Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed a group of 280 high school exchange students participating in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program on June 16 at the Department of State.
Secretary Clinton’s address highlighted the importance of high school youth exchange to international and public diplomacy and commended the students for successfully completing the program during the 2009-10 school year. Secretary Clinton also extended her appreciation to the families and communities who help make these exchanges possible.
“You’ve spent a year in this country. You’ve lived with a host family, people you never knew before you arrived. You’ve gone to school with people you had no reason to believe you would ever meet. And just like any group of people, you liked some and you didn’t like others. You got to know some better than others. But it’s all that process of reaching out, getting beyond your own experience, and finding that we really do share this same planet and we really do have a stake in the future.”
She also spoke about the growth and impact of the YES program over the past seven years.
And I’m thinking about when this program started, it was back in 2003 and there were only 160 students. This year, we have 875, and there are more than 4,400 young men and women who have already participated from nearly 40 countries. And it is really important that we arrange for you to stay in touch with one another and to be part of this network of alumni from the YES program. And in the coming year, the State Department will continue our pilot program to send American high school students to your countries and to have a similar experience to what you have had here in our country.