ways to continue to engage with the Fulbright community and importantly, give back and support others to also benefit from this amazing opportunity.  

The Alumni Advisory Council exists to advance the mission of the Fulbright Commission and to be the voice of Fulbright alumni, working closely with the Commission team to contribute ideas on how to engage with alumni. Alongside events organised by the Commission, the Alumni Advisory Council have hosted a number of get togethers for current grantees and alumni such as: a virtual Burns night, Halloween drinks, a Thanksgiving dinner and most recently, the Diwali dinner. 

What are your aspirations for the work of the AAC in this 75th anniversary year?

The 75th anniversary year is a really important year for all Fulbright alumni. It’s an opportunity to  celebrate the achievements and impact of the Fulbright programme generally as well as the individual stories of current grantees and alumni. The Alumni Advisory Council are looking forward to working closely with the Fulbright Commission to develop an events programme that strengthens ties with our alumni and helps develop long-lasting connections between Fulbrighters. We also hope to use these events to support the US-UK Commission’s key strategic objectives to ensure our programmes and activities are reflective of the vibrant diversity of both our nations.

How can alumni get more involved with the AAC?

There will be a number of events throughout the year so I would encourage alumni to come along and connect with fellow Fulbrighters, staff, and members of the Alumni Advisory Council. We’re always excited to hear how you’re getting on, and to talk to you about new ways in which we can strengthen our community.  Aside from events, we’re also looking for alumni to support our grantee selection process, so make sure you keep an eye on our monthly newsletters to hear how you can get involved with reading and interview panels. The Alumni Advisory Council is run by alumni, for alumni – so we want to hear from you! Please do reach out with suggestions on what you’d like to see in the coming year and beyond, because ultimately you make the community what it is today, and we want you to have a say in what it could be in the future.

Monica Mendiratta, Chair, Alumni Advisory Council