Public Diplomacy

Funding cuts to the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), a bilateral exchange program supported jointly by the U.S. and Germany, are facing bipartisan criticism from members of Congress, as well as from the German government. In addition to opposition from CBYX program alumni, the cuts have “spawned an unusual coalition in Washington that is working hard to reverse the partial defunding of the program,” Deutsche Welle reports.

Exchanges are a strategic imperative to current national security goals, according to Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan. Assistant Secretary Ryan specifically referenced the importance of the State Department’s educational and cultural exchanges, English language learning, and cultural heritage preservation efforts as key to current anti-ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS) efforts. 

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Secretary of State John Kerry, throughout the past two days, testified before several congressional committees with regard to the President’s FY16 State Department budget request.

Dovetailing with the White House’s focus on the important role played by two-year institutions in American education, the Department of State and the Fulbright Program are seeking to involve community colleges more in exchanges, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Secretary of State John Kerry honored seven influential American artists one month ago for their contributions to U.S. cultural diplomacy, presenting them with the Art in Embassies (AIE) Medal of Arts Life Time Achievement award. In his opening speech at the awards ceremony, Kerry explored the weight art and multimedia have on cultural diplomatic pursuits:

An increasing number of high school graduates in the United Kingdom are interested and/or enrolling in universities outside of the U.K., according to The Independent. A survey of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) found that ninety per cent of its administrators had noticed increased student interest in universities outside the U.K. over the past three years.

In a podcast (in German) on the German government website, Chancellor Angela Merkel discusses current transatlantic issues, including her concern over funding cuts to the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program. Katherine Lindemann, a political science student from Maine who is currently studying at Humboldt University in Berlin, conducted the interview.

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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:

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.

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