Wales Delivers in Washington D.C. at International Education Conference

In this week’s blog Dr Maggie Parke, Universities Wales Market Development Manager, tells us why Global Wales went stateside to promote Welsh universities.

Each year, in a different North American city, thousands of international educators, partners, businesses, and students gather at the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Conference. Over conference sessions, receptions, plenary talks and workshops, attendees meet to work, share best practices, build international relationships, and forge new pathways into education. Wales has had a strong presence at NAFSA in recent years, with constant university attendance at various levels, and a themed reception for colleagues and partners. This year’s conference in Washington D.C. proved to be the best yet with building relationships and celebrating opportunities.

The highlight of the week was the launch of two high-profile scholarships at the Wales Reception, hosted by the British Ambassador to the United States in his residence at the British Embassy. The Minister for Education in the Welsh Government, Kirsty Williams AM, provided a celebratory statement about the strong links between Wales and the US, as well as the power of education in building relationships and lucrative partnerships. Also the Ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, officially introduced the event. Here, Universities Wales, the Global Wales partnership, and each of the universities in Wales, launched scholarships with both the Fulbright Commission and the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

These scholarships will provide mobility of students between the US and Wales at both the undergraduate and post-graduate and professional levels. They will also bring to Wales postgraduates to conduct research and expert teachers to share their experience in Welsh schools. These scholarships will also raise the profile of Wales as an education destination via their extensive networks in the US. The event had a Welsh flair with a choir flanking the entrance, singing Welsh songs as guests entered the Residence. Penderyn whisky was also there offering tastings, and there was an array of Welsh cheeses and culinary offerings from the Embassy’s resident chef.

The Wales booth inside the Convention Center highlighted the sights, landscape, culture and heritage of Wales while also providing workspace for each of the exhibiting universities to meet with their international partners. Universities were able to grow their relationships and expand partnerships in the bustling exhibit hall, which expected an attendance of 10,000 people this year. The scholarships were also announced at the U.S. State Department’s Panel Session at the conference, laying a strong foundation for Wales in the United States in the coming years.