Advancing Educational and Cultural Exchanges in the Western Hemisphere

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine speaks with students enrolled in an English immersion school at a Binational Center in the Dominican Republic, November 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Tara Sonenshine serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

On my visit to the Dominican Republic this week, I had the opportunity to meet with more than a dozen future Dominican leaders — all high school students, who were enrolled in an English immersion school in Santo Domingo. They spoke with depth and conviction about pressing matters in their country. Every one spoke of his or her desire to use their growing skills in English to study in U.S. universities.

That same day, I met with American college students who are taking college courses in the Dominican Republic. I asked why they’d chosen to study abroad and they shared what they’d learned, reflecting an impressive perspective and awareness about the region — and the world at large. They, too, recognized that, by becoming bilingual, they would open doors for better futures.

Even as I had these encouraging conversations, an annual report on academic exchange… more »

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