International Communication

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Monday, December 5, 2011

The JET program and US Public Diplomacy

This week’s readings revolved around the discipline of Public Diplomacy. Most appropriately, Joseph Nye’s piece, Public Diplomacy and Soft Power was assigned.  In Nye’s work he first defines the purpose of Public Diplomacy and then its methodology, including his three dimensions of public diplomacy: daily communication, strategic communication, and development of lasting relationships.  Nye then evaluates various types of public diplomacy worldwide from all three dimensions and makes recommendations for the US’ future course of public diplomacy.  One of these recommendations is practicing isomorphism in regards to Japan’s JET program and others like it, where the Japanese government invites foreigners to spend a paid year in Japan teaching their language and culture.  Nye believes that the alumni of a similar program hosted in the US would create groups of informal US cultural ambassadors across the world, which could remain connected via the Internet. 
                  As the US receives harsh criticism and negative public opinion from around the world it seems an opportune time to engage in a US version of Japan’s JET program.  American’s foreign language abilities are well below world standards, and American’s exposure to world cultures and affairs are similarly low.  A teaching program bringing native speakers to the US for a long period of time in an immersed community could have a two-fold effect where US citizens are given a more dynamic educational opportunity, while foreigners are exposed to the US culture beyond that of their own media.  
                  With that said, there are many hurdles in putting a program like this together in a post 9/11 America, particularly in regards to visas.  One of the criticisms of the US is it’s expensive and arduous process of arriving here, first through obtaining a visa and then the probable search and question routine at the airport.  Many foreigners have reported that they feel unwelcome when they arrive in the US and that is from their first experience at the airport!  There must be other hurdles and issues as to why a US JET program has not been created in America, likely including funding.  Please write a comment if you know other educational exchange program issues or if a similar JET program is currently taking shape here in the US.

- Claire

1 comment:

  1. Fortunately, State Department (ECA Bureau) does fund several excellent teacher exchange programs.

    For example, you might like to take a look at the Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) program, which is most similar to the Japan program described in your post:

    There's also a more traditional program, a direct teacher swap involving the U.S. and 7 other countries; most are in Europe, but India and Mexico also participate:

    In addition, there's a "Distinguished Teacher" exchange program that provides university-level training and collaborative learning for U.S. teachers who go abroad and foreign teachers who come to the U.S.:

    An excellent new program for U.S. participants is the English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) -- sort of a cross between Peace Corps and Fulbright:

    State Department also offers a six-week program for foreign teachers from over 35 countries to come to the U.S. for advanced courses in their subject fields and in education:

    Finally, you may be interested in this program, which appears to be jointly funded by the U.S. and Japan through the Japan Fulbright Commission; it gives American teachers the opportunity to observe and work in Japan's innovative Education for Sustainable Development (ESD):

    You have mentioned the key element of follow-up with alumni of such programs, and this is a priority within State Department public diplomacy, given the potential of such program alumni to build more permanent bridges and maintain stronger and deeper understanding between the U.S. and other countries. This alumni website is a foundation element of alumni outreach, but there are many other Washington-based and Embassy-based programs aimed at maintaining relationships with and through alumni: