Post 1: On the Second Day at the U.S. Department of State

This summer, I am interning at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The Bureau’s mission is to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange that assist in the development of peaceful relations.” One way in which peaceful relations are created is through student exchanges: allowing students from around the world, regardless of background, the ability to come to the U.S. in hopes of furthering their academic pursuits.

In efforts to assist foreign students in learning about the breadth of programs available to them in the U.S., a network of advising centers has been established under the brand “EducationUSA.”

Headquartered in Washington, DC at the Department of State, this summer I will have the opportunity to work alongside a group of staff members who oversee the 400+ advising centers around the world. So far I have had the chance to join calls with advisers from a plethora of various countries and regions. I have also had the unique opportunity to experience one of the EducationUSA projects in action. Recently, the Bureau of International Information Programs’ video production team live-streamed a student visa chat using Facebook Live, part of a regular series of what are called “Interactives.”  The “interactive” part comes from students asking questions and receiving answers in real time.  Visa expert Laura Stein joined the EducationUSA branch chief Alfred Boll as a speaker on the Interactive and shared her expertise with students who wish to acquire student visas to study in the U.S. Watch the full Interactive on Facebook here.

The Interactives are a key example of social justice in action because their purpose is to make information about life in the U.S. available to those who might not otherwise have access to that information. The professionals who conduct the Interactives devote time and expertise to educating individuals through innovative use of the far-reaching capabilities of the Internet. The student visa Interactive was highly successful, and we are already planning future Interactives which will be on topics such as admissions to U.S. universities. Past topics have included a program in Spanish about the U.S. campus experience, and navigating college in the U.S. as a student with a disability.

When not busy with Interactive planning, I have also been helping the EducationUSA team gear up for their annual conference — the EducationUSA Forum — which will take place July 30-August 1 in Washington, DC.  Nearly six hundred professionals from accredited U.S. colleges and universities come together with approximately fifty EducationUSA advisers and 14 Regional Education Advising Coordinators who fly in from all over the world for several days of sharing best practice strategies and networking.  The goal of the event is to increase the effectiveness in recruiting, enrolling, and supporting international students who come to the U.S.

It is going to be a busy summer here in D.C. and I am incredibly excited to see the impact of our work as we prepare to welcome the incoming international students this fall!

-Hannah Cook, ‘20