The Collective Public Policy Voice of the Exchange Community
As a young professional who recently finished my graduate degree in international affairs, my encounter with the international exchange field was a pleasant surprise. My studies made a career path in foreign policy feel like a scramble to climb Mount Everest to squint down 30,000 feet above the ground. My internship at Global Ties U.S. introduced me to citizen diplomacy and international exchanges, which focus on building people-to-people relationships to connect individuals across borders. This field built on handshakes and homestays has been incredibly warm and welcoming, and afforded me real professional growth opportunities.

I love international exchanges because they are a wonderful vehicle for making foreign policy accessible and relatable for local U.S. communities and engage a far broader audience than government alone. Exchanges matter because the authentic connections individuals form with visitors over Taco Tuesday and Fourth of July barbecues can have a far deeper impact than any book, documentary, or briefing alone, and foster lasting networks between people within the United States and across the world. Exchanges offer an invaluable opportunity to showcase the diverse tapestry of the United States and its values to the world.

At Global Ties U.S., I help support advocacy activities for the Global Ties Network as part of my portfolio. At first, I was intimidated and anxious because I knew just how important advocacy is for continued funding for government sponsored exchanges. Capitol Hill seemed like an unapproachable place snapped straight from a history textbook or a news segment off the television, somewhere far too storied for me to contribute meaningful ideas. After I attended the Alliance trainings and went to my first Advocacy Day on the Hill, I learned that advocacy is actually just like exchange and communications. Advocacy is a storytelling opportunity to form a connection during a meeting. It is just like what I do every day.

Angela Zheng

Angela Zheng

Program Associate, Strategic Communications & External Affairs

Angela was first exposed to international exchange as a Gilman Critical Language scholar in 2019. That interest blossomed she learned more about public and citizen diplomacy during her internship with Global Ties U.S. in 2022. She first learned about the Alliance as part of her advocacy onboarding training in 2022 and had her first in-person interaction at the Alliance Annual Conference. It was eye-opening to meet with representatives from such a wide spectrum of international exchange organizations.