Department of State news

Wang Yongli, deputy chief executive of the Office of Chinese Language Council International, said he was “taken by surprise and quite shocked” by the release last week of a State Department directive that would require all Chinese-language schoolteachers affiliated with campus-based Confucius Institutes and holding J-1 visas to leave the country within weeks, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

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The Senate State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee funded educational and cultural exchange programs at $625 million for FY 2013, $38 million above the President’s FY13 request and $26.2 million above the final FY 2012 appropriation for exchanges of $598.8 million.

While some of the statistics were grim (e.g., only 8 per cent of U.S. undergraduates study a foreign language, half of what it was in 1965), hope for the future was abundant as students, teachers, and international education leaders testified yesterday at a hearing titled “A National Security Crisis: Foreign Language Capabilities in the Federal Government.” That hopefulness seemed to culminate with the testimony of Shauna Kaplan, a 5th grader at Providence Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia, who confidently spoke to hearing chair Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) in Chinese and neatly offered a call to action by proclaiming, in her second language:

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Earlier this week, the Department of State announced a new exchange initiative that brings 34 women entrepreneurs from the Americas to the U.S. in order to develop business networks with their U.S. counterparts.

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The new Interim Final Rule (IFR) for the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, released by the Department of State on the ECA website last Friday, appears in today’s Federal Register (FR). The full FR notice can be accessed online here.

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Forty American students from 31 different universities will serve as “a ‘public face’ for the U.S. as it seeks to promote people-to-people exchanges with visitors” during the 2012 World Expo in Yeosu, Korea, which starts this Saturday and runs until August 12. The Korea Times reports that the American students will “greet visitors, government officials and other dignitaries as well as provide administrative, protocol and programming support.”

The House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee funded educational and cultural exchange programs at $586.957 million for FY 2013, exactly even with the President’s FY13 request and approximately 2 per cent below the final FY 2012 appropriation for exchanges of $598.8 million.

Last Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong “hailed the importance of people-to-people engagement during the third annual U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE),” according to a media note released by the Department of State.

The New York Times reported on the new Interim Final Rule (IFR) for the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, released this past Friday by the Department of State. The IFR (currently available on the ECA website) will be published in the Federal Register this week.

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At the Department of State’s Professional Fellows Congress yesterday, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Maria Otero highlighted the “life-changing” experiences people-to-people exchanges provide for young people, as well as the role such programs play in connecting people and sectors worldwide and encouraging innovation:

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