Public Diplomacy

Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs received $598.8 million for FY 2012 in the “megabus” spending package passed by Congress on Friday and Saturday. This funding level is exactly even with the final FY 2011 appropriation for exchanges, and falls $38.9 million below the President’s FY12 request.

Tara Sonenshine, nominee for the role of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, stressed the value of people-to-people exchanges in U.S. public diplomacy during her confirmation hearing yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sonenshine said:

The U.S. Department of State announced this week the online opening of the Virtual U.S. Embassy Tehran as “an opportunity for engagement between the peoples of Iran and the United States.”

The House of Representatives recently cleared, and the President signed into law, S. 1487, a business travel bill that “would provide a seven-year authorization for the secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the secretary of State, to establish a program to issue Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards,” reported.

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The Alliance recently released a video, “Highlights of a Cultural Exchange,” which details the positive experiences local American communities and international students have through the State Department’s Summer Work Travel (SWT) cultural exchange program. The full video is embedded below, and be sure to visit the Alliance's YouTube channel.


The Department of State published a notice in today’s Federal Register of a proposed information collection for the Form DS-7007, a new Summer Work Travel Job Placement Verification Form. The full notice is pasted below.

The Department of State published a notice in today’s Federal Register capping current participant levels, and placing a moratorium on new applications, for the Summer Work Travel category of the Exchange Visitor Program. The full notice is pasted below.

President Obama announced today his intent to nominate Tara D. Sonenshine for Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Department of State. Assistant Secretary of State (R) Ann Stock has been in the role of Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs since July 8, 2011.

Sonenshine’s biography as posted on the White House website is as follows:

The following opinion piece on the importance and impact of international exchange programs, by William B. Lacy, Vice Provost of University Outreach and International Programs at the University of California, Davis, was recently posted on the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) website:

For more than 50 years, the U.S. Department of State has administered educational and cultural exchange programs as a means of building goodwill toward America throughout the world. “The Power of Exchange” series brings attention to hot topics in the international exchange world that highlight the important role that exchanges play in connecting America and Americans to the world.

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