Welcome to this year’s EducationUSA Forum. Let me begin by acknowledging the hard work done over the past 16 months at colleges and universities, K-12 schools, and other educational institutions across the United States.
Educators and officials at all levels deserve appreciation for their commitment to ensuring that students have been able to continue robust learning, despite the pandemic. I also want to thank students—including international students ― for their resilience and dedication to pursuing their educational goals during a very difficult period.
As together we heal, recover, and build back better from this crisis, this forum is an ideal moment to highlight America’s renewed focus on international education.
Now more than ever, it is imperative that we promote and strengthen international education.
The Departments of State and Education are committed to working even more closely together to advance international education― and today we are releasing a new Joint Statement of Principles in Support of International Education, with support from the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security.
If it wasn’t already clear before the pandemic, it should be clear now that, in today’s interconnected world, many of our biggest challenges are global in nature. To address them, we must work together ― not just within the United States, but also with others around the world.
Regardless of where you live or where you work, or whatever field you work in, what happens continents away can affect communities in the United States. And, what happens here can have an impact in other nations.
That’s why international education is vital: it promotes mutual understanding among people from different nations and helps ensure that Americans from all walks of life better understand the world and are prepared to effectively engage with our neighbors.
The United States wholeheartedly welcomes international students, researchers, and scholars on U.S. campuses. Through their creativity, innovation, and diverse perspectives, they enrich our colleges and universities, as well as our surrounding communities.
Our students, educators, and researchers benefit enormously from engaging with their international peers and from being exposed to their ideas, their perspectives, cultures, and languages.
Our colleges and universities showed incredible resourcefulness over this past year-and-half as they confronted challenges posed by the pandemic, and they clearly demonstrated their strong commitment to supporting U.S. and international students alike.
As we move into the coming academic year, it will be important that we all continue working together to support students and strengthen international education.
Of course, international education also includes other important activities, such as U.S. students studying abroad, international research collaboration, studying world languages, and ensuring that international topics and perspectives are part of U.S. education at all levels.
Participating in international education activities of all kinds enhances students’ global and cultural competency. In addition to helping our students better understand the interconnections among local, national, and global events, it helps develop their critical thinking skills, their understanding of diverse perspectives, and their ability to communicate effectively with people from different cultures.
Speaking from both personal and professional experience, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity, and the value of these competencies.
That’s why we encourage all Americans to consider pursuing international experiences like studying, interning, teaching, or conducting research abroad. Some of these experiences can even be done virtually. Participation in international education and other experiences should reflect the incredible diversity of the United States ― a gift that is one of our greatest strengths.
At the Departments of Education and State, we look forward to working even more closely not only with one another and with other federal agencies, but also with all of you. Together, we can ensure that students from around the world know that they are welcome on U.S. campuses, and that U.S. students have many opportunities to benefit from international education here at home, and abroad.
I hope all of you participating in this year’s EducationUSA Forum have an enjoyable and productive week. Thank you.