First Programs: The Far East

Education is a slow-moving but powerful force. It may not be fast enough or strong enough to save us from catastrophe, but it is the strongest force available.

Senator J. William Fulbright


China was the first country to sign a Fulbright agreement with the United States on November 10, 1947. The first American Fulbright grantee was Derk Bodde, a well-known Sinologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who worked on a translation of Chinese philosophy. He recorded his experiences in a book titled Peking Diary: A Year of Revolution (New York: Henry Schuman, 1950).

(Picture) Members of the U.S. Educational Foundation in Burma meet at the home of the public affairs officer of the U.S. Information Service in Rangoon on December 15, 1953. Left to right: Dr. Tin Aung, rector, University of Rangoon; E. W. Burgess, treasurer; U Cho, executive officer and later director of the foundation; public affairs officer, U.S. Information Service; U Htun Myaing, executive assistant; and Virginia Geiger, secretary.

An educational exchange agreement with Burma, the second under the Fulbright Act, was signed on December 22, 1947. Although the first Fulbright agreement was signed with China, the first foreign Fulbright grantees were Burmese, among them nursing students associated with famed "Burma Surgeon" Gordon Seagrave's hospital and training school.


The Philippine Fulbright Scholars Association meets at the Philippine Normal College in Manila on March 4, 1951. Front row: Macario Naval, president of the college and director of the association (center), with Dr. Francis J. Colligan at his right and Dr. Walter Johnson at his left. Other guests included Dr. J. Y. Bryan, chairman of the U.S. Educational Foundation; Dr. Willis P. Porter, Fulbright professor of education; and Robert D. Kennedy, assistant cultural officer of the embassy.

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