US: National Security Language Initiative is bringing foreign language teachers to teach Arabic, Chinese, Farsi and other critical languages

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Apr 21 10:53:02 UTC 2007

Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > From the Under
Secretary > Remarks by Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public
Affairs Karen Hughes (2007)

 Testimony before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Karen P. Hughes, Under Secretary, Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Washington, DC
April 19, 2007

Thank you. Chairwoman Lowey, Ranking Member Wolf, Members of the
Subcommittee, thank you for your passion and enthusiasm for public
diplomacy and for this opportunity to update you. Because this is my first
time to testify before this committee, I also want to reiterate a
statement I made in my initial hearing, that America's public diplomacy is
neither Democratic nor Republican but American and I appreciate your
bipartisan support.

Twenty months ago, when I started work at the State Department, more than
30 reports had been written about public diplomacy, many of them sharply
critical, and many of our public diplomacy professionals felt their
important work was undervalued. Today, a re-energized, re-invigorated
public diplomacy team has implemented most of the key recommendations in
those reports; public diplomacy now has a place at the most senior policy
tables of our government; our public diplomacy programs are reaching more
people around the world more strategically than ever before, and public
diplomacy is now viewed as the national security priority that it is.
Because our efforts against terrorism are more than a military or
intelligence matter, but also an ideological struggle, we are asking you
to fund urgent public diplomacy programs in this year's war on terror
supplemental request, and to support increases for vital programs in our
2008 budget request.

As members of this committee well know, public diplomacy is a long-term
effort that will require ongoing support for programs and personnel for
years to come - yet we are making great progress and putting in place the
institutions and partnerships that are critical to our success.

Twenty months ago, our higher education community was alarmed by declining
numbers of international students and a lingering perception that student
visas were hard to get in the aftermath of September 11th. Today, we have
reversed that trend. We issued a record number of 591,000 student and
exchange visitor visas this year and are actively partnering with
America's higher education community to send a clear message that we want
the future leaders of the world to come here to study and get to know us.
Thanks to team efforts with our colleagues at Consular Affairs and at
embassies across the world, the President of Rice University recently
said, "We have solved the student visa problem."

Let me pause here to extend deepest sympathies to all those affected by
the horrible shootings at Virgina Tech this week. All of us were shocked
and terribly saddened by this horrific tragedy. One thing it underscored
is the international nature of US higher education, as the names and
nationalities of the victims and their families came from around the
world. I want to assure the world's students and their families that we
want our schools to be places of safety, sanctuary and learning, and we
are committed to doing all we can to assure the safety and security of our

Our flagship Fulbright program in FY06 is at a record high of 1,300 awards
to American students, our growing Gilman program has increased the
diversity of U.S. students participating in study abroad programs and our
new National Security Language Initiative is bringing foreign language
teachers here and sending American young people across the world to learn
Arabic, Chinese, Farsi and other critical languages. Participation in our
education and exchange programs has grown in the last three years from
27,000 to nearly 39,000 and will increase to more than 42,000 with your
support for our budget requests. We are reaching new audiences. We have
proven through evaluations that our English language teaching program for
disadvantaged young people not only gives them a marketable skill, but
also changes perceptions of America among a critical 14 to 18-year-old
population. With your support for our supplemental request, we will expand
this proven, popular program to even younger boys and girls ages 8 to 14,
young people we currently don't reach, through summer and after school
programs this year.

Twenty months ago, the federal government had no effective, up to the
minute way to know what international media was communicating to mass
audiences about America or its policies. Our new Rapid Response Unit now
constantly monitors international media, informs American policy makers
with a concise daily report of what is driving world news from the Middle
East to Latin America, and provides our U.S. position on those issues to
an email list of several thousand senior officials, from Cabinet
secretaries to military commanders. Our Bureau of International
Information Programs has been transformed into a high tech hub with web
sites in English and six foreign languages and a digital outreach team
that counters misinformation and myths on blogs in Arabic. A group of
exchange students recently shared their experiences by posting videos on
You Tube, and our new regional hubs have media spokesmen with language
capability who appear regularly on television across the Middle East and
in Europe and book other American officials to do the same - our presence
on Arab media has increased by 30 percent since their inception last fall.

Twenty months ago, many of our ambassadors were reluctant to engage the
media without pre-clearance from Washington - now we provide media tools
and training -- and public diplomacy is a criterion in the evaluation of
every ambassador and Foreign Service officer. A producer for an
international news service recently wrote us that as a result of these
efforts, quote: "Our ability to cover the transatlantic agenda is in
better shape than it has ever been."

Twenty months ago, our inter-agency efforts were stalled. Today, we have
developed integrated interagency plans to combat ideological support for
terrorism in key countries. These plans identify specific target audiences
and recommend programs to reach them, and with your support of the 2007
supplemental, we will begin funding these programs. We've developed a
strategic communications plan for the US government and are in the process
of creating an interagency counter-terrorism communications center at the
state department. This center's daily mission will be developing
culturally sensitive messages to undermine ideological support for terror.
It will be staffed by experts who are able to tap into the resources of
their home agencies.

Twenty months ago, numerous reports had recommended much greater
cooperation with the private sector. Today, the new office of private
sector outreach that we established in my office has leveraged more than
$800 million dollars in private disaster relief, job training, education
and exchange programs through new partnerships with American companies,
foundations, NGO's and private citizens. American CEOs have stepped
forward to provide earthquake relief in Pakistan and to help rebuild
Lebanon -- and at a private sector summit earlier this year at the State
Department, the business community developed 11 specific recommendations
to get American businesses more involved in public diplomacy. Through a
new partnership with FORTUNE Magazine's most powerful women, American
business women are mentoring emerging women leaders across the world. In
partnership with the Aspen Institute and 12 American communications
schools, nearly 200 international journalists are currently in America
meeting with American policy makers, receiving training in professional
standards of objective reporting and learning more about our country.

Twenty months ago, we did not have interaction with the people of Iran and
had not since 1979 - today we have successfully conducted four exchange
programs with Iranian medical professionals and teachers and sent American
wrestlers to a match in Iran. We have also expanded our exchanges with
Iraq and Afghanistan after resuming the Fulbright program in those
countries for the first time in more than two decades.

Twenty months ago, our cultural advisory committee highlighted a critical
need for more cultural diplomacy. We have launched a new Global Cultural
Initiative in partnership with groups like the Kennedy Center and American
Film Institute to foster more cultural programs and exchanges. By doing
so, we are fostering the freedom of expression that is the lifeblood of
the arts and reminding audiences across the world that despite differences
of language or culture or policy, we share a common humanity. We are
dramatically expanding our sports programming and are working in
partnership with America's professional and college sports community to
reach out to young people in a way that also teaches life skills of team
work, discipline, and respect for one another.

Your full support for our supplemental request and 2008 budget will fund
programs in the three areas that I believe should be our main focus:
expanding our education and exchange programs, improving our
communications and highlighting the diplomacy of our deeds. Our
people-to-people programming, including student and professional exchanges
and English teaching programs, is one of the most effective things we can
do to build better relationships around the world. Our most recent
evaluation showed the overwhelming majority of students in our Access
English language program reported a more favorable view of America as a
result of their studies. "Before the Access program," a young man in
Morocco said, "I had a kind of negative image about Americans, but after
joining the program and knowing American teachers, I have a very different
view." A student in Bangladesh said he had learned "the Americans are like
us." With the explosion of media across the world we are competing for
attention and credibility in a crowded communications environment and we
must continue to expand and modernize our communications effort. The third
area that we are emphasizing is what I call the "diplomacy of our deeds" -
the concrete ways in which America is helping people around the world to
have better lives, especially in areas people care most about: education,
health and economic opportunity. Funding in our budget request will allow
us to partner with USAID to publicize some of the development programs
that are making such a powerful difference.

We realize this is a difficult budget environment and we are committed to
evaluating our programs and funding those that are most effective. We have
instituted a "culture of measurement" across public diplomacy, building on
the success our education and cultural affairs office has had in
evaluating its programs. Our new public diplomacy evaluation unit has
initiated a "mission activity tracker" that is now being piloted and will
go worldwide later this year to allow standardized tracking of our
expenditures and the audience reached by activity. We are conducting focus
groups and just completed the 10,000th survey in a new on-line evaluation
system. What works we will expand and continue. What doesn't, we will
change, cancel or improve.

I like to describe our efforts as "waging peace" -- because I believe we
must be very intentional about reaching out to the rest of the world in a
spirit of respect and friendship. Our three strategic imperatives are to
foster a sense of common interests and values between Americans and people
of other countries, to isolate, marginalize and discredit the violent
extremists and to foster a positive vision of hope and opportunity that is
rooted in our values: our believe in freedom, equality, the dignity and
worth of every human being. I'd like to close with a story that tells me
our public diplomacy programs are accomplishing these objectives. A young
man from Malaysia told us as a result of what he had learned in our YES
high school exchange program: "I want to dream! I want to become a Prime
Minister and speak out against discrimination and oppression! I want to
revamp our exam-oriented education system and expose our children to
learning for learning's sake! I want to fight poverty, to cure cancer, to
resolve wars, to battle corruption, to educate children, to nurture lives!
I want to give hope to our world!"

Members of the subcommittee, that's what you and I want, too. At a time
when violent extremists are trying to recruit young people to die in
suicide bombings, America's public diplomacy is helping give young people
a reason to live. Thank you for your support -- I look forward to working
with you and your great staff - and I look forward to your questions.


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