January 28, 2021
ECA Acting Assistant Secretary Lussenhop: Merhaba. My Name is Matthew Lussenhop and I’m the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
So thank you for inviting me to this anniversary celebration and conference on the impact of the educational exchange on peace, development, and intercultural understanding. Today we celebrate two milestones. The first, of course, is the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Turkey – a program that has done so much to connect the cultures and people of two nations. And the second milestone is the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program worldwide, which we will be celebrating throughout 2021.
The U.S. Government is strongly committed to supporting educational exchanges in Turkey and throughout the world. Turkey has one of the oldest Fulbright Programs not only in Europe but in the entire world. And that’s a source of great pride for us all. More than 5,000 Turks and Americans have participated in Fulbright bilateral educational exchanges to promote mutual understanding and the free exchange of ideas. The Fulbright Program in Turkey serves as a key institution in supporting and increasing the deep ties that exist between the Turkish and the American people. Many Fulbright alumni have been pioneers in their disciplines, often launching entirely new fields of study upon their return from the United States to Turkey. American Fulnbrighters have returned home with new knowledge and lasting ties with Turkey. This morning I would like to recognize our Turkish Fulbright Commission Board. Equally vital to the success of the Fulbright Program is the excellent Commission staff under Prof. Ersel Aydinli’s leadership. These are exceptionally challenging times around the world for all of us due to global pandemic. Some Fulbrighters’ degree programs and research projects have been interrupted, shifted to virtual, or postponed. But, I can assure you that the State Department is doing everything possible to keep Fulbright forward in spite of all the logistical challenges that the pandemic has caused. I’m gratified that our partners on the Turkish side and my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy have been equally flexible and supportive. What unites all of us here is the common Fulbright vision of mutual understanding in both our countries through vibrant people-to-people exchanges between Turks and Americans. Both Governments, Turkish and American, have supported these exchanges for 70 years. This strong, binational support has been essential to the success of Fulbright for 70 years in Turkey – and 75 years worldwide. In cooperation with all our partners in Turkey, I look forward to seeing the Fulbright program flourish in the decades to come.
I send you congratulations and greetings from all of us here at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State in Washington DC.