Department of State news

In a Senate confirmation hearing this afternoon (July 30), Evan Ryan, President Obama’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), said that exchanges “capitalize on American strengths and appeals,” and that ECA is “the lifeblood of public diplomacy”.

Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ryan underlined the powerful role people-to-people exchanges play in advancing U.S. public diplomacy and foreign policy goals.

A recent YouTube video details the work of SWT Alumni Macedonia, the first ever Summer Work Travel Association of its kind worldwide.

The alumni association was initiated by the Department of State and its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), and is a non-profit organization formed and run by students.

The U.S. Department of State has announced the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program, an initiative designed “to help foster greater contacts between Americans and Russians.”

The program “will provide small grants to support meetings, virtual interactions, exchanges, and internships between American and Russian organizations,” according to the announcement posted on grants.gov.

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After a travel warning issued by the U.S. Department of State urged “U.S. citizens to defer travel to Egypt” and instructed “U.S. citizens living in Egypt to depart…because of the continuing political and social unrest,” many public and private programs, including university study abroad groups, have decided to evacuate their participants from Egypt. Below is a list of articles detailing the evacuation of international exchange participants:

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President Obama announced his intent to nominate Evan Ryan as the next Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State.

Current Assistant Secretary Ann Stock is expected to step down from her position later this summer. No details have yet been released on when a confirmation hearing for Ms. Ryan will take place.

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In a farewell note released last week, outgoing Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine emphasized her view that the importance of public diplomacy lies in its ability to “create a safer and more prosperous world for Americans at home and abroad by helping citizens abroad build better futures.”

In a video message recorded for the 4th annual EducationUSA Forum held in Washington, DC June 26-28, Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the importance of exchanges and the long term positive repercussions they have for the U.S. and its relationships with countries around the world.

The continued higher education dialogue between India and the U.S. has helped increase educational opportunities in India as well as people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, Secretary Kerry noted in his opening address at the 2013 Higher Education Dialogue in New Delhi earlier this week.

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The level of higher education exchanges between the U.S. and Latin America has been increasing, marking a “strategic priority for the United States,” a recent blog post on the Chronicle of Higher Education website writes, noting that these exchanges are “mutually beneficial” for all nations involved.

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“This exchange business is good for us and the rest of the world,” Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) today.

Department of State exchange programs, including the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, were featured prominently in Sonenshine’s remarks on “bottom line diplomacy” and why public diplomacy matters:

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