Letter from Dr. David P. Patton – The President & CEO of American Councils

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As the current global health crisis continues to unfold, I’m reminded of what we often tell exchange participants before they embark on their programs abroad: “It’s not better or worse. It’s just different.” These words encourage them to not spend their time on their programs thinking about what life was before, but to instead be present in the experience as it unfolds. It can be a difficult mindset to maintain under normal circumstances, and even more so while navigating this unprecedented situation.

As we have transitioned to remote work in the regions around the world where American Councils has program activity, our primary concern continues to be focused on the safety and well-being of our participants, staff, partners, and the global American Councils community. Nearly all participants on our higher education and professional programs have returned home safely. Youth programs’ participants are being closely monitored, with staff working diligently to support them, their host families, and natural parents.

While a significant amount of our summer programming has been deferred, we hope to return to a robust slate of activities in fall 2020. Current and prospective participants, partners, and other stakeholders are eager to resume normal exchange activity, and we look forward to restarting mobility programs—but only when it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, we have begun implementing virtual programming models for language learning, alumni activities, and more. We are also working vigorously to support our alumni, who are leading their communities during this challenging time with skills acquired through their programs. Their impact is clear and impressive.

American Councils’ longstanding mission has been to empower individuals and institutions to address challenges in a diverse and interconnected world. Without a doubt, this world is more interconnected than ever, and our mission is even more relevant. So, for now, we will continue to engage in international exchange, language learning, and research in ways that, while definitely different, benefit participants and communities around the world.

Please continue to take good care of yourselves, your families, and those close to you.