Department of State news
Speaking at the U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the importance of exchange programs in the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship and stressed that “we have to continue to invest in [exchanges].” Secretary Clinton spoke at length about the variety of exchanges that have occurred between the U.S. and Japan for decades, including high school exchange, Fulbright and other academic exchanges, professional exchange through the International Visitor Leadership Program, and sports exchange.
The Department of State released in today’s Federal Register notice of its intention to begin on-site compliance reviews for Summer Work Travel (SWT) program sponsors. The Department has identified 14 SWT sponsors (which, it notes, together sponsor approximately 65 per cent of SWT students) that will be part of an upcoming compliance review, to take place between October and December 2011. The Federal Register notice further states that:
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved yesterday the FY 2012 Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Bill. Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs received $612 million in this bill, $13.2 million above the FY 11 level and $25.1 million below the FY 12 President's request.
Speaking at a meeting of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy yesterday, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) Adam Ereli highlighted the impact ECA programs have on American citizens, as well as the Bureau’s ongoing work to ensure its programs are strategic and its appropriated funds well spent. The question of how exchange programs serve American interests at home and abroad, he said, is always at the forefront of ECA’s mind.
For the many Summer Work Travel (SWT) students at the Jersey Shore, working in seasonal jobs for employers like Morey’s Piers, their experience in the United States is not just a cultural exchange that allows them to meet Americans and see the real America; it is also an important opportunity to grow as a person.
The Department of State has “dispatch[ed] two senior officials to assess the situation” in Palmyra and Hershey, PA, where J-1 Summer Work Travel students are protesting their employer and working conditions, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reports.
Foreign language and culture training is “essential to our ability not only to protect our security, but frankly to be a nation that is well educated,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said yesterday during a wide-ranging conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the National Defense University.
The Alliance issued the following statement in response to Sen. Mark Udall's (D-CO) recent letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, requesting a review of the Department of State's Exchange Visitor Program:
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Adam Ereli posted on the Department’s DipNote blog on Tuesday, encouraging Americans to host high school exchange students. Ereli writes that the high school program “hinges on the goodwill and generosity of the volunteer host families. They represent America's diversity and cultural richness to these students and, by extension, to the world.”
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton posted on his website yesterday, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) noted that he is “concerned that the [Exchange Visitor] program lacks sufficient oversight of program sponsors and enforcement of the protections against abuse.” Udall asked Clinton to “provide an outline of the steps that the [State] Department has taken to ensure proper oversight and enforcement to protect against possible misuse of the visa program as it pertains to the protection of U.S. workers.”
Udall also wrote that his intention with this request is to work with the State Department “to maintain the true intent of the Exchange Visitor Program as an educational and cultural exchange that can serve as an important diplomatic tool while also protecting the interests of American workers.”