IENA owners and staff attended the Alliance for International Exchange’s 25th anniversary conference in Washington, DC last month. The Alliance “serves as the only collective public policy voice of the exchange community.” This year, the conference welcomed non-members for the first time.
Many representatives from the Department of State’s (DOS) Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) attended. ECA oversees exchange visitor programs so it was great to hear insights from ECA staff and lean more about their overall objectives for the programs.
Speakers included Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, who emphasized the impact of exchange programs she’s witnessed in her travels in the US and overseas.
She reminded conference attendees of the mission statement of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, which was enacted to:
“enable the Government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange; to strengthen the ties which unite us with other nations by demonstrating the educational and cultural interests, developments, and achievements of the people of the United States and other nations, and the contributions being made toward a peaceful and more fruitful life for people throughout the world; to promote international cooperation for educational and cultural advancement; and thus to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world”
All sponsors, partners, and participants are expected to abide by DOS regulations, which originated with the Fulbright-Hays Act.
Secretary Royce outlined ECA’s five goals and emphasized the importance of aligning exchange programs with these efforts:
- Advance American foreign policy objectives through flexible, responsive exchange programs
- Increase Americans’ global competitiveness
- Counter disinformation and radicalization
- Bolster democratic principles, strengthen the rule of law, encourage strong civil society institutions
- Achieve greater efficiency: evaluate programs, expand use of virtual tools, leverage alumni relationships
ECA is especially interested in hearing about the value of cultural exchange on Americans.
Are you an employer whose business has benefitted from exchange visitor placements or have you had a rewarding personal experience hosting participants? IENA would love to hear your story.
To learn more about the Alliance and how you can contribute to its advocacy efforts, visit https://www.alliance-exchange.org