Phillip is an alumnus of the 2022 Chinese (Mandarin) Virtual Summer Intensive program and the 2023 Chinese summer program in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. He currently serves as a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative for Virtual Engagement. In the fall of 2024, he will be attending the University of Pennsylvania to study history and political science with a full-ride scholarship through the QuestBridge National College Match.
In my first year as a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative, I worked alongside a close-knit family of 14 other representatives across the nation to lead the NSLI-Y Alumni Association. I focused on virtual outreach strategies to engage an alumni community of more than 9,000 passionate language learners and global citizens.
A hallmark of my Alumni Representative experience was going to Washington, D.C. for a workshop to learn more about my role and connect with my new colleagues. Reflecting on my recent experiences in D.C. this January, I’m deeply touched by how much clarity this workshop has given me—not only in terms of my goals for my second term as an Alumni Representative, but also better understanding my journey toward becoming the global citizen that I’ve always aspired to be.
In a way, meeting the new Alumni Representatives reminded me of how I felt when I first met my Mandarin VSI cohort back in 2022—I was shy, nervous, and eager to make a good first impression. But just like every group of NSLI-Y students I’ve been with, my anxiety quickly faded away as we Representatives bonded over our love for learning languages and furthering citizen diplomacy. From learning about the world’s different languages at the Planet Word Museum to sightseeing the majestic buildings that embody our institutions of government, I’m deeply grateful that I was able to spend so much time with my new friends while bonding over our experiences as #ExchangeAlumni.
Moments like these help me see the NSLI-Y Alumni Association as one big family of global citizens—a family I’ve always wanted to be a part of ever since I became interested in studying Mandarin Chinese abroad. I’ll certainly keep these experiences in mind as an Alumni Representative, eager to inspire our alumni family to “learn, grow, connect, and serve” together.
As I look ahead to what 2024 has in store, I’m excited to make the most of what I learned from the workshop to expand outreach to prospective NSLI-Y applicants in my local community and across the United States. Applicant outreach is a priority for me this year, especially after I was inspired by the amazing strategies proposed by my fellow Representatives during a focus group.
The workshop also taught me that communication techniques are equally as important in making NSLI-Y outreach effective. During the workshop, we had the extraordinary opportunity to meet Dr. Sam Potolicchio, the founding Executive Director of the American Councils Center for Global Leadership. I’m deeply grateful for his mentorship in helping us become more knowledgeable about how every single word in precise oral communication is essential to accomplishing our goals through persuading and captivating our audience. I look forward to applying his teachings to the outreach presentations I conduct about NSLI-Y, whether I’m sharing my NSLI-Y experience in a local classroom or answering questions about the program on a live nationwide webinar.
When I left D.C. at the end of the workshop, I knew that this wasn’t the end of my journey toward becoming a global citizen; the workshop was rather an accelerator that equipped me with the tools to make my vision a reality. Without a doubt, the precious memories, close bonds, and invaluable knowledge I gained this past January inspire me to not only continue leading my own journey toward global citizenship, but also to ensure that the Alumni Association’s nearly 10,000 alumni all have the resources to continue their personal, social, and professional journeys together.
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