Public Diplomacy

The U.S. will re-open its embassy in Cuba this month, continuing the expansion of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the New York Times reports. President Obama announced the plans on Wednesday, adding that Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Havana “to proudly raise the American flag over our embassy once more.”

On several occasions during the sixth U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) in Washington this week, the U.S. and Chinese governments underlined the importance of, and their continued commitment to, people-to-people exchanges between their two countries.

Secretary of State John Kerry, during the joint opening session on Tuesday, stressed the benefits of “fully reciprocal and unfettered” contacts between the citizens of the U.S. and China:

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter noted the importance of educational and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Germany in his remarks at a forum in Berlin on Monday. In particular, Secretary Carter spoke to the value of exchanges in preparing young citizens for success in a global economy:

Despite regular interactions, local businesses have only “moderately favorable” opinions of international students in their college towns, according to a recent article in Inside Higher Ed.

President Obama noted the “extraordinary” leadership skills of exchange participants during a question and answer session with 75 fellows from the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) in Washington, DC this week.

Commenting on the bright futures of the fellows, who represent all ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, Obama remarked:

For the first time in 15 years, an increasing number of people worldwide are learning German as a foreign language, the ICEF Monitor reports. According to the results of the 2015 “Deutsch als Fremdsprache weltweit” (German as a foreign language worldwide) survey, conducted every five years, 15.4 million individuals across the globe are currently studying German.

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As a direct result of her experience as a participant in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, a young Afghan woman has dedicated herself to educating and empowering women in her home country, Public Radio International reports.

The Japanese government will invest $15 million to support Japanese studies at nine U.S. universities, reports University World News, noting that the funding decision was reaffirmed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent week-long official visit to the U.S.

At the Summit of the Americas last week, Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the importance of educational exchanges in economic development:

“… [E]ducation more so than ever before, is the ladder of opportunity for people all across the planet… It is why President Obama launched 100,000 Strong in the Americas.”

Dr. Dan Davidson, president of the American Councils for International Education, testified last week in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, discussing the merits of people-to-people exchanges and their ability to foster “positive social and economic changes.” He urged the subcommittee to increase support for exchanges in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, recent areas of conflict.

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