Message to our Fellows on the Covid-19 pandemic

Dear Eisenhower Fellows,

 

Hope this finds you and your loved ones healthy and in a safe place during these difficult days in the world. Thank you all for your support, your patience and your understanding as we navigate the unprecedented situation presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Seems like only yesterday that nearly 250 Fellows and invited guests from 37 countries gathered for a spectacular global conference on the Future of Education in Cartagena, Colombia, putting on vivid display the electric energy you generate whenever Eisenhower Fellows come together.

 

Since then we have been closely following developments in this global crisis and our hearts go out to all the members of our global family whose nations have been ravaged by the rapacious spread of the coronavirus.

 

We have watched with sadness as this deadly disease has emerged from China to attack nation after nation--South Korea and Japan, Italy and Spain, Australia and India, France and Germany--then entire regions at once, first Europe and Asia, now Latin America and Africa, concentrating its greatest destruction so far on the new global epicenter of this once-in-a-century plague, the United States.

 

In Philadelphia, where like three-fourths of all Americans we are under stay-at-home order, the staff at Eisenhower Fellowships has been working remotely for three weeks now and we are practicing all recommended health safety measures. We have used this time to immerse ourselves in intensive planning to adapt our fellowship programs this year to these fast-changing circumstances disrupting life everywhere.

 

We announced recently that we have postponed all of our spring programs and activities, including our Annual Meeting and related events, until this fall. We have also decided to postpone until 2021 our next in-person Global Network Council meeting, which would have been our second this year after Cartagena.

 

But please be assured that we remain committed to our mission of connecting and empowering exceptional leaders like you with other like-minded individuals to enhance international understanding and promote the kind of collaborations that generate concrete impact and help better our world.

 

To that end, we have rescheduled our programs for this fall and the Eisenhower Fellowships Annual Meeting will be held in Philadelphia on Wednesday, October 14, with follow-on events the next day, October 15. As we announced in Cartagena, we will be honoring Juan Jose Guemes of Spain with the EF 2020 Distinguished Fellow Award.


In the meantime, I'm pleased to announce that we will engaging our Fellows' network online with new virtual programming over the coming months, checking in with you to see how you're coping with the pandemic in your countries and eventually convening web-based discussions on other topics.

 

Today I want to begin by issuing a network-wide call for short videos from each country chapter relating how our Fellows have been coping with the Covid-19 pandemic in your country. We will then share your videos via social media with the entire EF global network. Please submit your videos to ike@efworld.org.

 

Then, beginning in mid-April, we plan to launch a regular series of online family chats to check in with our country chapters for broader discussions about how you are coping and adapting to this global crisis. We envision doing at least two or three of these per week, region by region, until we reach most countries in our global network, then doing it all over again as a regular way to keep in touch with our global family as we all confront this crisis. Erin Hillman, our Vice President for Programs and Operations, will be reaching out to you with a schedule for these virtual meetings and other details soon.

 

Eventually we envision this method of virtual convening as a regular tool for outreach on other topics, having Fellows and outside speakers give talks and participate in discussions about various topics to help drive engagement and impact.

 

The broader aim is to develop these interactive virtual communications approaches as effective new tools for programming our network in the future and incorporate this as a regular feature in the next stage of our strategic evolution. 

 

Separately we will be sharing with all our country chapters a revised program schedule for our Global, USA, Zhi-Xing and Women's Leadership Program this fall, when we plan to host two international programs back-to-back in Philadelphia.

 

To allow us to host Eisenhower Fellows in these extraordinary times, we have been forced to make some necessary modifications from our usual program design this fall in our Global, Women’s Leadership and USA Programs.

 

Some highlights:

 

--We plan to welcome the first international Fellows, our Global Fellows, to Philadelphia on September 16 and bid adieu to our departing Women’s Leadership Program Fellows on November 12. We will welcome the 2020 Zhi-Xing and USA Fellows in Philadelphia to join us for the Global Program Opening Seminar on September 16-17.

 

--Our two international programs will overlap the week of our Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on Oct. 14 and 15, with the Closing Seminar of the Global Program coinciding with the Opening Seminar of the Women’s Leadership Program. They will be joined in Philadelphia that week by our 2019 USA and Zhi-Xing China Fellows for our Annual Meeting events.

 

--We will be compressing the Global and Women’s Leadership Programs to 4.5 weeks each. We will make up for some of the compressed program time with planned virtual Pre-Opening Seminar sessions for our Global and Women’s Leadership Fellows. This will include holding Zoom sessions for their initial project planning discussions, their overall orientation about the fellowship experience and a leadership development dimension.

 

--To minimize risk of possible exposure to unforeseen future travel quarantines or viral infection, we will not be able to sponsor accompanying travel by spouses and/or domestic partners for this year’s Global, Women’s Leadership and USA Programs.

 

We are undertaking these changes reluctantly to ensure we provide all our Fellows with the premier world-class fellowship programs that are the hallmark of Eisenhower Fellowships. At the same time, we are excited about approaching this as a wonderful chance to develop new tools in our toolkit that we can use effectively for future programs and to engage our amazing global network of Fellows long after the coronavirus is gone.

 

Thank you again for your many expressions of support as we work our way through this complex set of challenges. The mission and work of Eisenhower Fellowships has never been more important or relevant, all over the world.

 

We look forward to welcoming you to Philadelphia this fall for our Annual Meeting Oct. 14 so you can meet our incoming cohorts of Eisenhower Fellows as they begin their travels and a transformative experience that will engage them for a lifetime with this organization we all cherish.

 

Until then, please be safe and keep yourselves and your loved ones healthy. I look forward to seeing you again on the other side of this.

 

Warmest regards,

 

George

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