Department of State news

Addressing personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the importance of people-to-people connections and the powerful role exchanges play in creating long-lasting bonds between the U.S. and countries around the world.

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In an address to the 2013 Class of Fulbright-Clinton Fellows, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored the legacy of Senator William J. Fulbright and stressed the importance of people-to-people connections in international relations.

Clinton said:

Secretary of State John Kerry announced today that, effective immediately, the U.S. will treat the visa applications of same-sex spouses in the same manner as those of heterosexual married couples, the New York Times reports.

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In a Senate confirmation hearing this afternoon (July 30), Evan Ryan, President Obama’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), said that exchanges “capitalize on American strengths and appeals,” and that ECA is “the lifeblood of public diplomacy”.

Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ryan underlined the powerful role people-to-people exchanges play in advancing U.S. public diplomacy and foreign policy goals.

A recent YouTube video details the work of SWT Alumni Macedonia, the first ever Summer Work Travel Association of its kind worldwide.

The alumni association was initiated by the Department of State and its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), and is a non-profit organization formed and run by students.

The U.S. Department of State has announced the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program, an initiative designed “to help foster greater contacts between Americans and Russians.”

The program “will provide small grants to support meetings, virtual interactions, exchanges, and internships between American and Russian organizations,” according to the announcement posted on grants.gov.

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After a travel warning issued by the U.S. Department of State urged “U.S. citizens to defer travel to Egypt” and instructed “U.S. citizens living in Egypt to depart…because of the continuing political and social unrest,” many public and private programs, including university study abroad groups, have decided to evacuate their participants from Egypt. Below is a list of articles detailing the evacuation of international exchange participants:

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President Obama announced his intent to nominate Evan Ryan as the next Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State.

Current Assistant Secretary Ann Stock is expected to step down from her position later this summer. No details have yet been released on when a confirmation hearing for Ms. Ryan will take place.

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In a farewell note released last week, outgoing Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine emphasized her view that the importance of public diplomacy lies in its ability to “create a safer and more prosperous world for Americans at home and abroad by helping citizens abroad build better futures.”

In a video message recorded for the 4th annual EducationUSA Forum held in Washington, DC June 26-28, Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the importance of exchanges and the long term positive repercussions they have for the U.S. and its relationships with countries around the world.

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