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Fulbrighters Reflect on their Exchange Year

In this video produced by the German Fulbright Alumni Association in 2014 former German and US grantees talk about the relevance of their exchange experience and their reasons to get involved with the Alumni Association. 

The video captures the importance of the Fulbright program quite well. Authentic, personal, no exaggerations. After watching it, you will probably want to get in touch with the German Fulbright Alumni Association or learn how to get a Fulbright grant: For Germans going to US, for Americans going to Germany, for all other nationalities and destinations

The last link takes you to the State Department and promotes the Fulbright Program as "the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. (...) Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide." Most programs with rich countries are financed jointly. The German-American Fulbright program has received 2.6 Mio EUR from the State Department and US Host Institutions, but the much larger amount of 5.6 Mio EUR from Germany's federal and regional governments in 2013/2014. 332 Americans and 408 Germans received grants in that academic year.

The American Fulbright Alumni Association has just released this promotional video:

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Fulbright Alumna interviews Chancellor Merkel

Ahead of her US visit Chancellor Merkel answered questions from Fulbright Alumna Kate Lindemann on TTIP, the US funding cuts to an exchange program with Germany, and racism & xenophobia in the US and Germany. Video is in German:

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We Saved Fulbright, Now We Need to Save CBYX

When the Obama administration wanted to cut $30 million from the Fulbright budget last March, the alumni started the Save Fulbright campaign. It was a success, the Senate and House voted to restore the funding and in December, President Obama "signed the 2015 federal budget into into law that not only fully restored Fulbright funding at its previous 2014 levels but also increased it by $1.8 million to $236,485,000."

Good news? Yes!

But unfortunately we got bad news from another important exchange program: The alumni association of the Parlamentarisches Patenschaft Programm (Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange: CBYX) write:

The US Department of State has cut funding for the CBYX program by 50% for the 2015-2016 program year, and the future of the program's existence is in danger. In order to guarantee that CBYX, one of the most prominent German-American exchange programs for the past 30 years, continues to support 700 German and American participants annually, funding for the program must be restored to $4 million.

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Young Atlanticism

Two years ago, European Commission President Barroso called for a more dynamic transatlantic relationship based on results rather than process. Speaking at the German Marshall Funds' Brussels Forum he said "We must go beyond traditional Atlanticism and build a new Atlanticism." (Video)

It was one of those grandiose speeches that resulted into applause, but nothing else. N_o_t_h_i_n_g ! I assume that Barroso and his staff only worked on the speech, but not on any initiative to actually build a new Atlanticism.

I believe it is really up to a new generation to revive Atlanticism. Will they (we) succeed? Hard to say. While I am generally pessimistic (realistic), I do feel optimistic once in a while, like right now, when I read Transatlanticism: From a Political to a Social Identity It's a sober-minded, realistic analysis, which criticizes the sort of hollow expressions of transatlantic solidarity and values that I see in Barroso's speech, but it also ends with a positive outlook. The author, Kristin Durant, is President of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association, and wrote this great op-ed for atlantic-community, my day job.

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"What Germans Don't Understand About America"

On Wednesday, January 25 at 7 PM (German time, which means 1:00 PM EST), US Ambassador to Germany Philip D. Murphy will deliver a keynote speech at the American Academy in Berlin entitled "What Germans Don't Understand About America."

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How US Girls Can Find Hot Men in Europe

As a blog dedicated to transatlantic relations, I guess we are obligated to promote this book: The Single Girl's Guide to Meeting European Men Amazon.com, Amazon.de: "This book offers single girls forty proven tips for meeting and interacting with European men - in a frank, energetic voice that twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings alike will love. Katherine Chloe Cahoon then guides readers through the hottest man-meeting spots in Europe country by country - including phone numbers and addresses of the establishments where single girls have the best chances of meeting Europe's hottest males."

Here is one of the many favorable (and totally serious) reviews on Amazon.com:

So good I might switch teams! I'm a guy. I had absolutely no interest in this book, but my wife did. After she read it, she told me it was the greatest piece of 21st century literature. Naturally, I dismissed the notion of a manual to pick up men actually being a worthwhile read, but she insisted, so I gave it a shot. Imagine my surprise when I went to get a drink and saw that I had been reading for 9 hours straight! It was such a compelling page-turner that I somehow unwittingly finished the whole book and convinced myself to start over twice! Never in the course of human history has so much been owed by so many to one author. There are, as advertised, great tips for getting yourself in with some Euro spice, but they feel like an extra gift included with the deftly woven narrative. I only regret that I fell so in love with this book that now I, too, want to fly to Berlin and try to land one of the beautiful young men so well-described in these pages. My wife regrets it, too, but you won't! Read this book today!

The author seems to be serious and has produced a large number of videos to promote the book.

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Lessons for Europe's Social Democrats from the Obama Campaign

David Vickrey, editor of Dialog International, wrote this guest blog post:

In the final days of the 2008 US presidential campaign, John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, accused his Democratic rival Barack Obama of being a "European socialist". McCain based this characterization on Obama's taxation reform program, a plan to "spread the wealth around", which, in fact, is nothing more than a reaffirmation of the tradition of progressive taxation in America.

The charge that Obama was a covert "European socialist" was especially curious since it was made during the weeks in September and October when the Republican Bush administration was nationalizing the American banking system. Certainly European social democrats found McCain's characterization laughable: there was nothing "socialistic" about the Obama campaign's stated policies. What did the candidacy of Barack Obama have to do with European social democracy? And what could social democrats possibly learn from a political campaign in the United States - the bedrock of unfettered capitalism and the epicenter of the global financial crisis? Plenty, according to the German journalist Werner A. Perger. Perger spent time in late summer 2008 in the US speaking with labor union leaders, political activists, and progressive thought leaders.

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Israel Does not Allow Fulbright Grantees to Leave Gaza (UPDATED)

The State Department has taken Fulbright scholarships away from eight students in Gaza, because of Israeli travel restrictions imposed on the Hamas-ruled part of the Palestinian territory.

Sounds like a PR disaster for Israel and the US due to the lack of cooperation among bureaucratic. The New York Times talks about "longstanding tensions" between the US consulate in Jerusalem and the embassy in Tel Aviv and also says that the Israeli defense department and prime minister's office disagree whether a Fulbright grant is a "humanitarian necessity."

How shall there be any economic and political development in Gaza as well as some pro-American sentiment, if students are not allowed to leave the Gaza prison strip? The New York Times also points out:

Some Israeli lawmakers, who held a hearing on the issue of student movement out of Gaza on Wednesday, expressed anger that their government was failing to promote educational and civil development in a future Palestine given the hundreds of students who had been offered grants by the United States and other Western governments.
"This could be interpreted as collective punishment," complained Rabbi Michael Melchior, chairman of the Parliament's education committee, during the hearing. "This policy is not in keeping with international standards or with the moral standards of Jews, who have been subjected to the deprivation of higher education in the past. Even in war, there are rules."

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:

More Iraqi Fulbrighters Seek Asylum
Experiencing America: New Book by Fulbrighters
• Fulbright Workshop on Implementing a Digital Library for the Maghreb

UPDATE: Open Letter by Fulbrighters: Reinstate Fulbright Grants to Students in Gaza

The Petition Site: Help Palestinian Fulbright Grantees Get Exit Visas from Israel.

UPPERDATE:
The BBC reports that the State Department has reinstated Fulbright grants. (HT: Omar)