Exchanges Matter

For more than 75 years, professional, academic, and cultural exchange programs have been a proven and cost-effective public diplomacy tool that has strengthened relationships and ties between Americans and the world.

By enabling students, teachers, researchers, scholars, and skilled professionals to experience the United States firsthand–and by allowing Americans to experience life through the lens of other countries in the same way–international exchange programs allow us to:

#ExchangesMatter because they: strengthen our communities, increase global understanding, and make our world safer

  • Build durable connections between Americans and the international community based on mutual understanding and respect
  • Provide high potential young leaders with opportunities to learn a foreign language, and develop the skills, expertise, and cultural awareness demanded in today’s economy
  • Promote shared values and sustained dialogue to maintain peace and security

For these vital programs and others to continue to flourish and retain bipartisan support, congressional officials need to hear directly from you about the local and wide-ranging impact of exchanges in their home states and districts.

Act Now to Support J-1 Exchange Programs

Multiple news sources, including the Wall Street Journal, are reporting that the Trump administration is considering a plan to significantly reduce or eliminate a majority of privately-funded J-1 Exchange Visitor Programs, including J-1 Intern and Trainee programs, as part of the Buy American, Hire American (BAHA) Executive Order.

We believe this effort is both misguided and short-sighted. [Read our full statement]

Elimination of these programs would have a negative impact on local communities, U.S. businesses, and families nationwide, while dramatically weakening our diplomacy efforts. Unfortunately, despite widespread support for these programs, they remain at risk.

That’s why we need your help.

What Can I Do?

Tell Your Reps Why #ExchangesMatter to You

Direct and personal outreach to elected officials is a vital part of successful advocacy. To maintain these important programs, it is essential that your representatives (find them here) are aware of the personal impact exchange programs have made in your life, your community, and your organization.

Call your members of the House and Senate and ask them to support educational and cultural exchanges by demanding that J-1 intern and trainee programs are not included as part of the BAHA implemention. Emails and social media are effective, too.

Here are additional fact sheets and resources to support your efforts.

 

Find a town hall or forum being held by a congressperson near you.

Members of Congress are primarily concerned with residents from his or her district or state. For our international alumni and supporters, we encourage you to contact the U.S. ambassador in your country, as well as your country’s ambassador in Washington, to share the impact of your exchange experiences. The friends, hosts, and connections you made while in the U.S. can also be important means in which you can actively engage in these efforts.

 

Stay Informed + Take Action

Here, you can view our latest updates, statements, as well as active action alerts and issues where we need your voice to help amplify our message in support of exchange programs.

 

Action Alerts (updated 9/22/17)

Here’s how you can make a difference and protect these valuable exchange programs:

Tell Secretary Tillerson Why #ExchangesMatter
Every letter counts. Please join the exchange community’s effort to further educate Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the immense value J-1 intern and trainee programs provide to American businesses, communities, and our nation’s public diplomacy.

Write your U.S. Senators and Representatives
Call the Administration and voice your opposition to these cuts:

  • White House Comment Line (202) 456-1111
  • White House, Office of Public Liaison (202) 456-6493
  • State Department Operations Center (202) 647-1512

In addition to joining our mailing list, you can sign up to receive advocacy action alerts and status updates from the Alliance for International Exchange.

 

Updates + Information

Statement on Threats to J-1 Exchange Programs (August 29)

Act now to protect J-1 Exchanges from restrictions or potential elimination due to President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order.

White House Interagency Group Seeking to Eliminate J-1 Exchange Programs (August 29)

House Appropriations Committee Approves funding for ECA Programs at $590.9 million, Equal to FY 2016 Level (July 19)

Budget Jeopardizes our Nation’s Public Diplomacy Efforts (May 23)

Fate of Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs Rests with Congress Administration’s 2018 Budget Jeopardizes our Nation’s Public Diplomacy Efforts

Increase for Exchanges in FY17 Omnibus Bill (May 5)

Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill for FY17 that the President has signed into law to fund the government through September 30. It includes an increase of 7 percent for ECA programs. The new level of $634.1 million (from $590.9 million in FY16) is just short of the high-water mark of $635 million in FY10. This is extremely significant – especially in light of the administration’s request for a 24 percent cut. The report language is available here.

Dear Colleague Letters to Support Exchange (April 7)

Our community supported a letter-writing campaign in April, coordinated by the Alliance for International Exchange, to request that members of the House and Senate add their names to ‘Dear Colleague’ letters addressed to leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations subcommittees, endorsing continued spending for all State Department exchanges. Our meetings on the Hill and outreach helped to grow the bipartisan list to 120 Representatives and 29 Senators!
Senator Cory Booker (NJ) Dear Colleague Letter in Senate (April 7)
Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) Dear Colleague Letter in House of Representatives (March 29)

Response to Executive Order on Immigration Policy

While this situation is fluid and many specifics remain uncertain, we are certain about our commitment to each of you. Cultural Vistas strives to embrace the benefits of diversity, inclusion, and respect for differing beliefs, and we work every day towards a world which is truly global and pluralistic in outlook.
Response to Executive Order on Immigration Policy


Spread the Word

As the world grows more rapidly, the complexity of the global challenges it faces increase every day. Effective solutions will require a greater diversity of skills, perspectives, resources, and relationships – all of which are made possible through exchange programs.

Share your impact story on our blog
Why are exchange programs important to you? Have you gained fluency in a foreign language or maybe found a mentor that has made all the difference as a result of your experience? We want to hear from you.

Connect with us, and others on social media.
You can start by following @CulturalVistas, @ECAatState, and @AllianceExchnge on Twitter. It’s an easy way to show your support, stay informed, and see the impact of exchanges.

Tell your networks why #ExchangesMatter.

Show your support for exchanges, share these social media graphics:

#ExchangesMatter Sign 3 #ExchangesMatter Sign 1 #ExchangesMatter Sign 3


Resources

It is vital that we keep Congress educated on the invaluable benefits of educational and cultural exchange programs.

Fact Sheet: J-1 Visa Exchange Programs
Figures: 2016 Top Intern + Trainee Sending Countries
Figures: 2016 Top Destination U.S. States

The House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs determine the funding level for educational and cultural exchange programs. Its members are the critical decision makers in Congress determining funding for exchange programs.


Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, + Related Programs

 

 

House

Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations

Majority Minority
Hal Rogers (KY-5), ChairmanNita Lowey (NY-18), Ranking Member
Kay Granger (TX-12)Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2)
Charlie Dent (PA-15)Grace Meng (NY-6)
Tom Rooney (FL-17)David Price (NC-4)
Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1)
Chris Stewart (UT-2)

 

 

 

Senate

Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations

MajorityMinority
Lindsey Graham (SC), ChairmanPatrick Leahy (VT), Ranking Member
Mitch McConnell (KY)Richard Durbin (IL)
Roy Blunt (MO)Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
John Boozman (AR)Christopher Coons (DE)
Jerry Moran (KS)Jeff Merkley (OR)
James Lankford (OK)Chris Murphy (CT)
Steve Daines (MT)Chris Van Hollen (MD)
Marco Rubio (FL)