McHale: “Exchange 2.0" complement to, not replacement of, people-to-people exchanges

In her remarks at the Exchange 2.0 Summit on Tuesday, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale spoke about the “peace-building power of intercultural understanding” and stressed the need for integrating connective technologies into the U.S.’ exchange efforts.

International exchanges are vital to U.S. foreign policy and a major element of the Department of State’s public diplomacy framework, the Under Secretary explained, noting that exchanges should be complemented with, not replaced by, connective technologies, such as online classrooms. Connective technologies are vital in ensuring a timely and broad outreach to and engagement with a more diverse audience all over the world via Internet and cell phones. Furthermore, “exchanges using social media technology cost relatively little to implement but can return large benefits.”

Concerning the necessity of strengthening and expanding both people-to-people exchanges and connective technologies as complements to each other, the Under Secretary said that while “face-to-face interactions are the bread and butter of our public diplomacy exchanges…connective technologies allow us to butter our bread on both sides.” In addition,

“When we promote exchanges that build skills and empower youth to be a positive force for change in their communities, we help throw open the doors of opportunity around the world. When we foster networks that connect people in one country with their colleagues around the globe, we build bridges and mine resources that help people reach their full potential. When we advocate and educate young people to be leaders in their own countries – not because it is good for the United States, but because it is right for the world – we bring the true American spirit to life for people everywhere.”

Allan Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education (IIE), who was among the Summit’s speakers, also stressed the importance of making use of technology to strengthen and complement people-to-people exchanges:

“Technology has a great potential to further broaden and deepen exchange experience, by offering innovative ways to connect students before, during and after their exchange experiences, and to help forge lasting connections between the students and their host communities. There is no question young people – from very early ages – are already using technology to connect with one another. The question before us is how to harness that power productively to further the mission of educational and cultural exchange. We need to be sure that Exchange 2.0 programming and use of technology can serve as a complement to people-to-people exchange programs.”