Assistant Secretary of State Patricia Harrison’s Remarks
at the 1960s Alumni Reunion
"Making a Difference:  Pioneers in Interchange Between East and West
Honolulu, Hawaii
November 14, 2003


Thank you Dan – for all you do –


I am so pleased to be here – Actually I am sure that is how everyone feels who comes to Hawaii – but I am especially pleased to be part of the East-West Center’s 1960’s Alumni Reunion.


As an American University Alumna of the 60’s – I feel connected to all of you but I am not so comfortable with the idea that we are talking about 4 decades ago.


In this room today, we certainly have at least 40 years of acquired wisdom, experience, and commitment represented by each one of you




As we look at our world today, it is clear that more than ever, it is important for people of good will, alumni of all of our exchange programs worldwide, to utilize this accumulated wisdom and experience to increase mutual understanding, mutual respect between people of different countries, different ethnicities, different faiths on a global level.


And I cannot think of one group more positioned to do just that then the alumni of exchange programs, alumni of the East-West Center, because you represent the committed core, the leadership base, that knows how to connect to others, knows how to share what you know and who you are to benefit others.




begins within the person.  It can be a dramatic moment when you decide – I cannot stand by and do nothing – or it can be a quiet contribution day by day until you look back over four decades and realize that over time you did make a difference.  That you are making a difference.


The role of the East-West Center is critical to making this positive difference and as each of you has benefited from the work and mission of the Center – you have been well positioned to be the way shower for others.


Charles Morrison’s dedication and leadership as president of the East-West Center and his vision for a dynamic alumni association has made a difference in terms of what the center has achieved.


Particularly on programs that serve younger men and women such as the South Pacific Islands Scholarship Program, funded by my bureau, Educational and Cultural Affairs.


Reaching younger, deeper, and wider populations beyond our traditional elite has been my mission since I was sworn in right after September 11, 2001 by Secretary of State Colin Powell.


Right after that terrible time, it was clear that people of good will were looking for ways to connect with one another to make a difference.


First Lady Laura Bush said it so well.  She said,  “Everywhere I go, people tell me they are reassessing their lives.  They are considering public service because they want to make a difference in their communities.”


The call for leadership which is really a call to service is being heard.


Secretary Powell said, as we work together to end the scourge of terrorism, Let us also work to create partnerships for peace, prosperity, and democracy. Like you, I felt it important we move to engage, inspire, inform, and connect with young people – especially those who who are facing what Queen Rainia of Jordan calls the “hope gap”.


The gap between those who have hope for the future because someone like you took an interest in turn and those who have no hope and no future and are susceptible to the siren song of extremists. 


Two years ago, with my team at ECA and the State Department, and the cooperation from ministers of education from many countries, we created a new initiative called Partnerships for Learning.


This is a global educational program based on the premise that people of good will everywhere want only the best for their children and the best begins with a real education, a chance to see beyond the limits imposed by others – a chance for that young person to understand where he or she can make a contribution.


And I am happy to report that 2 years later our first partnerships for learning program at the high school level was launched this September with 130 young people from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the Philippines, just to name a few.


Through P4L, we have expanded Fulbright and professional and youth exchanges.  We have developed English teaching initiatives and teacher training programs and supported conflict resolution exchanges, Islamic studies by American Scholars. And we have strengthened efforts to enhance the learning of critical languages in U.S. Colleges and high schools, using exchange participants to build deeper understanding and respect among people and countries.


I was in Iraq last month with DEP. ASS SEC for ECA Tom Farrell, who is here with me today – and we met with the Presidents of all the Universities in Baghdad.


The first thing on their wish list was for us to work together to make it possible for their young people to reconnect to higher education, to restart the Fulbright Program, to begin the exchange process.


As one President said: “We cannot have a culture of prosperity, if we do not have a culture of real learning.”


Real learning – among other critical needs, is what the Iraqi’s were deprived of during the Saddam Hussein Reign of Terror.  Connection to learning in medicine and history and science and real education was severed and distorted.


So now young Iraqi men and women are eager to connect to the learning they have missed.  They are eager to become alumni of the programs such as the ones offered by the East-West Center, or Fulbright, or our international visitor programs.


Because as alumni they will be ready to help other Iraqis, to train other teachers, to be part of the renewal of their country.


President Bush said, “The relationships that are formed between individuals from different countries as part of international programs and exchanges foster good will that develops into vibrant, mutual beneficial partnerships among nations.”


Last year our exchange programs enabled 35,000 exchanges and all of them at a minimum share their experiences with family, friends, and colleagues and this is where the power, your power lies.


We estimate that over time, they and you as part of the exchange experience will touch the lives of over seven million people.


We now have over 700,000 alumni of our exchange programs and many are household names.


Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan; Megawati Sukarnoputri, President of Indonesia, Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Anwar Sadat, and many more who have achieved as leaders in business, government, the community.


But by far, the majority of alumni continue to make their contribution in a quiet way, constantly building – it is a sustainable contribution, that cause a positive ripple effect because as you volunteer and contribute you teach others how to volunteer and contribute you teach others how to volunteer as well.


Each of you answering the call to service through good headline times and bad, working always for peace and prosperity and democracy.


Right after September 11, 2001 we heard from a young man from Jordan – A Fulbrighter who was at the time studying at the University of Arizona.


The press interviewed him and I will never forget what he said.


“People who come to the United States to study, like myself, are the link between the United States and our people.  And in the end, international educational exchange is the ultimate solution to global terrorism.”


Let me repeat that: International educational exchange is the ultimate solution to global terrorism.


Right before the war in Iraq, my bureau hosted a group of Iraqi journalists from Northern Iraq, Kurds who traveled throughout the United States as part of our international visitor program – they wanted to update their training, journalist skills.


After three weeks they returned to Washington, DC and I asked them what were their impressions.  One of the men said to me – I found out Americans don’t care.


This is not what I wanted to hear.


The look on my face caused him to say oh no, you don’t understand.


We were told that Americans hate the Kurds.  We found out you don’t hate us, you don’t even know who we are.


And you don’t care.


You don’t care how we worship, how we pray.  It was not a problem.


I want this kind of not caring for my country.


In my role as a/s for educational and cultural programs I have the great honor of meeting the people who come to our country on these exchange programs.


People like the Afghan women teachers who taught young girls despite torture and threats from the Taliban.


How did you find the courage to do this I asked.


It wasn’t courage, one woman told me.


It was just the right thing to do.


Well, That is not only courage, it is leadership, knowing the right thing to do and doing it.


These women are studying at the University of Nebraska, learning English and computer skills which they will share with their students and other teachers in Afghanistan as part of a 500 teacher training program over the next two years.


Through Fulbright scholarships and ECA support we are building on ties created between Temple University in Philadelphia and Gadjah Mada, University of Joe-Jakarta to change the way religion is studied, taught, and learned in Indonesia.  The project included a very successful course taught by an American professor from Temple University on the foundations of Judaism.


It was the first time the students Indonesia had ever met, much less been taught by someone of the Jewish faith the Indonesian Minister of Education referred to the project as an island of excellence.


And while our efforts to reach countries and regions with significant Muslim populations have taken on critical importance in the past two years, we are continuing our strong support for academic and professional exchanges between the U.S. and all parts of Asia.


We just celebrated fifty years of remarkable Fulbright programs with Japan, and our much younger Fulbright program with Vietnam is celebrating our tenth year.  The Chinese government is eager to expand Fulbright and our program with India is contributing to deeper understanding between the U.S. and the world’s largest democracy.


The East-West Center manages on the State Department’s behalf, two important scholarship programs for the university students from the Pacific Islands and from the new nation of Timor Less-Tay.


These programs provide study opportunities to talented students and also demonstrate U.S. commitment to engagement with these regions as highlighted by President Bush’s meeting with Pacific Island leaders and with governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, at the Center, just a few weeks ago.


Yesterday, I had a chance to welcome over 300 elementary school children and teachers here at the Center to kick off Hawaii’s celebration of International Education Week.  I was looking into the faces of our future leaders and right now at their age, the faces are hopeful, happy, and positive about their world and their role in that world.


The East-West Center, you and I, must do all we can to ensure that those children get their chance, that they are prepared to meet opportunity.


And I must say after spending time with the East-West Center Board of Governors from throughout the United States and across Asia and the new appointees, the international members and those appointed by Governor Lingle, I encourage on behalf of what we want to achieve for the successor generation.


And excited about the direction that the East-West Center is taking and I know that we in the State Department look forward to a continued and strong, productive working relationship.


And that relationship includes the alumni of the Center.  With the experience you have gained, you and your fellow East-West Center Alumni serve as opinion leaders, activists and contributors.  Your efforts are making a positive difference in the daily lives of so many.


Let me close with a few observations.


Now is the time of either great despair or great opportunity.  I think I can say with assurance that each of you is here and doing the work you do because you have chosen to see this as a time of great opportunity and you are dedicated to helping others.


Each of you is distinct and different from one another.  You share the timeless qualities demonstrated by leaders worldwide, men and women.


You possess a strong need to achieve that is coupled with an equally strong need to contribute; you have curiosity, you are risk takers and you have an open approach to cultural differences.


You are willing to share the benefits of your experience with others.  Without that sharing component, there would be no multiplier effect.


What you do now and in the years to come is critical to our communities, our countries and our world and I know you all will continue to be agents for positive change.


Secretary Powell believes that optimism is a force multiplier and according to the experts, optimists believe that what they do can make a big difference, that what they do matters.


So optimistically and with gratitude and appreciation for your long term commitment to promoting mutual understanding and better relations between Americans and the peoples of Asia, let me thank each of you and Dr. Morrison and the East-West Center for our partnership in this shared mission.


Thank you.