Ambassador David Satterfield ’s Virtual Remarks to the Fulbright Commission’s 70th Anniversary

January 28, 2021

Ambassador Satterfield: Good afternoon. I am delighted to join the Turkish Fulbright Commission on the occasion of its 70th anniversary. As the honorary Chairman of the Commission, it is my pleasure and honor to address you today, and I thank you for this opportunity.

In September 1945, immediately after the end of World War II, U.S. Senator James William Fulbright introduced legislation to establish the Fulbright Exchange Program. As the longest-serving Senate Foreign Relations Chairman, Senator Fulbright believed in the power of education to bring about a more peaceful world. It was his own experience as a Rhodes Scholar, along with the devastation of the second World War, that led to the creation of these scholarships. Senator Fulbright’s vision was clear: to take advantage of educational opportunities as a means to expand the boundaries of human wisdom, empathy, and perception. In the wake of a destructive world war, Senator Fulbright perceived that we could and should engage with one another for mutually constructive and beneficial purposes, such as trade, medical research, and the development of new energy sources. Senator Fulbright’s vision was more successful than even he could have imagined. Fostering leadership, learning, and empathy between cultures remain the primary goals of the Fulbright program.

As Mustafa Kemal Ataturk once said, “The biggest battle is the war against ignorance.”

These 70 years of uninterrupted Fulbright exchanges between the United States and Turkey demonstrate how deeply the both of our nations value education, peace, and democracy. The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy–the willingness to see the world as others see it. The simple purpose of this program is to reduce the cultural mistrust that sets nations against one another. I want to acknowledge and thank the Turkish Fulbright Commission for all of its hard work over the last 70 years to produce over 5,000 scholars. Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Fulbright program is working with 8 Master’s/PhD grantees and 3 Foreign Language Teaching Assistant grantees in Turkey. These grantees are joining their programs virtually because their institutions are not open for in-person learning. There are 80 grantees in the U.S. right now – 35 who are working on their Master’s/PhD’s, 14 visiting student researchers, 10 Foreign Language Teaching Assistants, 2 Community College Initiative participants, 2 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows, and 7 in the postdoctoral program.

Our successful partnership will continue to bring the people of the United States and Turkey closer to each other through our shared democratic values and our commitment to education.

I look forward to marking this occasion with a reception when it is safe for us to gather together in-person.

So congratulations on 70 impressive years and I look forward to many more successes in the future.