Clinton, McHale, Stock celebrate anniversaries of IVLP and NCIV

This week marked the celebration of two prominent milestones in citizen diplomacy and people-to-people exchanges: the 70th Anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and the 50th Anniversary of the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV).

The Department of State released a 70th Anniversary Video to commemorate its premier professional exchange program, while NCIV debuted the video “The NCIV Network: Shaping History One Handshake at a Time” at its 50th Anniversary Gala on Wednesday night.

In her opening remarks at the 2011 NCIV Annual Meeting yesterday, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock applauded the NCIV network for its hard work in welcoming international visitors to the United States and for shaping America’s image abroad. As Assistant Secretary Stock said:

“When you meet Americans, you meet American values.”

At NCIV’s 50th Anniversary Luncheon, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale stressed the ever-increasing necessity of people-to-people relations and remarked:

“As we have seen time and again, nothing can replace the power and impact of personal experience. That is why exchange programs such as the International Visitor Leadership Program have been a vital component of American public diplomacy, and why we are committed to sustaining and strengthening them. We fund these programs because they directly support the State Department’s foreign policy mission.”

During a reception honoring the NCIV network last night at the Department of State, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton especially welcomed NCIV President Sherry Mueller and Vice President Mark Rebstock and underlined her own belief in the power of citizen diplomacy and people-to-people exchanges:

“I believe very strongly that in the 21st century, statecraft cannot just be government-to-government. It has to be government-to-people, and most importantly, people-to-people. So we are always looking for opportunities to engage civil society, women, youth, and everyone else. And that’s why the work of the International [Visitor] Leadership Program and the National Council are so vital.”