Finding Common Ground to Connect: UGRAD Students Gather in Washington, DC

Students participating in the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program pose for a photograph in Washington, D.C., March 20, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Daniel A. Nicolas serves as a public diplomacy intern in theBureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs.

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

I often recall those words that Atticus Finch offered his daughter, Scout, in Harper Lee’s American classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. I am mindful of Atticus’s advice on occasions when I meet groups of foreign exchange students and hear them talk with each other about their experiences. Gaining a greater understanding about — and an appreciation for — others is one of the reasons why I believe exchange programs are so powerful.

I recently saw the impact of one such program at an event for participants in theGlobal Undergraduate Exchange (UGRAD) Program.… more »

Fulbright Alum Helps Islamabad Street Kids Find a Better Future

LettuceBee kids meet with Shelby Means of bluegrass band Della Mae in Islamabad, Pakistan, November 2012. [Photograph by Robert Raines, U.S. Embassy Islamabad/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Jennifer McAndrew serves at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Jawaid is a four-year-old trash picker. He wants to be a tree when he grows up.

At least, that’s what he tells his teacher during an art class sponsored by the LettuceBee Kids project in Islamabad, Pakistan.

“But you are not a tree,” the teacher tells him. “If you don’t like where you are, you can move.”

That’s the idea behind the LettuceBee initiative, which helps street kids like Jawaid move beyond a life of begging and trash picking, and re-integrate back into society through art, music, and mentorship.

The brainchild of Sarah Adeel, a Fulbright alumna and graduate of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the idea for LettuceBee Kids came about when she was in Pakistan in 2008 conducting research for her master’s thesis on child welfare in South Asia.

“I was doing a comparative analysis between orphanages and foster-care… more »

Community Solutions: Creating Global Solutions One Idea at a Time

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Adam Ereli listens to Smrita Khadka, a Community Solutions fellow from Nepal who educates young girls about human trafficking in her country, in Washington, D.C., December 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Ambassador J. Adam Ereli serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Solving the world’s biggest problems starts with one idea, by one individual, in one community. And those leaders must be equipped with new knowledge, resources, and networks in order for their ideas to thrive.

The State Department’s Community Solutions Program is in its second year and empowers community leaders with the tools and skills to change the world. For the past four months, 58 young professionals from 28 countries participated in a fellowship at U.S. community-based non-profits, government offices, or legislative bodies to see how American institutions address complex challenges. 

Community Solutions Fellows worked with American community leaders to enhance their practical expertise, leadership skills and professional contacts to address… more »

Happy World Teachers’ Day!

A teacher speaks to students at the school of La Ronce in Ville d'Avray, west of Paris, Oct. 5, 2012. [AP Photo]

About the Author: Ann Stock serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

To mobilize support for teachers worldwide and to ensure we can meet the educational needs of future generations, the State Department celebrates the 19th annual UNESCO World Teachers’ Day. Whether through an alphabet lesson or a taste of astrophysics, teachers are at the start of every journey. Educators in and out of the classroom are responsible for so much good in the world, and it’s only fitting that we honor their contributions.

This week, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs hosted a two-day symposium for teachers interested in integrating global content into their lesson plans. Participants included 68 American… more »

21st Century Statecraft Month: Digital Engagements January 30-31

The U.S. Department of State has designated January 2012 as 21st Century Statecraft month. Twenty-first Century Statecraft complements traditional foreign policy by harnessing and adapting the digital networks and technologies of today’s interconnected world. The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Missions abroad have developed a range of initiatives to showcase U.S. diplomatic leadership in leveraging digital networks and technologies in service of their foreign policy goals.

Throughout the month of January, U.S. officials in Washington, DC, and at U.S. Missions abroad are participating in digital engagements across multiple social media platforms on a wide array of issues to directly connect with the public on foreign policy issues that matter to them.

Next week’s engagements include the following events:

  • On Monday, January 30, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder will hold a Twitter Q&A at 12:00 p.m. EST. Submit questions to @USAmbNATO using the hashtag #AskIvo.
  • On Tuesday, January 31, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Daniel Baer will participate in a Live at State web chat with bloggers and journalists from around the world at 9:30 a.m. EST. Video of the web chat will be available on
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock will participate in a Twitter Q&A at 09:30 a.m. EST on Tuesday, January 31. Assistant Secretary Stock will discuss the role of technology and social media in English language programs, exchanges, and cultural diplomacy initiatives. Submit your questions to @ConnectStateGov and @AnnatState using the hashtag #AskAnn.
  • On Tuesday, January 31, U.S. Ambassador to France Charles H. Rivkin will answer questions on foreign policy and U.S.-French relations on Facebook. You can submit your questions on the embassy’sFacebook page in English or French until Monday evening.
  • The U.S. Mission to NATO and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs are launching their Twitter accounts. Follow @USNATO and @State_IO for updates on multilateral issues and transatlantic relations as the U.S. gets ready to host the NATO Summit this May in Chicago.

Stay tuned to, the DipNote blog@StateDept on Twitter and the U.S. Department of State’s official Facebook page, as additional engagement opportunities will continue on our social media platforms throughout 2012.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Brazilian youths participating in the Youth Ambassadors Program at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. January 25, 2012.

Year in Review: Educational and Cultural Affairs

About the Author: Ann Stock is the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) had a busy and exciting 2011, marked by a bevy of accomplishments, quick responses to foreign policy challenges, and a swath of new people-to-people exchange programs that help advance American standing and interests around the world.

Many of our most exciting programs responded to the needs and opportunities generated by changes in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Throughout these regions, ECA bolstered English teaching and the Fulbright Program. We also added new International Visitor Leadership Programs to give rising leaders in countries like Tunisia and Libya a look at American entrepreneurship and democratic, transparent governance.

Our cultural and historical preservation work also helped raise the U.S. profile abroad. For instance we restored the historical citadel of Herat, our… more »

DipNote: The Week in Review

Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at UNESCO event in Paris, France, May 26, 2011. [State Dept.]

About the Author: Luke Forgerson serves as DipNote’s Managing Editor.

Last week, President Barack Obama embarked on a six-day trip to Europe, where he visited Ireland, the United KingdomFrance and Poland to engage our allies in the region and participate in the G-8 Summit. In remarks to the British Parliament, President… more »

Entrepreneurship: Empowering Women and Girls Through International Exchanges

IVLPs visit Little Foot Farm and Greenhouse to discuss food production, Minnesota, May 10, 2011.

About the Author: Ann Stock serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of International Visitors, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is conducting a three-week Multi-Regional Project (MRP) entitled “Women and Entrepreneurship” for a dynamic group of 19 women entrepreneurs and small business owners from around the world. Administered by Phelps Stokes, the group is exploring the contributions of women to the development of the U.S. economy and ways the participation of women in the global economy.

After a week in Washington, DC where the group met with federal government agencies as well as private businesses and women’s business organizations, the group divided into three teams to visit either Minneapolis, Minnesota; Albany, New York; or Cincinnati, Ohio. Each team explored global business partnerships… more »