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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2001 > June
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 5, 2001

State Department Launches Collaborative International Visitor Program

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor are co-sponsoring the International Visitor program "Building Community in a Diverse Society," June 4-16, 2001. The Africa-America Institute is administering this program. The fourteen participants are from Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Israel, Latvia, Rwanda, South Africa (two participants), and Zimbabwe. They are leaders of government agencies, non-governmental organizations or educational institutions that aim to enhance diversity and understanding in their countries.

The State Department is sponsoring this program as part of its preparation for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, to be held in Durban, South Africa August 31 - September 7, 2001. An expected outcome of the conference will be a declaration with "concrete and practical recommendations to combat racism."

Participants in the "Building Community in a Diverse Society" program will interact with a cross-section of American counterparts to share best practices and lessons learned in our common struggle against racism and bigotry. The visitors will examine programs at the federal, state, and local levels that promote racial tolerance and intercultural pluralism. They will observe public- and private-sector involvement in community tolerance and reconciliation programs and services, and will discuss and develop curricula that expand the role of youth as effective promoters and practitioners of tolerance and reconciliation. The visitors also will exchange effective tolerance teaching methods with U.S. educators and international counterparts.

Addressing the visitors in the State Department's Benjamin Franklin Room, Dr. Helena Kane Finn, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said, "As you travel throughout the United States -- to Amish country in Pennsylvania, to Native American lands in Minnesota, and to meet with African and Asian minority groups in Atlanta and San Francisco -- I hope that you gain a real sense of how we are working to build community both through laws and through affecting how people think and feel about one another. I hope as well, that your examining where we have succeeded - and where we have more to accomplish - will be beneficial to you in your own important work in your home countries... I know that you are confronting difficult and complicated issues. I commend all of you for your courage and fortitude and wish you well in your noble endeavors."

Beginning their program in Washington, DC (June 4-6), the visitors receive a thorough overview of diversity in the United States from officials at the Departments of State, Education, and Justice. They also meet with officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps, the Population Reference Bureau, the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Research Council, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Roosevelt High School, and the Institute on Religion and Democracy. The visitors meet for discussion with film director Lucy Gebre-Egziabher and view her short film At the Second Traffic Light.

The group divides into teams (June 6-9) for respective trips - one to Philadelphia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the other to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both teams focus on maintaining individuality while promoting commonality. Reuniting in San Francisco, California (June 9-13), the visitors examine reconciliation and rehabilitation practices.

In Atlanta, Georgia (June 13-16), they focus on peaceful strategies for resolving conflict. They conclude the program with a participant-led workshop entitled The Next Step: Building International Networks, to strategize on how to promote the principles of an inclusive, pluralistic society. U.S. Department of State officials based in Washington, DC, officials at U.S. missions in the visitors' countries and representatives of several non-governmental agencies join this discussion, via audio-feed (June 15 at 12:30 p.m. EST *).

To hear this live discussion, dial (in the U.S.) 888-855-5428 or (International Dialing)

719-457-0820 Code: 578329. To access replay of this discussion at a later date, dial (in the U.S.) 888-203-1112 or (International Dialing) 719-457-0820 Code: 578329.

For additional information or to arrange interviews, contact: Catherine Stearns, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, phone (202) 203-5107 or e-mail cstearns@pd.state.gov.

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) fosters mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through international educational and training programs. ECA's International Visitor Program operates under authority of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (Fulbright-Hays Act), to increase mutual understanding through communication at the personal and professional levels. The program brings participants to the United States from around the world to meet and confer with their professional counterparts and to experience the United States firsthand. Participants are current or potential leaders in government, politics, the media, education and other fields. Further information is available at http://exchanges.state.gov/education/ivp.

The Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) oversees initiatives and policies to promote and strengthen democratic institutions, civil society, and respect for human and worker rights. The bureau ensures that human rights and labor conditions in foreign countries are taken into account in the U.S. policy-making process. In support of these efforts, the bureau prepares and submits to the Congress annual reports on human rights practices and religious freedom in countries around the world. Further information is available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl.



Released on June 5, 2001

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