In eight countries around the world, 20 young Americans will soon be assuming new work spaces in cabinet-level ministries. They’ll barely have time to thumb tack photos of their loved ones on the walls before getting down to work with their new colleagues.
What is that work? The real and everyday challenges those governments face in Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Thailand, and Tunisia. And what brings these committed young men and women to these posts? They are the first members of a fellowship program — sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs — that seeks to build mutual understanding and strengthen the development of public sector institutions overseas. These inaugural Fulbright Public Policy Fellows will serve as special assistants in ministries of education, energy, agriculture, commerce, health, youth, and others.
These program participants are doing more than helping public servants in other countries. They are building bi-national relationships, and extending American values and ideals. They are helping to ensure that a new generation will be dedicated to public service and global cooperation.
As they gathered at the State Department on Tuesday, August 14, for their pre-departure briefings, I had the opportunity to join Secretary Clinton and Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources Linda Thomas-Greenfield to offer our congratulations and wish them success.
As I told them, public service is something that Secretary Clinton has treasured all her life — ever since she came to Washington to serve as an intern on Capitol Hill. She believes — as I do — that serving citizens in the trenches of public service is one of the most honorable and effective things that a young person can do for society, for democracy, and — most importantly — for people.
The Fulbright Program is one of the best and most effective ways to advance our people to people ties. By creating opportunity for educational advancement, we are working to help build better futures, establish lifelong connections around the world, and in the larger sense, to build trust and mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. They will not only have the chance to appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to truly serve citizens. They’ll be part of a public policy lesson writ large. That makes them citizen ambassadors. And for that they have our undying gratitude.