The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange – coordinated by The Forum on Education Abroad – consists of institutions, program providers, and J-1 visa sponsor organisations.

“International education and exchange is not ‘a nice to have’ but it’s something that’s critical”

“Our mission is to connect international education and exchange stakeholders for shared media outreach, advocacy, and research that makes a compelling case for the critical value of global engagement and public diplomacy to achieve a more collaborative and peaceful world,” the founding members have stated.

“We recognise that there is growing nationalism and isolationism around the world, certainly here at home in the United States. But the US isn’t the only place that’s suffering from that what I’ll call short sightedness and self-interested approach to international relations,” president and CEO of the Forum on Education Abroad, Melissa Torres, said.

“We really want to revive the communication and the education around citizen diplomacy and the people to people aspect of education abroad and exchange that has for decades and decades helped countries break down barriers and promote collaboration.”

One “silver lining” of the global pandemic is the need for scientists to solve a major catastrophe collectively, she suggested.

“You see that there’s an even greater need for cooperation and collaboration and being able to work with people who don’t look like you, who don’t talk like you, who don’t have the same life experiences that you do,” she said.

It connects with the aim of the coalition – to promote and develop interpersonal connections through international education and exchange experiences enhance international collaboration, understanding, and security.

“We want to be inclusive and tell the stories of people who have benefited from these experiences and also use the vast resources that are out there to show some of the data that supports what we’re saying, both the economic contribution, but also the personal growth and the impact that these programs have on individuals and communities both at home and from a host perspective,” Torres said.

Erica Carley Harris, head of Government & Public Affairs at CIEE, added that the organisation will seek to create a community, bringing together entities that “support international education and exchange in the US that currently do not have a home within existing coalitions and associations”.

Examples include trade associations, J-1 host organisations,  international representatives and also  international institutions, she said.

“There’s no huge umbrella organisation that is representing all of those various stakeholders, but these are all entities that are very invested in the future success of international education and exchange programs” Harris said.

“In these times we’re really going to have to convince the American public, and then by extension of the global public, that international education and exchange is not ‘a nice to have’ but it’s something that’s critical and that it’s part of economic recovery and part of the recovery of strong global relations and foreign policy.”

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