United States Cultural Exchange Programs

After WWII, U.S.A. was regarded as a military and economic superpower of the world. The influence of the U.S.A. in the world grew rapidly and its leaders realized very soon that it is essential to make people around the world to understand the cultural and social values of the U.S.A.
Cultural exchange programs started from a simply observation: when a person goes to another country the mutual understanding between him and the people of that country is enhanced. So, these programs seek to develop cultural understanding between U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries, and can be regarded as a form of cultural diplomacy.

History

One of the earliest cultural exchanges considered part of U.S. Public Diplomacy occurred in 1940, when journalists from Latin America were encouraged to visit the U.S. [1]

Leading musicians from the region were subsequently invited during the decade to different broadcasting studios in New York City. [2]

In 1946, the legislation for what would become the Fulbright Program was introduced. [3]

In 1959, the exchange programs aspect of the State Department was separated from the Public Affairs Bureau to form the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Relations. [4]

In 1961, Congress passed the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act. [5]

In 1993, the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange (The Alliance) was created following the merger of the International Exchange Association and the Liaison Group for International Educational Exchange. The Alliance’s activities include formulating specific recommendations to support public policy regarding educational and cultural exchanges. [6]

Examples of programs that operates in Romania

The Fulbright Awards Program offers exchange opportunities to Romanian citizens (scholars, students and professionals) for study, research and teaching in the United States. These grants are supported by the U.S. and Romanian Governments and awarded through open merit-based competitions supervised by bi-national panels. [7]

The Benjamin Franklin Summer Institutes are intensive academic institutes hosted by a U.S. college or university. These programs are academic in nature, and focus on global issues, in addition to leadership and community service. During the exchanges, students and educators participate in workshops, community service activities, team building exercises, meetings with community leaders, leadership development, and focus on a specific theme, such as conflict resolution, social entrepreneurship, or environmental stewardship. [8]

The Professional Fellows Program (PFP) is a two-way, global exchange program designed to promote mutual understanding, enhance leadership and professional skills, as well as build lasting, sustainable partnerships between mid-level emerging leaders from foreign countries and the United States. [9]

The Community Solutions Program (CSP) is a professional development program for the best and brightest global community leaders working on issues related to the environment, tolerance and conflict resolution, transparency and accountability, and women and gender. Community Solutions is a year-long program that includes a four-month fellowship at a U.S. community-based organization, government office or legislative body. [10]

The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program provides scholarships for high school students from Europe and Eurasia to spend an academic year in the United States, living with a family and attending an American high school. [11]

The Fortune – U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership connects talented, emerging women leaders from all over the world with members of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Leaders for a four-week-long program. [12]

The International Writing Program (IWP) is the oldest and largest multicultural writing residency in the world. The Fall Residency brings outstanding authors from every continent to the University of Iowa. The goal of the Fall Residency is to provide authors with the setting for cultural exchange and also with the time and space to write, read, translate, study, and to become part of the vibrant literary and academic community at the University of Iowa. [13]

Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) for Scholars and Secondary Educators are post-graduate level academic programs for mid-career foreign scholars, faculty, practitioners, and secondary educators whose purpose is to strengthen curricula and to improve the teaching about the United States in academic institutions abroad. [14]

Sports Visitors are young non-elite athletes and coaches chosen by U.S. missions overseas to visit the United States for a fast-paced two-week exchange program. These sports-themed programs offer participants the opportunity to interact with Americans and experience American society, culture, and values firsthand. The activities include sessions on nutrition, strength and conditioning, gender equity in sport, Title IX, sport and disability, and team building. Special emphasis is placed on the visitors’ development of personal action plans that they use upon their return home. [15]

Participate has empowered educators to transform learning since 1987. Participate is more than a job opportunity. It provides personal growth and development. You’ll also be a cultural ambassador. Share your traditions with your new community. Help plan events to celebrate your favorite holidays. Serve as a role model and mentor. Inspire a love of the wider world in US students. [16]

Pro

You will learn from experienced staff and you will build professional relationships.
Many positions offer a good salary and you will have the options to save or invest the earned money.
Make new friends it’s always a positive matter.
Living in the United States you’ll get to integrate into the local culture and to share your own culture.
The visiting opportunities in the U.S. are multiple.
You’ll get a sense of accomplishment when you complete an experience abroad.

Cons

The linguistic barrier will be the first test. One is the language spoken by educated people in an academic environment and another thing is the language spoken by common people daily.
The cultural differences amongs peoples from different countries is striking. Each person has its personal values and time to time these can be in total contradictions with others’.
At arrival in a foreign country, you will have no friends.
Many problems will appear during the initial adjustment and accommodation process.
Unexpected legal and financial problems will popup.

Conclusions

As a participant in a cultural exchange program I strongly recommend it.
Verify the eligibility conditions before applying.
Be aware of the fact that sometimes the process of being accepted in such a program is long and frustrating. Many interviews and tests will come unexpectedly to check your spontaneity, adaptability and flexibility in various conditions.
It’s imperious to have a bank account with some funds for unexpected expenses.
Do some prospects regarding the program, job and area where you’ll live.
Learn few basic things regarding the history of the country.

References
1. Djerejian, Edward P. (2007). Changing Minds, Winning Peace. West Bethesda, MD: Crossbow Press. pp. 46–49. ISBN 978-0-615-15742-9.
2. Anthony, Edwin D. Records of the Office of Inter-American Affairs. National Archives and Record Services – General Services Administration Washington D.C., 1937 p. 1-8 & p. 25-26 Library of Congress Catalog No. 73-600146 Records of the Office of Inter-American Affairs – Radio Division at the U.S. National Archive on www.archives.gov p. 1-8 & p. 25-26
3. “People to People International Beginnings”. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
4. “History of the ECA”. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
5. “Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961”. United States Congress. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
6. “The Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange”. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
7. The Fulbright Awards Program on www.fulbright.ro/
8. The Benjamin Franklin Summer Institutes on exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/benjamin-franklin-summer-institutes
9. The Professional Fellows Program on exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/professional-fellows-program
10. The Community Solutions Program on exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/community-solutions
11. The Future Leaders Exchange on exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/future-leaders-exchange
12. The Fortune – U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership on exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/fortune-us-department-state-global-womens-mentoring-partnership
13. The International Writing Program on iwp.uiowa.edu/residency/this-years-program
14. Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars and Secondary Educators on exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/study-us-institutes-scholars
15. Sports Visitors on exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/sports-visitor-program
16. Participate on www.participatelearning.com/

 

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