U.S. Educational and Cultural Institutions

Thousands of U.S. academic, citizen, work-study, cultural and other institutions are involved in international exchanges. This segment covers only a representative sampling of some of the best known among them.

Alliance for Educational and Cultural Exchanges

Many of the most prominent U.S. exchange organizations belong to the Alliance for Educational and Cultural Exchanges. An agenda-setting, advocacy and coalition-building body, the Alliance defines its mission as “to formulate and promote public policies that support the growth and well-being of international exchange links between the people of the United States and other nations." Included within its membership are 71 institutions that focus on citizen exchanges, farm exchanges, high school programs, international visitors, au pair employment and a wide variety of other programs related to international higher education that are eligible to bring foreign visitors to the United States under the “J-Visa” program (see the Alliance’s website for a list of members and links). With the exception of the East-West Center, all the organizations in this segment of the website belong to the Alliance.

 

top

Association of International Educators (NAFSA) (NAFSA)

Founded in 1948 as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA), this group has since changed its name to reflect its interest in a much wider range of international education and exchange. The Association of International Educators continues to be made up of student counselors who cater to the hundreds of thousands of foreign students on American campuses. The organization boasts nearly 9,000 regular members, from all 50 states and 78 countries, and holds an annual conference that attracts thousands of American and foreign participants from the international exchange community.

top

East-West Center (EWC)

The East-West Center (EWC) is an education and research organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific and the United States. Through its many interdisciplinary programs, the EWC seeks to contribute to a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia Pacific community by serving as a hub for cooperative research, education and dialogue on critical issues of common concern. Funding for the Center comes from the U.S. Government, with additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations and governments of the region.

top

Institute of International Education (IIE)

The Institute of International Education (IIE), an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. Its declared mission is to promote closer relations between the people of the United States and those of other countries, to strengthen and link institutions of higher learning, to rescue threatened scholars and advance academic freedom, and to build leadership skills and enhance individual and organizational capacity. Through its extensive research, educational, training and exchange activities, IIE administers more than 200 programs annually serving some 18,000 individuals from 175 countries. One of its major initiatives is managing the Fulbright program, which exchanges students, scholars, researchers and other professionals under an annual grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State. While IIE directly manages the student Fulbright programs, the Fulbright professors and scholars are handled by the IIE division CIES (the Council for International Exchange of Scholars). IIE also administers the Hubert H. Humphrey program, which brings mid-career professionals to the United States, and is one of the programming agencies for the State Department’s International Visitors Program.

top

National Council for International Visitors (NCIV)

The National Council for International Visitors (NCIV) was incorporated in the District of Columbia in 1961. Initially known as the Community Services to International Visitors (COSERV), it became NCIV in 1982. NCIV is dedicated to expanding opportunities for citizen diplomats and providing services to members that help them be more effective citizen diplomats. NCIV has since grown to include 90 private, nonprofit organizations around the country, representing communities in 43 states, as well as 7 program agencies, 27 associate members, and numerous individual and corporate members. The NCIV network of citizen diplomats is strengthened by its reliance on dedicated community volunteers committed to increasing international understanding by opening their homes, schools, businesses, local governments and nonprofit agencies to leaders from abroad. The international visitors served by the NCIV network are participants in the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Program (IVP), other international exchange programs, and guests of local governments, corporations, universities, medical and research centers, and other professional organizations.

top

People to People International

Founded in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, People to People International focuses mostly on grassroots exchanges in furtherance of ideals espoused by President Eisenhower, who said: "I have long believed, as have many before me, that peaceful relations between nations requires understanding and mutual respect between individuals." As an institution People to People is dedicated to the objective of enhancing international understanding and friendship “through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures.” President Eisenhower's granddaughter, Mary, serves as president and chief executive officer of the group.

top

Sister Cities International (SCI)

Although isolated partnerships and informal citizen relationships involving international municipalities have long existed, the Sister Cities program got its real impetus from a 1956 White House Conference on Citizen Diplomacy hosted by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In the ensuing years more formal relationships between U.S. and foreign municipalities expanded rapidly, and the concept proliferated to such an extent that throughout the world most major cities have at least one and often many sister city relationships with counterparts on other continents. These relationships typically foster citizen exchanges and tourism, educational and other connections, closer economic ties and the sharing of mutual experiences in dealing with urban problems such as water and sanitation, health, housing, education and transportation. In the brochure for its 50th anniversary celebration, Sister Cities International defined its goal as to help “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation – one individual, one community at a time.”

 

top