My hosts in D.C.

As a part of our Fulbright seminar in D.C., an amazing couple hosted me and two fellow scholars for dinner.hostsFrom left: Idrissa Fane(Mali), Efe Sevin(Turkey), Alejandro Rico(Colombia), Daisy, Mary Beth Marklein, Peter Kunkel

Apart from Peter’s amazing culinary abilities, the quick city tour, Mary Beth’s own Fulbright experiences in Romania and Daisy’s curiosity; we enjoyed a lively discussion about the effectiveness of foreign Fulbright program. As Dr. Snow (yes, I have to cite her in every piece I write) “millions of  U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent to host these visitors”, I wanted to learn more about their perceptions. Both of our hosts were enthusiastic about hosting us for a dinner, but what do they think about the fact that their tax dollars were spent on graduate students?

Peter spent a few years in Colombia, employed by the U.S. government and Mary Beth was a Fulbright scholar in Romania. In other words, they both had first hand experience about “cultural exchanges”. They were happy about the fact that people wanted to visit U.S. and somehow had the opportunity to see the culture themselves.

During that dinner, we have discussed the importance of exposure to other cultures. Frankly speaking, exposure to a different culture, being aware that there are other people living in other countries is an important step. And public diplomacy can be focused on this very noble aim, creating communication bridges between people!

Once again, I would like to thank Mary Beth and Peter for their incredible hospitality!


Why should you pay a grad student to visit your country?

I believe, my posts thus far are enough to explain the focus of this blog (as well as my respect for Dr. Nancy Snow and Dr. Philip M. Taylor). I will try to write about political communication, – specifically public diplomacy.

Two weeks ago, I was in Washington D.C. to participate in a Fulbright conference. Also I am looking forward to my very first publication. Hopefully, my article – More Than A Touristic Visit: Scholar Exchanges As A Communication Method In Public Diplomacy-* – will be published by April 2009. In other words, I have been spending nearly all my time thinking about the effectiveness of scholar exchanges. Does it really make sense to pay a graduate student thousands of dollars to study in your country?

Simply put, I claim that governments should “pay” graduate students and/or faculty members to continue their studies/researches in their country.

MiamiThis group picture is from my Fulbright “Gateway Orientation” in Miami Dade College. There were over 20 countries represented. For three wonderful days, we discussed cultural differences, intercultural communication and American culture – how to adapt to the society. – So,

  • How is all this related to public diplomacy?
  • How is all this related to the image of the United States in international arena?
  • Scholars are given the chance to “experience” the American life and culture first hand.
  • Scholars are (or have the potential to be) influential figures in their societies, hence they will be “ambassadors” of American image.
  • Scholars share their cultures, points of views and expertise with the United States during their stay.
  • Let’s hear it from Senator Fulbright: “…..These programs can increase the mutual and global cultural awareness and eventually contribute to the world peace, just like any other successful diplomacy attempts. J. William Fulbright espoused this principle in his speech on June, 26th 1986 by saying that “I’m sure that President Johnson would never have pursued the war in Vietnam if he’d ever had a Fulbright to Japan, or say Bangkok, or had any feeling for what these people are like and why they acted the way they did. He was completely ignorant.”

    *Here is the abstract of my paper:

    This paper discusses the concept of Public Diplomacy and the effectiveness of a specific Public Diplomacy tool: Scholar Exchanges as a tool of Public Diplomacy. The foreign Fulbright Program of the United States Government is introduced as a case study and for further interpreting the perceptions of the program, a survey is ran among 59 current grantees. Scholar exchanges programs are suggested to be implemented in order to overcome the barriers in communication processes in the international arena.

    Why another blog?

    Thus far, I believe I had nearly 10 blogs. At one time, I was trying to keep 4 blogs at the same time. So, as a new year resolution, I will focus on this blog during 2009 and post regularly about my views on public diplomacy and goverment to people communication attempts.

    Wikipedia claims that only 12% of the people actually manage to realize their new year resolutions, but this low figure cannot discourage me!