A recent BBC article highlights the strong impact people-to-people exchange programs have on international diplomacy and shaping the U.S.’ image abroad.
The article features the example of Xi Jingping, probable future Chinese president, who came to Iowa in the 1980s on a trip that installed fond and long-lasting memories in him. These memories “could yet pay dividends to the U.S.”, the BBC notes.
Robin Lerner, formerly Counsel for the majority staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been appointed as Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Private Sector Exchange at the Department of State. In her new role, Ms. Lerner will oversee the Exchange Visitor Program. She succeeds Acting DAS Rick Ruth, who returns to his role as Senior Adviser in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Former Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens has been designated as “the Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs pending the Senate’s confirmation of the President’s nominee, Tara Sonenshine,” MountainRunner reports. Ambassador Stephens began her work in this role today. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock had previously been in the role of Acting Under Secretary since July 8, 2011.
President Obama reiterated the importance of U.S. engagement with the world and the international affairs budget on Monday during a Google+ “Hangout” and broadcast live on Youtube, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition reported.
The New York Times reports that the Department of State has removed the Council for Educational Travel, USA (CETUSA) as a designated sponsor of the Summer Work Travel program. The article also provides some detail on the Department’s upcoming rulemaking for the SWT program:
Lynne Weil has been named Director of Communications and External Affairs of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), according to a BBG press release. Ms. Weil will act as the Board’s primary strategist on communications and outreach activities, and as the Board’s chief advisor for Congressional and external affairs.
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,” CQ.com reported.