Yesterday, I had the opportunity to welcome over 200 young professionals from 31 countries and territories, including Algeria, Nepal, Turkey, and Ukraine. These community leaders have been in the United States for the past month taking part in the U.S. Department of State-sponsored Professional Fellows Program. The participants, who were placed in 30 states around the country, come from a variety of professional backgrounds including local government, education, civil society, and journalism. This program is a key part of the Department's engagement of civil society worldwide on foreign policy priorities like food security and global health. For example, 15 of the Legislative Fellows were either in U.S. Congressional members' Capitol Hill offices, or in their district offices. The Climate Change Fellows were placed in city managers' offices to work with local officials on climate change issues.
When I met the group, I was first introduced to five of the participants who had been specially selected to make presentations to the entire delegation, State Department officials, and other invited guests.
The Fellows are in Washington, D.C., for a two-day closing Congress following the completion of their four-to-six week fellowships with private, non-profit, and government organizations. Through these types of exchange for professionals, we hope to build a sustainable network of individuals and organizations. The second component of the Professional Fellows Program will send Americans overseas to spend time in the offices and communities of the foreign fellows who are now in the United States.
International exchanges are an opportunity to bring people together for greater understanding and collaborate on solutions to the challenges that face us all. Using international exchanges as a means to promote friendly and peaceful relations between our country and our global partners not only enhances our efforts, but impacts people's lives in a long-lasting way.
Get the latest on international exchanges via Twitter @AnnatState.