Introducing the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

The people who work at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) come from different backgrounds – from different cities, states, and regions, and from various cultural heritages and traditions.  Yet all of us who work here have one important thing in common: we believe in our bureau’s mission to build friendly, peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through exchanges.  Whether they’re academic, cultural, sports, or professional exchanges, we believe in these people-to-people experiences as a cornerstone of U.S. diplomacy.  For many staff, it was time spent abroad or a transformative educational experience that helped bring us to ECA and jobs in the State Department.

For Mary Evans, a Program Officer with the Western Hemisphere Fulbright Program Branch, it was a two week trip to Germany and Croatia as a high-school student that started it all.  This trip led to more trips abroad and, eventually, to Washington, DC for a Master’s Degree in Latin American Studies and a job working for Fulbright and for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  Mary has seen how human relationships have the ability to transcend political differences and even national boundaries.

Tim Marshall, Senior Program Officer for the East Asia and Pacific Fulbright Branch, lived and traveled overseas as a child and as an undergraduate, an experience that cemented his interest in and passion to learn more about the rest of the world and improve the quality of life of others.  Tim has had opportunities to work on educational and training programs for individuals from the Middle East, Africa, the former Soviet Union, and East Asia and the Pacific.  He also believes strongly that one can better understand and appreciate one’s own culture, history and society by learning more about others.

Karene Grad Steiner, a Program Officer with the Europe and Eurasia Fulbright Branch, was also inspired by early experiences.  She lived overseas as a child, and her classmates and friends in school came from around the world.  She’s thrilled to be able to help other young people make new friends and connections through exchanges!  She has worked on programs that have brought students from Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkey to the United States and currently manages educational exchange programs for students and instructors from all over Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia.  Each day, she sees how access to educational and exchange opportunities can transform individual lives – not only for the students participating in the exchange, but for the many people they meet along the way.

We’re looking forward to meeting more of this year’s UGRADers at the March Re-Entry Workshops here in Washington, DC, and it is our sincere hope that those who participate in the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program will find their lives similarly changed by their time spent in the United States.

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