December 9, 2011 — 2011 marks the 37th year of our partnership with The Henry Luce Foundation on the Luce Scholars Program, which provides year-long professional placements in Asia for young American leaders under the age of 29.
David Huebner, U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, and past Luce Scholar, joined this year’s graduates for their year-end wrap-up in Christchurch and Wellington, New Zealand, and shared these impressions, excerpted from his blog.
I myself was a Luce Scholar back in the Stone Age (1984-1985), before the current class of Scholars was born, and I thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with an important part of my early personal and professional development.
Back in 1984, I was placed in the office of the Hon. Koji Kakizawa, Member of the Lower House of the Japanese Diet and Parliamentary Vice Minister for the Environment, because of my interest in environmental law and policy. One of my Luce compatriots worked on a medical helicopter team that flew into the jungles of Borneo. Another worked for the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong.
The Class of 2010-2011‘s placements were as diverse and exciting as ever. I smiled to myself throughout that day’s presentations, because the room was filled with the same excitement that I recalled when my own group met on the beach in Bali 26 years ago.
The Luce Program was one of the turning points in my life. That explains in part why I’m such a partisan of youth and education exchange programs – particularly the old school, people-to-people types that truly give folks time to learn, experiment, and explore without economic expectations. I’ll take a relationship over a transaction any day. And my Luce year helped teach me that very important lesson.