Remarks By AIT Director Stephen M. Young At U.S. -Taiwan Exchange Program Alumni
OT0618E | Date: 2006-10-30
Professor Ju, ladies and gentlemen and honored guests. It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the first reunion of U.S.-Taiwan Exchange Program Alumni. Thank you for coming this evening to help us honor those who participated in our important exchange programs, such as the flagship International Visitor Leadership program (IVLP) and the world-famous Fulbright Program.
AIT and the U.S. government have supported educational and cultural exchange programs with Taiwan people for over 48 years. And we do this for one fundamental reason—to promote better understanding between the people of the U.S. and Taiwan. Exchanges establish trust, confidence and international cooperation—all of which are indispensable to the conduct of foreign policy.
Tonight I'd like to describe our major exchange programs to you. I know that you are familiar with the program that you yourself participated in, but I want you all to know about the other programs sponsored by the U.S. Government so that you can encourage your colleagues and students to participate in them in the future.
For those of you who don't know about the International Visitor Program, this is the U.S. government's most prestigious professional exchange program. This program invites to the U.S. each year approximately 15 talented young Taiwan professionals who have the potential to be future leaders in their fields. Oftentimes, they have never visited the U.S. So, we give them a truly rich experience which includes professional meetings, cultural activities, and even the experience of staying overnight in the homes of American people -- which is often a highlight of their program.
In Taiwan, we have over 330 alumni of the International Visitor program, people who visited America to take part in intensive programs in fields such as the protection of intellectual property rights, cultural preservation, urban environmental issues, emergency management, agriculture and food safety, U.S. foreign policy, journalism, and many other varied and important topics. At this time I ask you to join me in welcoming the roughly 40 International Visitor alumni and their families who are joining us tonight.
Senator William Fulbright, after whom the Fulbright program of academic exchange is named, believed that if large numbers of people lived and studied in other countries, they would develop a deeper understanding of those countries and a greater appreciation for the diversity of humanity. "The prejudices and misconceptions, which exist regarding foreign people," Fulbright said, "are a great barrier to any system of government." And I cannot agree with him more. But I would add something else to that: The Fulbright Program is also a shared commitment, a demonstration of our shared values, a belief that there is more to unite us than there is to separate us.
Worldwide, more than a quarter of a million American and foreign citizens have participated in the Fulbright program which has produced an impressive roster of achievement:
--5 recent heads of state
--34 Nobel Prize winners
--65 Pulitzer Prize winners
--60 U.S. university presidents
To date in Taiwan, we have over 1,000 Fulbright alumni. And I ask you now to join me in welcoming the approximately 50 Fulbright alumni and their families who are in the audience with us this evening.
Our purpose for gathering all of you here tonight is to inspire and encourage you to share the experience and knowledge of the United States that you have gained on your respective programs. In America, the term alumnus has a meaning that goes beyond the simple dictionary meaning of "a former student." For many, it means writing a check every year. For others, it means contributing time by serving on committees or helping to recruit new students. As alumni of U.S.-Taiwan exchange programs, you have one advantage over those who graduated from American schools. No one is going to ask you to give money to the alumni fund. But I am here to ask you to contribute your talents, experience and understanding on behalf of the U.S.-Taiwan partnership. We ask for your help as we search for ways to pass the torch of the understanding you possess about America and its institutions to a new generation of Taiwan people. There is perhaps no one better qualified than you - alumni from all walks of life and professions who have worked, studied and lived in America.
Toward that goal, the U.S. is reaching out to the exchange program alumni around the world. We at AIT hope we can count on your participation. This evening's gathering is the first of what we hope will be many future exchange alumni events to take place here in Taiwan. These events will be opportunities to build bridges of mutual understanding between the next generation of Taiwan leaders and the American people.
Worldwide, U.S. exchange programs such as the International Visitor and Fulbright program have over one million participants. How do you get over a million of the best and brightest from around the world to come together in a single community?
One way is to register at the new website, https://alumni.state.gov. This small step will give you a chance to tap into a database that offers opportunities for training and career development, international visits and getting to know and reconnect with intellectuals and professionals working in a wide variety of fields and professions from around the world.
We also hope our Taiwan alumni of U.S. exchange programs will participate in local chapters of alumni associations.
Other ideas we have for building our alumni network include smaller gatherings, such as luncheons with Taiwan and American Fulbright scholars and speaking engagements featuring our alumni. AIT is pleased to provide support for such events.
We also hope to see Taiwan institutions embrace this initiative, and I encourage you to share with us tonight your thoughts and suggestions. We will give each of you a packet with more information as you leave tonight.
Before I close, I'd like to take a moment to recognize two of our exchange program alumni who have distinguished themselves through a lifetime of work in promoting the ideals of Taiwan's Fulbright program. I ask you all to please give a warm round of applause as we invite the following two people to come to the stage for the presentation of their lifetime achievement awards:
-- the President of Taiwan's Fulbright Alumni Association, former Minister of Finance Dr. Paul Chiu, and
-- the Executive Director of the Taiwan's Fulbright Foundation - the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange -- Dr. Wu Jing-jyi.
On behalf of AIT, I am issuing these lifetime achievement awards "in recognition of outstanding work in promoting the ideals of Taiwan's Fulbright program and U.S.-Taiwan exchange program alumni activities."
Congratulations to you both for your fine service in support of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.
And now it's time for our performance by the Battery Dance Company from New York City. This internationally acclaimed group will perform for us tonight... "Excerpts from the Solo Project" and "Secrets of the Paving Stones." I note that Battery Dance Company's Artistic Director and choreographer, Jonathan Hollander is a Fulbright alumnus who focused on dance in India in 1992. You see, our exchange program alumni are everywhere.
Please join me in welcoming Battery Dance Company to Taiwan.