November 15, 2017
Good evening and thank you all for joining us tonight. I’d especially like to thank Mr. Murat Bilal, the Adana Deputy Provincial Director of National Education, for supporting our event and being here tonight. I’d also like to thank Consul Linda Specht for hosting us in her home this evening.
Tonight we are celebrating International Education Week – a time of year when the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education affirm their commitment to international education and exchange programs worldwide. Last year – for the first time ever – the number of international students studying in the United States surpassed one million. Meanwhile, American students are increasingly choosing to study abroad. More than 325,000 U.S. students studied abroad last year, an increase of nearly four percent over the previous year.
But international education isn’t about statistics. It’s a life-changing experience that opens us to new perspectives and new opportunities. Through international education, students encounter new ideas, adapt to unexpected circumstances, and collaborate with diverse peers. These lessons equip students to enter global job markets and solve the world’s toughest challenges. These experiences foster mutual understanding that in turn strengthens relationships between people, communities, and even nations around the world.
And it’s not just the exchange student who benefits. As a high schooler in America, I benefitted from getting to know exchange students from several countries and learning to view America and the world through their eyes. This experience is one of the reasons I chose a career in diplomacy, a field where representatives of all nations work together to overcome misunderstandings and seek or peace and prosperity for all.
Which brings me back to the here and now. In the past year, the United States and Turkey haven’t always seen eye to eye. We do not minimize the fact that there are some serious policy disagreements between the governments. But the United States is deeply committed to the long-term partnership between our two great nations.
Moreover, I am pleased to say that despite disagreements, the United States remains the #1 preferred destination for Turkish students studying abroad. This is in part due to the quality of U.S. institutions of higher learning, the research opportunities they offer, and a flexible education system that welcomes cross-disciplinary work and independent thinking. I am very pleased to say we are again issuing non-immigrant visas, including student visas, in Turkey. During times like these, the people-to-people connections that international education provides are part of what helps the relationship between our two countries endure.
As you continue your studies, I encourage you to pursue an international education experience at some point. Some of our guests tonight have had the chance to participate in U.S. government exchange programs. Here at the U.S. Mission to Turkey, we’re excited to welcome students like you to our country to see what the United States is all about. However, you may also find other opportunities to study in another country. Or you may simply start by learning a new language or taking a course on an unfamiliar part of the world. All of these experiences will set you on the path for success in an increasingly globalized world. Open yourself to new perspectives, and I think you will find a world of opportunity will open to you.
Thank you very much!