An update from the Cultural Exchange Panel
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Dear Cultural Exchange members,
During these very challenging times I wanted to reach out to all of our members to provide you with some updates on what we have been working on, as well as comment on the most recent Presidential Proclamation issued by President Trump.
Firstly, the executive order President Trump signed last week suspending several J-1 work-based visa programs until at least the end of this year is shortsighted and ultimately damaging to America’s economy, national identity, and relationship with the world. Every year, the J-1 community brings in over 500,000 international high school students, college students, and young adults to the United States to take part in the J-1 cultural exchange programs governed by the U.S. Department of State. Having our programs temporarily suspended by Trump’s Executive Proclamation is nothing short of devastating for the hundreds of thousands of young adults who were waiting to embark on their life changing experiences.
I would like to stress that the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program does not take jobs away from Americans, but instead supplements the American workforce with bright, curious, international students and young professionals who, in most cases, are having their first experience of the United States. The programs meet staffing needs, but more importantly, allow international students learn about American values and ideals, while building bridges between the United States and countries around the world. Knowing that strength lies in numbers, it is incumbent upon us in the United States to collectively engage with Congressional offices to emphasize the importance of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program for the U.S. economy and public diplomacy. For our members outside of the U.S., it is more important than ever to ensure you are recruiting qualified candidates who will be strong ambassadors of your respective countries.
I have no doubts that the exchange community will continue to defend and support exchange programs and given the breadth of the proclamation and how many categories are included, it will likely face substantial and immediate legal challenges. Now more than ever, it is critical that we all work together to protect these extremely important programs.
To that end, the Cultural Exchange Panel and WYSE Travel Confederation are committed to supporting our members however we can through these challenging times. As a part of this effort, we have scheduled the first of regularly planned informal live calls for Wednesday, 8 July to reach out to sector members. Given the format of the informal call, it is limited to 25 participants and all spots are now taken. Please keep an eye out for the announcement of the next call.
Lastly, I wanted to let you know that we as a panel have regularly been meeting every 2 months, had all new panelists take part in a WYSE Panel webinar about ‘how to be a panelist’, as well as have been discussing the results of the COVID-19 Travel Business Impact Survey. If you haven’t done so already, I highly encourage you to please complete the survey, as business intelligence is needed more than ever.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out should you need our support as you navigate through these challenging times. I look forward to providing you with more detailed updates in the future calls.
The Cultural Exchange Panel
Nick Steiert, CEO, Invasion
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