3 Priorities for Cultural Exchange Advocacy in 2019
Dear Greenheart Partners, Participants, and Supporters:
As we round out the first month of the New Year, it seems an opportune time to share Greenheart’s vision and priorities for cultural exchange advocacy in 2019. But as George Santayana – a writer, scholar, and Spanish exchange visitor* to the United States – once said: “To know your future you must know your past.”
So, let’s review: 2018 was an important year for advocacy on behalf of cultural exchange, and especially the U.S. Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program, which houses the summer work and travel, intern/trainee, secondary student, and teacher exchange programs that are dear to our hearts.
We were pleased to find a strong supporter – and an exchange alumna – in the Honorable Marie Royce, who took the helm as Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), which oversees the Exchange Visitor Program. At the 2018 Greenheart Global Leadership Conference our current participants and alumni shared their stories about the impact of cultural exchange with Ms. Royce and other Department of State representatives.
On Capitol Hill, we saw sustained support from the House of Representatives and increased support from the Senate, which advised funding the ECA at higher levels than in years past. These are important wins in the face of efforts to cut the Exchange Visitor Program and a testament to the broader community of Americans who advocated for cultural exchange.
We are proud of the role that the Greenheart community played in informing our representatives and the broader public about the benefits of cultural exchange. Aside from presenting at the Department of State, other highlights include: meeting with representatives on Capitol Hill, volunteering alongside U.S. Congress-members and their staff, and spearheading social media campaigns to spread awareness.
In 2019, we’re excited to announce 3 new advocacy priorities:
1. Getting local to explain the benefits of global awareness and exchange. Because the Exchange Visitor Program is a federal program, it is easy – and it makes sense – to focus on Capitol Hill, the seat of the U.S. federal government. We will maintain this focus in 2019. However, we will also direct renewed attention to the local communities throughout America where cultural exchange really happens – and really matters.
2. Supporting hosts in advocating for the exchange programs they value. Among other things, we’re launching an advocacy toolkit, which will empower all Greenheart hosts and other community members to transform their personal experiences with cultural exchange into effective advocacy on behalf of cultural exchange. All Greenheart community members will be able to access this toolkit via the Greenheart Club. Look for it in February 2019!
3. Demonstrating how cultural exchange matters for effective action on the environment and for 21st century learning and professional development. Look for updates from our Teach-Pair-Share initiative, which recognizes the unique opportunities for collaboration that teacher exchange programs make possible. And keep an eye out for our monthly deep-dive into different environmental issues as we explore what standing with the environment means to us as individuals and to Greenheart as an organization.
As always, we invite you to join us. Together, we will increase understanding and opportunities to participate in cultural exchange. Together, we will demonstrate how cultural exchange fosters the global community we need to rise to the challenges of our times.
– Greenheart International
* In fact, the Exchange Visitor Program did not exist in Santayana’s time but, as a Spaniard who studied and taught in America before settling in Italy, we think he would approve our use of term.
“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.”
- Hafsat Abiola
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- Albert Einstein