Guide for business and education in the US
- Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - February 5, 2016 - 9:00am

If you have a son or daughter who is thinking of studying in the US, I hope you were able to catch our short interview on our TV show, Business & Leisure with one of the key staff members of the US Embassy.

 In the last two weeks, we had two officials from the US Embassy talk about their sections’ respective roles and their relevance to Philippine concerns.

Mr. Jim McCarthy from the Foreign Commercial Service of the US Embassy graced the show and talked about his section’s crucial role in matching business partnerships between American and Philippine companies. This section was formed back in the ’80s primarily to promote US exports to different countries.

Since 2009, according to Jim McCarthy, trade between our two countries has been increasing steadily so that by now, the two-way trail of trade is about $18 billion. The Foreign Commercial Service’s responsibility is to link US companies who come here looking for potential Philippine partners or buyers with the right Philippine parties, form trade missions, and arrange “gold key” appointments which are really one-on-one meetings between key representatives from US and local businesses. They also have what they call single company promotions for companies wanting to launch a new business or just looking to expand their existing business in the Philippines. Part of their mandate is to support the small and medium American companies and to educate them on the market opportunities here in various fields and match them with small and medium Philippine companies.

Jim McCarthy identifies the fields of infrastructure, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, green buildings, and, in the light of our enhanced mutual defense treaty, the field of security and defense as among areas where partnerships or joint ventures now would be most viable. The Foreign Commercial Service of the US Embassy also advocates for US companies who may have issues with the Philippine government on issues related to procurement, licensing, etc.  

Just last week, the embassy’s Ms. Kristin Kneedler of Education USA joined us in the show. Education USA is a student-advising service, a program of the US State Department offered through the various American embassies across the globe. According to Ms. Kneedler, the American universities are looking to have a more diversified student population and hope to have student applicants from different countries across the globe. This program now has 400 advising centers in 171 countries including the Philippines. Actually, this has been an operational center here for 10 years, but they are now in the process of ramping up their resources here and possibly providing more advising centers. They already have a working partnership with the De la Salle University where, every Saturday, they have a representative at the school to provide assistance and advice to prospective students planning to enter a state college or university in the United States.

Ms. Kneedler emphasized that Education USA does not offer scholarship grants—they offer advising services and their well-trained advisors will gladly help the students navigate through the five steps that are required in applying for enrolment in an American university or college. The trained advisors can help find the right school for students based on the course preferred, financial capability, and even help them how to write the essays required for those applications! They can point the students in the right direction and provide accurate and current information on what American schools offer, from top schools like Harvard to community colleges in less known states.

The United States has over 4,000 universities and colleges across the country and some of these actually offer financial aid or student loans that can cushion the financial burden of an expensive education.  Some of them, in fact, offer outright scholarships because these schools actually prioritize the diversification of their student pool, according to Ms. Kneedler

Speaking of scholarships and student exchange programs, many of these are sponsored by the US Embassy’s Public Affairs section.  Best known among the scholarship programs of the United States offered here is the Fulbright Scholarship Program. I was surprised to learn from US Ambassador Philip Goldberg that the Fulbright program was started in the Philippines way back in 1948.  According to the US ambassador, over 3,000 young Filipinos have benefitted from this program through the years. Another scholarship program is the Kennedy- LugarExchange where 50 young students in the high school level are sent to different schools in the United States every year to study as part of the program.Yet another very active program is the Hubert Humphrey Scholarship Program,which is geared towards older students in the college level who are interested to study government and public service in the US.

Ambassador Goldberg invites interested parents/students to contact the educational advisor in the US Embassy to get more information and advice on study opportunities.  He added the United States and the Philippines have always had a very strong relationship in education, and through the relevant section in their embassy, they continue to promote higher education opportunities in private universities in the United States for qualified and interested Filipino students even as they encourage private initiatives as well to do their share in providing study opportunities.

Back to Education USA, Ms. Kristin Kneedler informed us the embassy is preparing for a big event on Feb. 16 which they will hold at the Sofitel Hotel.  No less than 25 American universities and colleges will be represented in the fair that Education USA is staging at Sofitel barely three weeks from now.  This is actually a first for Education USA, said Ms. Kneedler, and she hopes many families will take this rare opportunity to learn more about American education through this fair.  Attendance is free to the public.

Mabuhay!!!  Be proud to be a Filipino.

Comments & Questions (email) sunshine.television@yahoo.com

ACIRC AMERICAN EDUCATION EMBASSY FOREIGN COMMERCIAL SERVICE MS. KNEEDLER MS. KRISTIN KNEEDLER NBSP PROGRAM STRONG UNITED STATES
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