Exchanges in the media

The U.S. Department of State is celebrating 75 years of state-sponsored exchange programs this year. Launched today is a social media campaign using the hashtag #ExchangesAre and comprising an array of videos that will explore the historical impacts of such programs. The 75th anniversary of State Department exchanges coincides with today’s launch of a new, informative website and will also be accompanied by a series of events throughout 2015.

Several veteran members of Congress are urging their colleagues to travel abroad more, according to Roll Call. Frequent Congressional travelers make the case that international travel is vital for Members to do their jobs effectively, and that there is great value in legislators better understanding the international context in which they govern. As Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) explains:

Alumni of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program have launched a “Save CBYX” campaign, in response to the decision to cut funding for the program by 50% for the 2015-2016 program year, the Atlantic Review reports. Through the campaign, alumni are “asking all supporters to sign an online petition appealing to the State Department to reverse its decision.”

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The U.S. government has clarified its regulations for American citizens traveling to Cuba, allowing for a more complete understanding of the effect of the new policy on international exchange opportunities. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Department of Commerce published updated regulations on travel to Cuba, effective January 16, 2015, NAFSA reports.

In his 2015 State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama spoke at length about the role of diplomacy in U.S. foreign policy. He emphasized the role of international diplomacy in addressing global challenges and enhancing U.S. leadership abroad:

“I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building...That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.”

Recent changes in U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba ease travel restrictions for American students and faculty, and open the door for nonacademic exchange programs and travel to Cuba, Inside Higher Ed reports. President Obama announced his administration’s new Cuba policy in December 2014, re-establishing diplomatic relations with the nation.

The U.S. and Mexico reaffirmed their mutual commitment to increasing exchange opportunities for American and Mexican students this week.  Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s visit to Washington, DC marked a continuation in recent Mexico-U.S. collaboration efforts on education.

Potential funding cuts to exchange programs are threatening transatlantic relations, according to a recent The Hill blog post by Chris Kojm and Christina Tsafoulias, both former Robert Bosch Foundation Fellows to Germany.

Studying abroad is a vital experience for young Americans, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel recently wrote in a blog post, published by the State Department and the Huffington Post.

The Russian government is reassessing its Global Education program which provides funds for Russian students to pursue certain fields of postgraduate study at foreign universities “amid worsening relations with the West,” the Moscow Times recently reported.

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