Andrea Welsh, SFS ’17, holds a Master’s of Global Human Development.
The Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship was launched in 2012 under the leadership of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in order to support the development of foreign government ministries and institutions with the day-to-day support of a special assistant. The program places Fellows in a variety of public policy areas including economic development, education, environment, gender equality, justice, and public health. Today, there are currently Fellows serving in Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Samoa, Cote D’Ivoire, Ukraine, Guatemala, Peru, Malawi, and Chile.
As a graduate of Georgetown’s Master of Global Human Development program, I was excited to apply my international development and public policy experience to work in a foreign government. My goal was to identify an opportunity that offered direct experience with the process to develop and create public policy at the country-level and in order to learn how the international community can provide more effective support during this process.
In September 2017, I was fortunate to be selected as a Fulbright Public Policy Fellow with the assignment to serve in Myanmar’s Ministry of Education in the Department of Technical and Vocational Education and Training. In my role as a Fellow, I directly advise the senior leadership of the Department on policy reform, build project management capacity of civil service staff, establish and maintain effective working relationships with international development partners, and implement gender-focused mainstreaming and integration initiatives. This work aims to support the Department’s goal of improving the national education system in order to provide future generations of students with improved economic and career opportunities.
As part of my Fellowship, I am also engaged in a research project which focuses on the experience of our female students and teachers by examining the types of technical education they pursue, cultural and/or social barriers that arise while developing a technical skill, and employment opportunities upon graduation.
I live in Nay Pyi Taw which has served as the country’s administrative capital since 2005. Due to the importance of engaging students and teachers in effective policy reform, I have had the opportunity to travel throughout the country visiting our schools. These visits have provided invaluable insights and unique perspectives which have guided our reform efforts to diversify course offerings, reform existing curriculum and create new curriculum, and expand linkages with private sector actors to open professional opportunities for our students.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have applied my education from the School of Foreign Service to serve as a Fulbright Public Policy Fellow. It has further reinforced my belief in the critical need to build and maintain strong government institutions. As I prepare for my placement to conclude in the coming months, I am confident that the experiences and lessons I have learned as a Fellow will guide my work in public service.