The American Dream in the Modern Era
On 26 April 2017, the Fulbright Commission in coordination with the Belgian-American Chamber of Commerce and its partners organized a workshop entitled “The American Dream in the Modern Era” in Hasselt, Belgium, with a total of over 100 participants. The event was made possible by a grant from USA Study Abroad.

Why the focus on entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurship is a value shared by Americans and Belgians alike. Belgium is full of both fledgling and well-established startups as well as organizations dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurship on the local, regional, and national level. However, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium, there is still work to be done in order to further stimulate the country’s entrepreneurial culture and reach its potential as “a true innovation hub”.

Through entrepreneurship education, the Commission for Educational Exchange between the U.S., Belgium and Luxembourg hopes to encourage students to engage in entrepreneurship ventures, both in Belgium and in the United States.

Event highlights included presentations by Joseph Jaffe (CEO & Cofounder of Evol8tion) and Dirk Van Steerteghem (Director for Trade at Flanders Investment & Trade).

The event ended with an expert panel moderated by BelCham President Chris Burggraeve on “How to Be(come) Successful in a Different America”. Participants on this panel included Nabela Conte, Founding Attorney at Conte Law Firm; Tom Flattery, Partner at U.S. Steuerberatung; Alexandra Stanton, CEO of Empire Global Ventures; Erica Lutes, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission in Brussels; and Avner Bengera , Partner at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.

The event was an opportunity for the Fulbright Commission to reach a different audience and to reassure academic and entrepreneurial partners of the value of investing in the U.S.-Belgium relationship.

According to Bieke Claes, Managing Director of BelCham, the event came at just the right time. “After news emerged about potential visa changes post-election, there was quite a bit of concern both with students and entrepreneurs around the viability of obtaining temporary visas for study abroad, internships and business prospection/business development. Through the event we were able to better inform the [academic] and entrepreneurial community and address these concerns.”