Ambassador Bloch Discusses Exchange at the Alliance for International Exchange’s Annual Meeting

November 3, 2017

The international exchange community gathered in late October to discuss the current state of the field and ways to move forward in the coming year. The Alliance for International Exchange’s Annual Meeting featured an array of policy discussions, information and strategy trainings, and networking opportunities for its members across the exchange community. Key government agencies, including the US Department of State, were well represented.

One of the first plenary panels included Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch, US-China Education Trust President alongside Ambassador Brian Carlson, Ambassador Stuart Holliday, and Mark Taplin discussing the observations and lessons learned from a diplomatic perspective.

The conversation touched on several topics including the importance and value exchanges play in public diplomacy. Taplin noted that exchanges are an important tool in US diplomacy but he also suggested there’s more to it than simply promoting the foreign policy interests of the United States.

In fact, it was noted that the push and pull in exchange philosophy between promoting mutual understanding versus government policy continue unabated. Ambassador Bloch pointed out that only a fraction of the 1,000,000 students in US international exchange programs are funded by the government. Private sector exchanges largely focus on building mutual understanding to help create trust between countries.

The role of public-private partnerships was an important point as the panelists expressed the need for both private and public exchanges because they largely complement one in other.

Panelists and participants all pointed to the need for funding and support as a constant challenge for the exchange community. The panelists noted that in an administration that takes an “America First,” zero-sum view of international relations, finding and cultivating broader support for exchanges is particularly challenging. There was also discussion on ways to move forward in the current climate, especially as the Department of State sees major cuts to its funding. 

Finding ways to better connect with alumni was suggested as a means to build support. It was generally agreed that building robust alumni programs remains elusive due in large part to the lack of resources. It was pointed out however that there are organizations, including the Department of State, working on ways to better address this issue.

Overall, while questions and concerns were raised, there was agreement that international exchanges have and will continue to play an important role in public diplomacy and in society at large.  

 

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10月底,国际交流团体召开年会讨论国际交流的现状以及明年的发展计划。国际交流联盟(Alliance for International Exchange)年会包括政策讨论、情报和策略培训、以及为国际交流团体成员提供建立人际网络的机会等一系列主题。此年会有众多来自美国国务院等重要政府机构的参与者。

年会专题讨论之一由中美教育基金(US-China Education Trust,简称USCET)主席张之香大使、布莱恩·卡尔森(Brian Carlson)大使、斯图尔特·霍利戴(Stuart Holliday)大使以及马克·塔普林(Mark Taplin)组成小组,共同探讨了从外交角度观察和吸取到的教训。

讨论提及了包括公共外交中交流的重要性和价值等多个主题。塔普林指出国际交流是美国外交的重要工具,但同时他也表示交流的含义不仅仅是为了促进美国的外交政策利益。

实际上据观察,在促进彼此了解和国家政策二者之间交流时产生的推拉只增不减。张之香大使指出,美国的一百万名交流项目参与生中只有一小部分是由政府资助。私营企业的交流项目非常注重促进彼此了解并协助建立国家之间的信任关系。

小组成员表示,私营企业与国营企业的合作即是关键,二者很大程度上相辅相成,因此缺一不可。

小组成员与所有参与者都同意国际交流项目长期缺乏资金和支持。他们认为一个美国优先的政府是把国际关系看做了一场零和博弈,如此情况下要从中为国际交流寻找并获得更多的支持并建立关系非常困难。小组还讨论了在当今情况下,特别是在美国国务院即将面临大量资金削减的情况下要如何发展的问题。

与过去校友保持更好的联系被认为是获得支持的方法之一。然而大家都知道建立稳固的校友项目难以成功,这很大程度上因为缺乏资源。不过也有人指出包括国务院在内的组织正在寻找能够更好解决问题的途径。

总体来说,虽然有各种疑问和担忧,但是不论在过去还是未来,国际交流都将在公共外交和全体社会中扮演重要角色。