Grantees connect at annual UK orientation

The 2016-17 British Fulbright Scholars enjoyed three days of orientation to help them prepare for their time in the US. They heard discussions about American culture and politics, mingled at a reception hosted by US Ambassador Matthew Barzun and received advice from past awardees.

The 43 British Fulbright Scholars gathered at Goodenough College in London from 14-16 June for a pre-departure orientation. The event provided opportunities for grantees to network and prepare for their impending departures.

After a welcome by the US-UK Fulbright Commission’s Executive Director Penny Egan CBE, a panel discussion about the USA opened the orientation.

Speakers included Philip Davies, an expert in American Studies from the British Library; Griff Witte, The Washington Post’s London Bureau Chief; and Deborah Maclean from the U.S. Embassy in London.

The discussion covered a number of topics, from the range of cultural differences in the States to the upcoming election.

The grantees, whose expertise includes medicine, photography, archaeology, music, art, engineering, technology, business, media, conflict, criminology, international relations, literature, law, the sciences and cyber intelligence, each gave a three-minute presentation about their aims in the US, including solid plans to make positive changes and to do impactful work.

Many plan to travel extensively, while some hope to take on challenges like running marathons or sharing their journey with a spouse and children.

The Scholars’ success was celebrated at Winfield House, US Ambassador Matthew Barzun’s residence. The reception event honoured individuals from prestigious exchange programmes, as well as the most recent US-bound cohort of the Sutton Trust US Programme.

Ambassador Barzun, Sir Trevor McDonald and Stephen Fry addressed the crowd as afternoon turned to evening on the value of US-UK exchange and our cultural differences.

On the last day of UKOR, four Fulbright Alumni – Hari Jayaram, Sarah Fox, Raegan Sealy and Georgina Watson – spoke about what they learned during their time overseas and offered advice to the 2016-17 group.

Watson told the group about the life-changing affect her Fulbright year had on her two children, and others mentioned the adjustments they had to make living in the US – learning and using new terminology, dealing with the challenge of finding a favourite biscuit, renting cars and realising just how friendly Americans can be.

Each had something different to say, but all panellists agreed that their experiences abroad were fulfilling and transformative, and that they would re-live them if they could.

As they prepare for their journeys over the coming weeks and months, we look forward to seeing what the future holds for the 2016-17 UK Fulbright grantees.