Public diplomacy relies on our country’s greatest asset, the American people. -- Evan Ryan

By Francisca Acevedo, Work and Travel Program Assistant

On the morning of July 8, 2013, President Obama announced his intent to nominate six individuals to key Administration posts; of these six nominees, Evan Ryan was nominated as the Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State.

On July 30th, Assistant Secretary-designate Ryan’s confirmation hearing took place before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During Ryan’s testimony, she highlighted how influential “people-to-people exchanges” are in advancing U.S. public diplomacy and foreign policy goals. Ryan told the committee that ECA engages 350,000 exchange participants who “get to see America first-hand,” and stressed the role Americans play in teaching the participants’ understanding of the United States.

“By linking Americans together with people from around the world, we can develop lasting relationships and partnerships that overcome political and cultural differences,” she said.

Evan Ryan’s message echoes CCI Greenheart’s mission: to promote cultural understanding, academic development, environmental consciousness and world peace. CCI Greenheart’s Summer Work Travel program is designed to provide international university students with the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in American work life and culture. As a result of the exchange, employers benefit from working with employees of various backgrounds. This helps to bridge the gap between the United States and various countries  that collaborate with CCI Greenheart.

If confirmed, Ryan hopes to expand ECA programs such as Youth Ambassadors and also hopes to continue expanding the Bureau’s English language programs. As she states, her focus will be on creating “lasting people-to-people relationships that are the foundation of U.S. global engagement.” In her opening statement, Ryan outlined four strategic directions for ECA:

  1. Ensuring ECA programs are aligned with foreign policy and are mutually reinforcing;
  2. Leveraging technology and new media to connect more people with America, such as virtual exchange opportunities;
  3. Investing in long-term relationships with exchange alumni to increase the overall impact of ECA’s programs; and
  4. Increasing opportunities for Americans and impact on domestic communities.