Fulbright in a Connected World

September 12, 2012

Fulbright in a Connected World: transcript

Suzanne Philion, Senior Advisor for Innovation, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs: As we start to take questions and ideas from the audience here in the room and the online audience, just to kind of structure it for you guys, we put together the concept for this panel and thought through some of the main ways that the Fulbright network could better leverage digital, we’re kind of coming up with three buckets. And just to kind of throw them out there for you… One is around recruitment—diversifying recruitment… Tom was specifically interested in how we could reach out to scholars. Is that correct? So, that’s one piece of what we can be doing better, just casting that net wider and sharing information. And two was not just maintaining, but expanding the network of alumni. Like Tom shared, you have these instances where people are simply putting together Facebook pages or other platforms to stay connected with one another. How can we make sure that those sort of disaggregated instances of social networks popping up remain connected to a greater whole where you guys could access both individuals, resources—perhaps job opportunities—or ideas. So, maintaining and expanding the alumni network, so that’s the second bucket. Lastly, I’ll just call it “BUILD”—imagine “BUILD” in all caps. I think this is where all the possibilities around the table are really based on what you guys really want to do. It could be around open education. So many of you are scholars and teachers in and of your own right. How could you be contributing that content, whether it’s curriculum or otherwise, to a greater sphere, and/or using what’s out there to inform what you share with your own students? Another could simply be community projects. I know that the Fulbright network is one that gives back readily to their own local networks, regional, even nationwide, so that certainly could be expanded upon. Finally, it’s fill in the blank. Whether it’s the MTV of Fulbright partnership where that’s around music, and collaborate around music, but really, it could be just a fill in the blank. So, Josephine’s focus around dance and inspiring kids through movement to become connected with one another virtually. So with that, just to kind of lay out those three buckets. And one last idea… We went through and asked you what kind of platforms you’re on. And Ross made the point that mobile is so important when we’re looking at a globally disaggregated network. There’s no one silver bullet platform. I think we’re all quite convinced of that. You’ve got to take a multifaceted approach and it’s got to be a platform that you guys want to participate on. This is not about sort of forcing people into a space and hoping that they come, but rather encouraging you guys to build and giving you the resources to do so, and letting you take it away. So with that, let’s start taking questions and your ideas based on these awesome presentations.

Who’s up first. It’s scary. We’ve got an online. Talk to me.

Unknown Announcer: Yet another one from Twitter asking…and this is for Tom… If the TED fellows populate their bios themselves online, how do you encourage them all to do so and ensure that they do. And as a follow-up for me, how do you make sure they maintain up-to-date information?

Tom Rielly, Fellows Director, TED: Torture. (laughter) No, the way that you get… First of all, it is a challenging problem, and so it’s basically about cheerleading. So we, twice a year, will go out to them and [ask if they] have new stuff to put in the program. And one of the things that we’re engineering right now that isn’t finished right now, but one of the things that’s cool about the profile is that you can say where you are. And every time you change where you are, it posts a notice to the private Facebook page. So, what we hope to do is, any time you change anything about the content, it posts a notice to the private Facebook group, and then people are given incentive to go find out what’s new about what you’re doing. And if that mechanism is in, then there’s a kind of gaming mechanism that will keep people posting, if that makes any sense. But, it is not easy.

Suzanne Philion: Any other questions? Yes, please. The microphone is coming to you.

Audience member: I poked occasionally into the alumni networks, and not infrequently like some of the postings or career story, which are somewhat self-serving , frankly.  And I guess the question I have is… Is the approach toward crowd sourcing in these platforms, and with Fulbright, would it be better to have facilitation and active administration?

Tom Rielly: I think there’s a hybrid. What we do is, the vast majority of the work is done by the members or the fellows themselves, but we inject into the system and keep an eye on it. So, they’re doing storytelling about each other, but we feel that sometimes they’re not going to boast about themselves, so we go in and do some storytelling about them that they may not say. And this is just one of the super things that I learned about these networks is that you have to pay and invest in storytellers.

Josephine Dorado, New School, funksoup.com: I would say the same about our chapter in that there is an active facilitation behind it, in general, so I and a few people on the Board of Directors in the New York chapter, as Tom said, inject content into it to just keep the ball rolling. But then what happens after that is that the ball does keep rolling, so there are people that aren’t on the Board of Directors that take that ball and really run with it. It’s a full circle.

Audience member: I have a question up here. I just want to thank you all first for coming, and I remember meeting Tom Rielly 20 years ago…

Tom Rielly: When I did look like Michael Phelps.

Audience member: Yes, he did. And he was wearing what is still one of my favorite t-shirts of all time—it was a queer digital group… The t-shirt said, “Click and drag.” (laughter)

Tom Rielly: It’s actually, “Click and drag queen.” (laughter)

Audience member: Yes, it was. So, one of the things you said, Tom, was that people not only get things from the Fulbright fellows program, but they also have to give. So, if you were me, running the Fulbright program, and we were telling our new, young Fulbright fellows what they had to give in return for what they’re getting, and that has to do with being in the digital space, what would you suggest as the kinds of things we should be getting from their talent back to the program?

Tom Rielly: The first thing is, I would ask them, because your young people in your program know better what they want to contribute. As we’ve heard in the MTV example of people making music, and other people making documentary films and injecting that kind of content into the network is a wonderful thing. I think some of the things we’ve seen working well is when people are telling people about their peers, you know… We have people who are on the cover of Nature or won an academy award, these crazy, crazy big achievements, we’ll talk about that and it will spur discussion about that person and the person’s work. The other thing that’s cool is to talk about collaboration. Then, one thing that is very successful is people put fellowship and scholarship opportunities out there, but they’re posted mostly by the Fellows. I mean, we put a few, but… I guess, what to ask back… To me, I would settle with a great story—a great story about their experience in Malawi or Uganda or wherever they were working. And however they wanted to tell that story, whether it was text and photographs or movies or audio. Then, I guess the other thing I would ask… I mean, the whole point of what they do in the field is they’re doing a service project, right? So, if there is some way to stay connected to that project or do another project when they come back to their life, but we’ve seen that a person gets way more out of the fellowship if they’re contributing.

Jordan Bitterman, Senior Vice President, Digitas: I would also add to that, what’s interesting is that most people who’ve been Fulbright scholars would probably agree with this, is that the year spent in Malawi or Paris or Kosovo isn’t actually even the best part of being part of the Fulbright program. The idea is that, once you’re in, there’s almost a lifetime participation, because there’s a lifelong commitment. The best part of being a member of any organization or community is participating in that community fully. So, the idea—and this is an amazing experience that people have—and when you’re going into it, you might think [about the learning they’re] going to get and the contributions they’re going to make is the best part. The best part is that, in a way, you’re kind of set up, because you have this opportunity to discuss, to interview, to interact with so many different people who can help you along. So, the thing you would give back is to help other people along. And sometimes it’s not even helping someone along who’s younger than you or just starting out, it’s actually helping someone out who’s been in it for a long time and could help from your connection. It’s that intermingling of connection that’s really, really the gift to get.

Suzanne Philion: Can I ask a quick question before we continue? How many people in the audience are affiliated with the Fulbright program directly? Show of hands. And of you, how many are alumni at state.gov? So, I’ve got some happy news, because there was a difference in the number of hands that went up. Our alumni team is really taking a close look at that network, which is a service that we at the State Department try to provide to keep you guys all connected. And what we’ve heard is that it’s imperfect. It’s not really… I’m trying to be diplomatic. They pay me for a reason. (laughter) It’s really not answering what you need. And the intent there was not just to provide a space where you all could stay connected—you know, again, with this very high-level crew in affiliation for life—but also to resources. Job opportunities, grants, whatever it might be. So, we’ve heard you loud and clear. And I’m very happy to report that while it’s not looking at silver bullet solutions, certainly this is one platform that we hope you will look to and provide us feedback on. In the next few months, you’re going to see some changes, not just from system functionality and design—like break it apart and make it open and accessible—but also just as a very necessary link to whatever sites you might live on in your own personal and professional lives. So, if you go on there and you’re looking to do a project or simply find someone who is affiliated with a previous Fulbright scholarship you might have heard of—someone you’re fascinated to get to know—we’re trying to make it easier for you to find those people and then for you guys to select where you go to have your discussions and your interactions. So those choices will be more yours, so there will be one more tool in your tool box and you can look for that happy story in the next few months.

Tom Rielly: A peer and I have discovered that some programs are a top-down proprietary system that doesn’t work, doesn’t scale, and people are not into it. And the way I would pose is is, I showed you a combination of off-the-shelf tools like Facebook, plus a custom directory. And what I’d say is, for all the communications stuff, that should all be off-the-shelf, because you shouldn’t ask a person to change their social media habits for communications. If they want to uses Facebook or Twitter, they should be able to and that should be great. And then if there’s a part like a job directory or databank that doesn’t lend itself to those tools, then go for it, except that there’s a million ASPs out there that have all of those functions, too. I think that you should think about your online tools as a federation, not as like the eSoviet block. (laughter)

Suzanne Philion: He’s such a diplomat. (laughter) Questions?

Audience member (Tom Healy?): I’d just like you to repeat that, Tom. I think it’s an important thing for us at the State Department to know about how the right kinds of solutions that work worldwide for hundreds of thousands of alums are…

Tom Rielly: Well, I think it’s a federation of lots of technologies that really work well.  Like Twitter and Facebook, and I’m not a huge fan of LinkedIn, but that works, too, and blogs. And then what you guys can do is provide a directory that helps you find all that stuff. But I would encourage people that return from Malawi or whatever, that you set up your own Fulbright thing and then if you can make it cool with the granularity of continuity with the 10 people that you were in contact with for that year, you can keep that group going. That is an awesome contribution, but there should be a way for other people to find it.

Suzanne Philion: Tom Healy, you are recognized.

Tom Healy: [Suzanne], thank you. I just want to give you some examples of this kind of connection that we have seen, some amazing things around the world. I was just in Egypt and I was giving a lecture on poetry and revolution. And the question came up from one of the teachers I with, “Well, how could we create a curriculum in Arabic about this? I don’t speak or read Arabic, and I don’t know the history of Egyptian literature all that well.” But within two days, we had twelve people on Facebook who [previously] had Fulbrights and who were literature professors and who created together this curriculum. And that group, that association, may last a short period of time, or a long period of time, but it was there and easy to find to give that expertise. The second example was when I was in the regional conference of young Fulbrighters in the Middle East. Women there were facing a lot of challenges. Now, through the Arab Spring, there is a lot of access that they didn’t expect to have, but a lot of ambivalence when women would get there to talk with political leaders about things. And a few women had experiences where they got into the room and the men they went to interview walked out because they were suddenly face to face with the realization that it really was a woman who was coming to see them. And there was a connection between women who had just been to the Middle East on Fulbrights and those who were there sharing research tools—contacts that could help open doors for them—and that kind of experience was immediate. And again, I think short terms, but the way that the current Fulbrighters connected to past ones for access.

Suzanne Philion: That’s awesome. Let’s do this, you guys. I see a lot of questions. Let’s gather like 3 or 4 questions and have the panelists think on it and then have more of a conversation. There was a hand up over here. Please… We’ve got a mic right behind you.

Audience member: So, I actually came back from Mexico about a year ago, so I right now more identify myself with the Mexico Fulbright community and I’m just becoming an alumni. So, I think a lot of the conversation is centered around tools that the alumni community can use  in the digital sphere, but we haven’t talked so much about how when one initially becomes part of the Fulbright community, they become part of it in a different country. How do we equip those program officers in a specific country to utilize the tools, because we barely utilized Facebook, and we could have really mobilized and pushed and done items if we used a hashtag on some social issues, but it was all about place making and physically convening, and it was not building out a digital community.

Suzanne Philion: Great question. Okay, so I saw a hand over here. Yes. Oh, sorry. Noah…

Noah (from audience): Hi. Yes, I was really fascinated, Josephine, in a project that you worked on, partly because you used Second Life. And for a lot of us in the digital world, Second Life feels like something that people looked at 5 years ago, but nobody’s there anymore. But you did something really interesting and creative with it, so I’m wondering for the panel, how important is it to find these spaces that are really talent for what you’re looking for and are there a lot of what we might consider old technologies that, in the digital world, could be reconfigured and used for something like this.

Josephine Dorado: Thank you.

Suzanne Philion: Another question. Yes.

Audience member: My name is Aaron ??? and I was a Fulbright writer also in Mexico in 2008-2009. I’m not exactly sure how my challenges I faced fit into the digital conversation, but I was really interested in coalition building and trying to find fellow Fulbrighters, both who were from Mexico and in my own cohort to work on projects together to build alliances and coalitions on issues. I’m an anthropologist was working on sustainable world development and I just had a ton of problems trying to do that. I did informal stuff where I met friends at the various reunions and orientations, and I’ve actually stayed on in Mexico for the last two-and-a-half years and started a communications firm, Documentary Film, and I’m still trying to connect with Fulbrighters and having trouble with that. And I’m happy to try to work that out if people are interested in finding connections and professional synergies.

Suzanne Philion: Thank you for that. One more and then we’ll go to the panel.

Audience member: Can you hear me? Okay. In my area of expertise in African music and dance, people know very little about what is out there and how to get the information that they need, such as notation for music and notation for movement or dance forms, so we need a way we can broaden that so everybody can be operating on the same page. Because right now, African music and dance is dying, and as soon as somebody dies, so it’s going to the grave with them. And I’ve been fortunate to work with the legends of the post-colonial cultural awakening movement. But I’m just one person and we need to  expand desperately, because I can’t 50,000 places at once. I teach a group in Long Island, I’m with Dance Africa, but I can’t be everywhere. So I’d like to know how I can utilize all three or four of the people up here to expand the program so they can get it right so that everybody won’t be doing just West African dance, which is Maurice Senghor’s work that he did in 1970-71. So if you can help me on that, I’d appreciate it.

Suzanne Philion: Thank you. Okay, so we’ve got some great questions, guys. First, how do we think about starting networks of Fulbrighters even before they enter into alumni status. We’ve got reconfiguring old tech for today’s opportunities. We’ve got educating people in a way to like level the playing field. And we’ve got building coalitions, generally. Take it away.

Jordan Bitterman: I think I can start here, and I think I’m going to have a softball for Ross. There seems to be a theme throughout a number of those conversations, and around the conversations we’ve been having all afternoon today, which is that what the people in this room do is very specific. Right? And that might seem in a lot of cases to be somewhat limiting in terms of building communities because, how many people, Doris, as you just said, are professional grade, or approaching that, in your field of expertise? What’s amazing about this, and when you think about it—and Ross put up the status for us during his presentation—there’s 400 million people on Twitter and 140 million people who are active on Twitter. And I guarantee you, there are a dozen or so that are in your world, and in all of our worlds, and so what this has become is not something where we’re anonymous, it’s actually the exact opposite of that. It’s something that has very much coalescing, and it brings us together in small communities. You know, Facebook, obviously not where Ross works, talks about how all your communities are basically like snowflakes. They’re all individually unique. So I have however many friends I have on Facebook or followers on Twitter, and even though I might have 200 people that follow me, and that I follow, and Josephine has 200, as well, they’re entirely different. And so I can build communities, all of us can build communities in specific areas that we’re interested in. In Mexico, before you go or when you come back, you can start something that has a legacy that lives on. And whether that’s coalescing around hashtag conversations or whether that’s around a group of people who are connected as a community to talk, those conversations just go from there.

Ross Hoffman, Strategic Partnerships, Twitter: Yeah, and I’m wondering if it necessarily has to be limited to that subset of Fulbrights or if it can just be limited to people who share those common interests, which was your point. And also, with the woman in the back… I feel like there’s a lot of entities right now on Twitter that are sharing content from the past that may not have really surfaced to people now. An example that I can think of is SI Vault, which is just old pictures of athletes throughout the generations from Sports Illustrated—one of my favorite accounts to follow—but it’s really incredible. Some of the pictures are 50, 60, 70 years old. I’ve never seen them. They’re really relevant, they’re really interesting, and they get shared around. So I think it’s like that with your expertise that you’ve picked up, you can easily share that information with a lot of other people. And in terms of the class that you teach, I forget where it was, but taking that content—it’s of some cost to you in terms of time in terms of you connecting with these people, but what are you doing with it? Are you distributing that content or are you talking about it with other people? Whereas, I think a lot of times it may be, well, this is what happened and here’s the end result. It should be, this is what’s happening. So they do this with movie trailers. They leak some information, they take some footage, they build up anticipation so that you have emotional equity in it, so you go to the theatre and you see that movie. So I think it’s the same kind of thing with these types of interests where you can connect with people by simply doing a search on Twitter or Google or even on Facebook where you’re connected with these communities that are out there. Try to go through interests as opposed to other subsets of groups.

Suzanne Philion: So, again on that question, Josephine, could I ask you to respond to the question—kind of reconfiguring these technologies to current situations and current challenges.

Josephine Dorado: Absolutely. So first off, I want to say that I’m not married to any particular platform as far as virtual worlds go, and the different programs, we did use multiple programs within the virtual world applications like Second Life. But we also used Metaplace, which doesn’t exist anymore—well, it exists, but in a different way. Also, there’s Open Sym. (??) It’s not so much about the platform, it’s about the story that you want to tell, so for the moment, Second Life is the one that fits the bill for now because it does really granular customizations around avatars, which are used for identity exploration. So, we use it for that. There has been sort of an up and down valley to the users in Second Life where it had a lot of brand presence in it. And now, it’s a little smaller community, but the interesting thing is that the communities are tighter on it. So, there are a lot of educators in Second Life and a lot of non-profits, activists, and artists, so the communities are smaller, but they’re tighter, so for now, that fits the bill. When the next platform comes out, maybe it will be Open Sym (??) and open source based, which we will definitely explore, but I would basically say that, rather than having a techno-centric view of how to make this or that platform work, it’s more to look at the story—the story that you’re trying to tell—and then tailor the solution to it, which could be just one solution or many different solutions.

Tom Rielly: All four of us have mentioned the importance of storytelling, so that could be one of the other skills you train incoming Fulbright scholars on is how to tell their own story. Whether it’s working by themselves, or working with their larger cohort, because that would be another amazing skill for them to have for the rest of their life. And that would contribute significantly to the network.

Suzanne Philion: I think we have time for a couple more questions. Yes.

Audience member: I’m Michael ??? from .sub. We work with scores of very large global communities, and this is not really a question, but a comment perhaps… People do things online primarily for two reasons: if you want recognition, and for reward. And the concept of virtual currency is something that is quite controversial. The virtual currency of S&H Green Stamps was the first one, frequent flyer miles next, and so it very well could be that you could create Fulbright points. And Fulbright points could be awarded on different levels for doing things on the Fulbright alumni web site or something. Then, either Fulbright itself, other organizations that would like to connect with Fulbright could then offer rewards for building up Fulbright points. So, if you got 500 Fulbright points, you might be able to go to a conference or you might be able to do something else or get a t-shirt. You know, from a Farmville in Zinga, there’s a sort of negative connotation of virtual currency, but it’s a very powerful motivator for having score board and score cards and virtual currency. So just as a suggestion, I don’t really have an idea of what would be the metrics, but this would be a way to get a global community too engage in a global network, as such. I think it could be very powerful.

Suzanne Philion: I love the idea of incentivizing a network. We’ve got a couple of questions online. Why don’t we take both.

Audience member (again): Actually, I just wanted to follow up on that. I wanted to do a little “yes, and…”

Suzanne Philion: You mic hogger, you. (laughter)

Audience member: I work on social media along with Meg at ECA on the Fulbright Program, and one of the things we are developing are badges for all Fulbright scholars, incoming scholars including the four that are sitting up there, for them to post on their social profiles to promote themselves as Fulbrighters and scholars. That’s something we hope to be rolling out to everyone slowly, but we love that idea of helping everybody to “push” themselves and promote themselves in the way that you’re talking about.

Tom Rielly: That’s mostly social status and recognition, as opposed to being able to buy something. I can tell you that we instituted badges and credibility points within the community. We’ll say how cool you are based on how much you participate, and participate in various parts of the web site and doing other stuff gives you an automatic bump. Like, if you’re a fellow, you get a bump, and it has been incredibly successful, so I think that’s an awesome idea.

Ross Hoffman: I think you’re better served… So for example, I feel like a lot of times, if you’re a marketer or an individual who’s looking for someone to do something, you have to look at, for example, are your incentives in line. Why should they do [what you want them to do?] And number two, is it a naturally occurring behavior, or are you just going to go in there and try to force someone to change their behavior completely, which is an uphill behavior to begin with. So, to the gentleman who’s an anthropologist, you can see that happening all the time throughout history and something you want to take into consideration. Is it partially or fully something that people are doing already? And would they be willing to do it within whatever timeframe you’re wanting to reach.

Suzanne Philion: Over here, I saw a couple more.

Audience member: I really like the idea of individuals stepping up and learning all that is needed to become a digital change maker. My question is, how important is it for the Fulbright cohort to find rock stars who are already doing the things about which we are talking? I’m sure there are people in every part of the world who are doing the things that need to be done with other Fulbrighters and to connect the different worlds they are from. How can you quickly find those people within the current network if we had zero time and justification. You know, how can that be done in a way that’s familiar to people who are past cohorts, as well as the ones coming in.

Suzanne Philion: Let’s take that one right now.

Jordan Bitterman: I think you can start with the people right here in this room. We’ve been talking about this for the last couple of hours and we’ve been talking about what the benefits are of doing it. I think I can probably speak for my panel mates here by saying that it needs to feel authentic to you. And what’s authentic to you is different than what’s authentic to the person next to you, but in one way or another… This is not a trend. It’s not something that’s going away. This is just human communication. And I like the idea of “worth recognition.” I know that sounds a bit gruff to some people who won’t necessarily want to admit that. It’s a little unnatural, like ??? Jones felt, to talk about yourself. We’ve been talking about ourselves forever. That’s what we do. We go to dinner parties and we talk about ourselves and we ask about other people, so think about it as kind of a dinner party conversation. What is it you would like to tell your audience even though you’re not sitting there over cocktails and drinks? (laughter) Which is awesome. But think about what you would say at that dinner conversation about yourself. You’re just doing it virtually and you’re understanding that there is going to be some reward and recognition. You’re giving it, or you’re getting it, or both. And we all have responsibility for our own careers and our own advancement and the advancement of this organization to do that.

Suzanne Philion: Let’s take one more question, and then I’m going to ask our panelists to give us a one-sentence take-away. No pressure, though.

Audience member: Hi, my name is Kristin, and I did a Fulbright ETA to Malta in 2010. A lot of the discussion is talking about Fulbrighters and keeping us connected either before, during, or after. But my question would be, relation to technology, the projects that we do while we’re there deal usually with a lot of students—either middle school or high school—and similar to Josephine, I have worked on a project that connected students in the U.S. with students abroad. One of my challenges was having a space for my students to connect on their own, outside their educator’s, because of privacy things like with Facebook in schools with children. So my question is whether Fulbright as a community can create, a platform, not only for Fulbright scholars to communicate, but the students their working with to communicate with one another in a private—in terms of private for schools so they could allow that, but also so students can continue to have that conversation. Thank you.

Josephine Dorado: I think one of the things we could look at is the alumni [section] on the state.gov web site as a way to not only learn about what is being done in the Fulbright community, but also to provide a space for participants that might be in those programs. As far as younger students go, the privacy issue is something that is very present, so that is something we could look at, but there’s also a crowd sourcing that happens within high schools themselves. So I’ve found that working with different high schools, even internationally, that you only have to mention what the problem is and they’ll creatively problem solve that for you. A lot of high school students are digital natives, so they’re not afraid of trying new things. So, we could definitively brainstorm around it, but getting the students involved to creatively come up with their own solutions so that they actually own it and they own the network and they own the thing that they build would be something that’s even more engaging.

Suzanne Philion: I know we’re coming to the close of our time and I want to ask each of our panelists to share some closing thoughts. We’ll go in reverse order. Dr. Tom Rielly…

Tom Rielly: Wow! I didn’t expect that. Uh…

Suzanne Philion: You’ve got a badge.

Tom Rielly: I’ve got a badge. I guess, everything I’ve been talking about today is about the structure and the “how” of stuff. I’m not questioning the “what” of Fulbright in any way. Obviously, half my family is Fulbright scholars. I obviously had so much envy that I had to find my own fellowship program. (laughter) But anyway, I’ve been talking about the “how” because I’m assuming that the what is a good thing, because I know what it is. But I think it’s time to rethink the “how” and to rethink the “what can we do” and how we can encourage people to use technology, to use storytelling, to use real-life events, to use other things to kind of make the organization more relevant, more useful… And if I were doing it, I would start with the most recent graduates and work backwards—you know, older, older, older… Because the first ones are the most likely to have an easier time with it. Not that the ones back a couple of generations can’t do technology. I can do technology and I’m 100, but I think they could be a great laboratory. And the most important thing is, don’t design it. Let them design it. Help them design it, but don’t design it. Let your own constituents design it because they know better than you do, and ask them what they want. Really do some great research on technology and storytelling. And then, I think the notion of skills building when someone’s coming into the program is a really good thing. What we do in the fellows program is we teach a lot about communication stuff, especially presenting, because that’s what TED is all about. And, you know, it’s a terrifying, horrifying process that causes nerves and fear and anxiety, but when you get out on the other side of it, you really know how to present. So, I don’t know what training you guys get already, you probably get a lot, but additional training could be a really good thing. And think about that fellowship as starting on day one and going on forever.

Suzanne Philion: Ross, some take-aways?

Ross Hoffman: Yeah, I would say be really mobile focused. In terms of technology, there are a billion smart phone users out there. There are 7 billion mobile phone users, so it’s a lot larger audience. Don’t just think of a desktop. And with respect to technology, just embrace it more. It’s not too late to get involved in any platform. You can do it by creating an anonymous account and just getting used to it, and then setting up what you like. And with a lot of them, you don’t even need to create any content, you can just be resetting someone else’s content, like reTweet what you found interesting, or maybe add a little color in sending it out there, but it’s a really easy way for you to connect with people and broadcast your message.

Suzanne Philion: Thank you so much. Josephine…

Josephine Dorado: I love to talk about skydiving, so I’m just going to bring it right back around to that. One of the first commandments of skydiving is, be brave. So, I will bring that into it because I feel skydiving has brought to me this idea of being brave, not just in that respect, but in all my life. As an entrepreneur, it’s something you have to bring to the table over and over again as you pitch an idea that’s not familiar and as you pitch something that’s really more of a vision that people can’t wrap their heads around. You just have to be brave and commit to it. So, whether that door you’re about to go through is 13,500 feet above the ground or it’s a metaphorical door in front of you—a new business, a new idea, a new career… Just jump and be brave and trust that you’ll land and that everything will be safe. And do so with the last tenant of the last commandment of skydiving, which is be joyous, because if you’re not passionate about it and joyous, then you might as well not do it. So, be brave, then be joyous.

Suzanne Philion: I love it.

Jordan Bitterman: I would have thought the last commandment would be to open your chute. (laughter)

Suzanne Philion: Details!

Jordan Bitterman: I guess that leads to being joyous.

Suzanne Philion: The last commandment is Tweet that you landed safely to your mom.

Jordan Bitterman: So, I would say something that’s really no different than what has already been said, but, lean in and participate. There’s an equation we uses in social marketing, which is “ninety-nine, one” which adds up to 100. 90% of the people in social networks are basically listeners, they’re voyeurs. And that’s fine. That’s okay. 9% will comment, so they’ll pass things around and comment a little bit. Then 1% are true creators. They’re the people who create the content in these social media. Pick who you are, but if we had more of the one and the nine, we would have a much more dynamic sort of community. And I’m sure this community falls a little more in the one and nine area just by the virtue of what everyone does, but do that. Be the creators who comment and add to that conversation.

Suzanne Philion: Awesome. (speaking to Tom Rielly) Please.

Tom Rielly: Can you hire someone to work on your name, alum.gov? Can you come up with a sexier name, maybe? (laughter)

Suzanne Philion: Maybe we could crowd source it. So, everybody… If you use  the hashtag Fulbright, send us your ideas. I’m sure that some of my colleagues from the alumni team are watching, I know they heard that.

Tom Rielly: Just teasing. (laughter)

Suzanne Philion: We’re open to really being at work for you guys, so throw them out there. We’d be open to that idea, absolutely. So, I just wanted to thank everybody, both for coming here and being a part of this conversation today on a rainy day in New York. I want to thank the viewer online audience for sending in your awesome thoughts and ideas. And just to remind you guys of the creative juices we had flowing around today, we had some comments that we could redesign digital engagement as one continuum to really connect Fulbrighters throughout the process. Building coalitions around specific opportunities and maybe leveraging storytelling to really do so throughout. Linking people together through mentorships and leveraging the long-time knowledge base of a lot of the community members who want to keep participating. These are just three of the ideas. This is a non-exhaustive space. Keep the ideas coming, whether renaming alumni.gov or otherwise, using the hashtag Fulbright. Thank you to the panelists, and thank you to you guys.


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