Public Diplomacy

By a vote of 94 to 3, the Senate overwhelming approved Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) yesterday afternoon as the United States’ next Secretary of State, The Washington Post reports. Kerry abstained from voting but watched the proceedings from the front of the Senate chamber. Three Republicans voted against Kerry: Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, and Sen.

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A young U.S. diplomat is hoping to build bridges between the U.S. and Pakistan and promote education for girls through singing songs in the local language, Pashto, AFP Islamabad recently reported.

Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) will be the new chair of the House Judiciary Committee in the next Congress, according to CQ.com.

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Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) will be the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the next Congress, according to CQ.com.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reiterated in recent weeks that she will not stay on at the State Department during President Obama’s second term. For some, this announcement has “unleashed…waves of speculation about her plans,” as detailed in this recent Washington Post profile about the possible paths she will take in the future. Current theories include a period of “hibernation” before a 2016 Presidential bid; the creation of her own women’s rights initiative; or (perhaps unlikely but still possible) retirement.

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The Department of Education recently released its “first-ever, fully articulated international strategy” designed to advance two strategic goals: strengthening U.S. education and advancing the U.S.’ international priorities. The strategy, which focuses on the next four years, recognizes that it is no longer enough to teach American students only reading, writing, mathematics, and science skills; rather, students must also have “the skills and disposition to engage globally,” as well as “the ability to think critically and creatively to solve complex problems.”

The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) on Wednesday launched its TechWomen2012 initiative, which will bring 42 women from eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa to the U.S. for a period of five weeks. While in the U.S., the women—who all work in the technology sectors in their home countries that include Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen—will be engaged in a mentoring program with their U.S. counterparts.

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine expressed her wish to see more American students studying and interning in India, in a recent interview with Forbes India. The Department of State is planning to increase the number of U.S. students in India (currently 3,300) to 15,000 in five years through its Passport to India initiative.

Talking about how to achieve this ambitious goal, Sonenshine said:

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report yesterday critical of the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP), saying that the program lacks processes to identify risk and prevent fraud, and does not have proper controls to verify the legitimacy of schools that accept international students. SEVP is responsible for certifying schools to accept international students in academic and vocational programs, as well as managing the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which assists the Department of Homeland Security in tracking and monitoring certified schools and international students.

In a video message recorded on the occasion of the third EducationUSA Forum, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once more underlined the importance of bringing international students to the United States for study and the critical work of the EducationUSA Advising Centers in more than 170 across the globe.

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