2020 has been a difficult year, as the COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges and upended plans and routines at every turn. Despite these challenges, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has been hard at work, continuing to deliver on its mission resiliently and creatively through an exclusively digital landscape. Highlighted below are some key initiatives and notable campaigns of this year.
Celebrating IEW 2020
International Education Week (IEW), taking place November 16-20, 2020, was an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This annual joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education was part of an effort to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.
International Education has been impacted by the COVID-19 global health pandemic, but @ECAatState remains committed to promoting programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences. #IEW2020 pic.twitter.com/aJJrOP5MzO
— Marie Royce (@ECA_AS) November 18, 2020
Read how we celebrated IEW 2020 here.
Learn about exchange opportunities for students, educators, and institutions here.
Launching “Access For All” Campaign
To mark the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s signing into law on July 26, ECA launched the yearlong “Access for All” campaign, aimed to highlight the efforts of the State Department in promoting opportunities and equality for all. The campaign also elevated the voices of State Department program alumni who are making a difference in their communities – both at home and abroad.
Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law thirty years ago, #ExchangeAlumni across the world have led the effort in championing the rights of those with disabilities. Find out how here ➡️ https://t.co/7DTHsfZG5Q @ECAatState @StateDept pic.twitter.com/vLApRIizxt
— Exchange Alumni (@exchangealumni) December 8, 2020
Read how we recognized the ADA’s 30th anniversary here.
ECA launched the Languages.State.Gov website and the #NewLanguageChallenge campaign encouraging Americans to learn a new language to help advance both their careers and U.S. foreign policy goals. The site brings together information on language programs offered by the Departments of State, Defense, and Education, as well as the National Security Agency, and offers an interactive quiz that Americans can take to find the U.S. government language program that fits their personal and professional goals.
.@StateDept offers a range of programs to help Americans learn foreign languages critical to national security and economic prosperity. I invite all Americans to take part in the #NewLanguageChallenge and build skills that can help your career and country. https://t.co/n8ZyQ8gFAm pic.twitter.com/qgtjkkPyxY
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 17, 2020
Read Secretary Pompeo’s Op-Ed in Newsweek on the importance of learning critical languages here.
ECA Assistant Secretary Traveled Abroad
Throughout the year, ECA Assistant Secretary Marie Royce traveled to foreign countries to maintain our exchange partnerships and expand our people-to-people connections. Her most recent trip was to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Morocco, and Kazakhstan. On this trip, the Assistant Secretary met with senior officials in each of the three governments to discuss bilateral cooperation on education and culture. In the UAE, she also conferred with officials about bilateral cooperation on educational exchange programs such as EducationUSA and the Fulbright Program.
While in Kazakhstan, I met with ethnic Kazakhs and Uyghurs who were formerly detained in the Chinese Communist Party’s Xinjiang internment camps, and whose family members remain detained or are missing. pic.twitter.com/pYaPmhActZ
— Marie Royce (@ECA_AS) December 2, 2020
Celebrating the IVLP’s 80th Anniversary
The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the State Department’s flagship professional exchange program, celebrated 80 years of impact. Started in the WWII era, the IVLP has grown to include over 225,000 alumni and continues to build vital linkages between citizens in the United States and emerging leaders around the world. To celebrate this milestone, ECA launched the #FacesOfExchange campaign to highlight 80 accomplished alumni, their lives, and the impact their exchange experiences brought to the global community.
— Department of State (@StateDept) December 9, 2020
Read more on how we concluded our yearlong celebration of the IVLP’s 80th anniversary here.
Read how we kicked off the #FacesOfExchange campaign here.
Read how our IVLP alumni have been working to combat the COVID-19 pandemic here.
Read how we have been carrying out one of the most beloved parts of IVLP exchanges, Home Hospitality, during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
Learn about some of our IVLP alumni that have been highlighted during our #FacesOfExchange campaign here.
Launching the CEE Program
The Community Engagement Exchange (CEE) Program is a recently launched, bold civil society initiative that equips emerging civil society leaders and influencers with the expertise, resources, and skills to support resilient communities around the world. This program offers young visionaries a three-month tailored practicum in the United States at a diverse range of host organizations. CEE also includes opportunities for Americans to connect and grow their networks and support local efforts through global collaboration.
We just launched a bold new civil society initiative: @CEEProgram. The #CEEProgram equips emerging civil society leaders with the expertise, resources, and skills to support resilient communities around the world. @IREXintl
LEARN more and APPLY at ?https://t.co/uhdV8cjQLJ
— Exchange Programs (@ECAatState) December 7, 2020
Releasing the 2020 Open Doors Report
The annual release of the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, a collaboration between ECA and the Institute of International Education, quantifies and explores key findings in international academic mobility to and from the United States. This year’s report found that, for the fifth consecutive year, over one million international students studied in the U.S. and a record number of Americans studied abroad prior to the pandemic.
— Exchange Programs (@ECAatState) November 18, 2020
Organizing the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership
Emerging women leaders from 11 countries participated in the 15th annual Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, a public-private partnership between the State Department, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, and Vital Voices Global Partnership. The 13 women were paired with executives from the Fortune Most Powerful Women community and spent a month meeting virtually with their mentors to enhance their business and leadership skills. This partnership leverages the expertise of American leaders in the public and private sectors to support and advance women’s economic empowerment.
Mentoring, 2020-style… ? ? See how the Fortune-@StateDept Global Women's Mentoring Partnership went virtual and connected women business leaders from around the globe with @FortuneMPW 500 executives across the U.S. #Fortune15 @VitalVoices https://t.co/5uva3Jw3cn
— Exchange Programs (@ECAatState) December 15, 2020
Throughout this year, ECA and its partners have continued their mission of creating mutual understanding between countries and fostering peaceful international relations. 2020’s challenges created unique opportunities for ECA to adapt and become an improved and more agile bureau.
About the Authors: Varvara Bazalev and Leslie Chan serve as virtual interns in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.