August is an important month for exchange programs. On August 1, 1946, President Harry Truman signed Fulbright’s legislation into law, creating the international exchange program aiming to increase mutual understanding between the people of the US and other countries. Until now, Fulbright Program is the most prestigious and oldest exchange program funded by the US government; on August 7, we celebrate the power of international exchange on an Exchange Day. On these occasions, the IIE Office in Kyiv initiated Exchange Talks, gathering the GDAS and Fulbright program alums on August 15, 2023. During the event, participants discussed the importance of international education for Ukrainian students and reflected on their recent experience in exchange programs in the US.
The event was hybrid (speakers and participants could join online and offline), and two main plenary sessions were on the agenda. For welcoming remarks, we have invited representatives from the US Embassy in Ukraine, Glen Davis, Cultural Affairs Officer, Public Diplomacy Section, and Vira Maksimova, Cultural Affairs Assistant and leading partners of the GDAS initiative: Michael Johnston, President at Lubetzky Family Foundation; Evan Mawarire, Director of Education at the Renew Democracy Initiative, and Jessica Zychowicz, IIE Kyiv/Fulbright Ukraine Director. The air raid alert in Kyiv disrupted welcoming remarks, though it didn’t prevent further dialogue from happening in the shelter.
For Plenary Session 1, Role of International Education for Ukrainians and Ukraine Now, the IIE Kyiv Office invited Fulbright alums specializing in international education and public diplomacy: Yana Chapailo, Anne Chermak-Dillen, Aaron Kennet, Darya Levchenko, Liz Shchepetylnykova. During the session, speakers discussed the importance of international education for Ukrainians and Ukraine now, the ambassadorship role and responsibility to represent Ukraine while being an exchange student, and the connection between exchange programs and global democracy.
During Plenary Session 2, The Year of Ambassadorship for Ukraine and What is Next,
the GDAS and Fulbright alums shared their reflections on the program participation. For most of them, the full-scale invasion broke out in the middle of their programs. Alums could compare their experience of studying and representing Ukraine in the US before and after the full-scale invasion. Among the speakers, there were Fulbright Graduate Students Olena Bidovanets, Olena Sadovnik, Diana Butsko, Fulbright Scholar Nataliia Kalmykova, and GDAS Scholars Anastasiia Mishanchuk, Anastsasiia Starchenko, Mariia Tkach, and Anna Kovalchuk.
More detailed information about the speakers is available
We welcome you to join this critical dialog by watching the recording of the Exchange Talks event at Fulbright Ukraine’s YouTube Channel.
Photo credit – Inna Barysh.