Last week, CIEE exchange program hosts and participants convened in Washington, D.C. for CIEE’s inaugural Advocacy Forum, where they met with the offices of nine Members of Congress, including four newly-elected in 2018, to advocate for the future of international exchange.
In their meetings, attendees shared their personal stories about the positive impact of being a host or participant in an international exchange program. Attendees represented four programs (Work & Travel USA, Internship USA, Camp Exchange USA, and the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program), seven states, and nine countries, including six host employers, nine current exchange participants, two alumni, one American high school student, and one host mom.
Advocacy Forum participants had the opportunity to describe to Congressional offices how international exchange programs don't just benefit the American economy and the individual participants, but also have an enormous effect on public diplomacy. The meetings served to reinforce the message that international exchange programs bring together people from more than 190 countries, resulting in increased mutual understanding that supports America's national security and foreign policy interests.