academic exchange

Every now and then Congress shows wisdom as in the recent decision by the House and Senate to reject a request from the Obama administration to cut funding for the famous Fulbright program from $237 to $204 million. What's a Fulbright and why should you care?

It is time for China to explore the "recipe" for British cultural soft power, which generates many economic benefits. Cultural charm makes the United Kingdom an attractive option for foreign tourists, students and investors, and it oils the wheels of trade and business. A recent example involved wealthy Chinese businessmen who splashed out as much as 100,000 pounds ($163,160) on a hunting trip in Scotland. 

Foreign countries are sending tens of thousands of students to American universities every year, propping up school budgets and contributing billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. And no city sends students to American universities quite like Seoul. The South Korean capital funneled more than 56,000 students into U.S. bachelors, masters, and PhD programs between 2008 and 2012, according to a new study by The Brookings Institute. 

This Fall, Houston area high school student, Karen Ortega, will embark on a yearlong study abroad program in China with AFS. For ten months Karen, who has never traveled outside of the U.S., will live leave behind everything she knows to live with a Chinese host family, study in a Chinese high school and gain an intimate understanding of Chinese culture.

The Obama administration is pursuing a new approach to public diplomacy that stands to weaken US ties abroad, and delivers its most profound blow to the transatlantic relationship. In March, the administration proposed a 13% cut to the Fulbright fellowship program. Cuts to Fulbright come alongside the expansion of shorter programs that offer less substantive immersion for foreigners, neglect Americans, and shift the diplomatic lens away from Europe during a period that requires greater, not less, transatlantic cooperation. 

For all RAK’s efforts, the nation-branding exercise has not been an immediate success, critics say.  But FutureBrand has also placed the UAE as the number-one brand of the future. “To achieve its goal of being a model country in the future, the UAE is actively investing in its own commercial and tourism ecosystems,” according to the 2012-2013 FutureBrand report.

President Barack Obama said the U.S. is expanding an initiative to develop and train political and economic leaders in Africa.  Obama is expanding a U.S.-based program for young African leaders, and the U.S. Agency for International Development is providing $38 million to create leadership centers in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal.

This summer, 500 Africans studied business, leadership and public management on American campuses as part of a new State Department program.  The Obama administration has hailed the effort, which is part of the larger Young African Leaders Initiative, as a fresh take on public diplomacy.

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