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Gary FisherChevening, London
I have concentrated (rightly) in this blog about the changes to the Chevening programme in recent weeks, and of course that situation is still ongoing. It is what I am spending a lot of my time working on. But the focus of this Chevening Conversation is not simply about people interested in Chevening, it is about current Chevening scholars and the global alumni network. 30 thousand plus of them – a network that I have tried to join on the twitter and Facebook platforms that launched this year. We also launched a new networking site for members. I am not keen on writing about costs but while it is a new website, it is one that costs just a few hundred pounds a year to run. That is very relevant today.
I was wondering where to focus this blog over the last couple of days but then bumping into the Foreign Office’s Head of Digital Diplomacy in the corridor gave me the answer. Jimmy Leach has just blogged with a call to arms to developers to help widen the reach of our travel advice. In fact some of you Chevenings (for that is what I call you) or anyone reading this may have thoughts on that particular exercise. It reminded me though that while Chevening now has a strong digital footprint and while work on the review of Chevening is crucial and ongoing – and indeed where much of my focus is - it is still vital that we get on and develop the Chevening networked world. We need to know when it is already delivering a difference and where, so that it can become a network that delivers for both of us.
We need to move on from a relatively static network to understand the expertise within it; so that we know when it is already delivering a difference; where it is delivering a difference; so that Chevenings can share knowledge and so that (eventually) we all know where to go to discuss ideas and initiatives. Easy to say, but I am fortunate that a Chevening scholar that already works and studies in that field has offered to research and ultimately build that for us. It might have traditionally been more natural to approach a service provider but this way isn’t lazy. It means that Chevenings are directly involved in building and sustaining the network.
I want to widen this. If you are a Chevening scholar or alumnus and have thoughts about how to build the network then tell me. I would particularly be interested in hearing from anyone that can make it happen. I might not be able to give you the money but I can give you other tools.
While I am in the mood to steal ideas from my colleagues blogs – how do you think we can develop this excellent initiative from Guatemala, with Chevening in mind? Or perhaps Chevening can learn from the Changemakers in the Philippines?