Assistant Secretary Stock: “Exchanges … connect people in immediate and lasting ways”

At a luncheon of the Public Diplomacy Alumni Association (PDAA) on Tuesday, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock stressed the importance of people-to-people exchanges and discussed the strategic directions of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

Stock stressed that both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton “recognize the value of our people-to-people engagement”, and said that “every major bilateral initiative has an educational or cultural component.”

Stock said that exchanges are a key element of Secretary Clinton’s concept of smart power:

“The bottom line is that the Fulbright-Hays mission fully embodies Secretary Clinton’s concept of ‘smart power’ – by using all the tools available to achieve our 21st century foreign policy goals. Exchanges do just that; they bridge language barriers open lines of communication, and connect people in immediate and lasting ways.”

As a recent visitor to Iraq, the Assistant Secretary observed that exchanges are anchoring Iraq in the West, and that these programs are “smart power used to secure our most vital national interests.”

Concerning ECA’s strategic directions, Stock remarked that the Bureau is increasingly engaged with younger populations, women and girls, and specifically named programs such as the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program and the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). She also stated that ECA is trying to enable American and international underserved youth to experience exchanges, and stressed that “America must remain the destination of choice for the best and the brightest.”

Closing her remarks to the group of public diplomacy alumni, the Assistant Secretary said:

“Today, we have a new mission: to pay it forward in two ways. First, we must ensure that these valuable exchanges continue and that they are of the highest quality. Second, we must always make sure the field has the support it needs. If we do both, the next generation can look back and thank us the way that I am thanking you now.”