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Policy Issues for Citizen Diplomacy

By:   •  July 3, 2013  •  Essay  •  497 Words (2 Pages)  •  941 Views

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A significant amount of U.S. citizen diplomacy takes place under government auspices. According to the Interagency Working Group on U.S. Government-Sponsored International Educational Exchanges and Training, no fewer than 65 federal agencies use exchange and training programs to accomplish their missions, moving tens of thousands of people to and from the United States annually.

Even more exchange activity happens privately. The majority of the more than 670,000 foreign students studying in the U.S. fund their educations with family resources or non-governmental scholarships. The same is true of most of the 262,000-plus American students who study abroad. A Wisconsin family that decides to host a Brazilian high school exchange student does so without reference to the U.S. government. The same applies to the Cape Cod restaurateur who hires Irish and Ukrainian students to meet her seasonal labor needs, and to a California family that opens its home to a Thai au pair, and to other American families who press local school boards to provide Chinese instruction.

All of these are private decisions, based on individual interests, needs, and aspirations. But these individual decisions, taken together, constitute a significant portion of America's engagement with the world. Even though such decisions are private, nearly all of them are affected by government policies. With or without federal funding, the government makes a difference.

For example, nothing is more basic to international mobility than visas. The U.S. government has detailed rules that prescribe who is eligible to enter the country, and for what purposes. Resources determine how many applicants can be seen at a given U.S. embassy. By definition, some individuals and types of activity are excluded.

In addition, government funding is critical not just for the opportunities it provides, but for the priorities it establishes. Over the past decade, the U.S. has made clear its new


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