188. Editorial Note

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the creation of the first Division of Cultural Relations in the Department of State, on July 27, 1968, VOA broadcast an Interview with Assistant of Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Edward Re. The following excerpts of that interview were published in the September edition of the Department of State News Letter:

“The U.S. Cultural Relations Program in Retrospect

“A Voice of America broadcast in the World-Wide English Service and excerpted in several foreign languages marked the 30th anniversary (on July 27) of the creation of the first Division of Cultural Relations in the Department. The Division was the lineal ancestor of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (CU).

“The broadcast featured an interview with CU Assistant Secretary Edward D. Re. Excerpts from the interview, with James Parisi of VOA, follow:

Q. Thirty years ago, in 1938, the number of people going from one country to another—from one continent to another—to study, or teach, or do research, or take part in seminars and conferences was a small part of what it is today. The order of increase is so great as to represent almost a new factor in the relations among peoples of the world. Very large numbers of people today know about educational and cultural travel and exchange activities, and the advantages they can open up on both ends of an exchange. More and more people are becoming directly involved in these activities as the growing desire for greater educational and cultural opportunities spreads around the world.

Governments of the world have seen the importance of these activities and given them strong encouragement and support. The Government of the United States began organizing to do so 30 years ago . . . Dr. Re, what did happen 30 years ago?

“A. Well, Mr. Parisi, on July 27, 1938, Secretary of State Cordell Hull announced the creation of the first Division of Cultural Relations in our Department of State. Secretary Hull, you recall, was a vigorous advocate of the Good Neighbor Policy toward our neighbors to the South, and a vigorous proponent of constructive trade and other relations with other parts of the world as well.

Q. Are we the first nation, Dr. Re, to establish a government program of educational and cultural relations with other countries?

“A. No, not at all. A number of other governments had already done so. In our country, private organizations had been engaged in such activities for a long time before—foundations, churches, universities, the Institute of International Education, and others.

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“I might just add that travel for study and related purposes is an old and almost universal world phenomenon. There were the wandering scholars of the Middle Ages in Europe, for example—scholars who clustered at many places, such as Bologna, Paris, and at Oxford, among others. Various waves of civilization carried their cultures with them to other areas.

Q. Since the United States wasn’t in any sense first, was there anything distinctive about the way we approached these activities?

“A. I would say that Secretary Hull planned very well, because his basic ideas continue in today’s broad range of activities. The Cultural Division he created is a direct ancestor of our present Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, though there have of course been many new programs added along the way. Perhaps the Fulbright Program of academic exchanges, which came a few years later, is the best-known example to most people. Nearly 100,000 people, about two-thirds from other countries, have now been a part of that program since it began a little over 20 years ago. But there have been other programs as well which our Congress has authorized, so that Americans and citizens of other countries and territories could travel to gain the benefits of study, observation, consultation, and friendly association in an academic or other field of special interest.

Q. What were the particular principles that Secretary Hull laid down, Dr. Re?

“A. Well, he and his principal aide, Dr. Ben Cherrington, laid down two central points, and they have marked these programs throughout these 30 years. First, the prime role of our government should be to encourage the widest possible initiative and participation by non-governmental organizations—colleges and universities, corporations, foundations, labor unions, women’s organizations, and other national and community groups. The purpose was to build on the broad base of existing activity in this country. In this way the program could involve the participation of people and institutions representing day-to-day activities throughout the country—thus assuring programs that authentically represented this country.

“A second guiding principle for these programs—established at the outset and continued to this day—is that educational and cultural relations should be reciprocal to the maximum extent possible. We do, therefore, honor the memory of Secretary Hull for the strong foundations he laid for these programs.

Q. You mentioned the Good Neighbor Policy toward our neighbors to the South. Was this new educational and cultural activity a part of the Good Neighbor Policy?

“A. It was certainly in the spirit of that policy. The first activities the Division of Cultural Relations undertook were with other countries [Page 601] of the hemisphere that had signed the Convention for the Promotion of Inter-American Cultural Relations, in Buenos Aires two years before.

Q. Would you know who some of these first grantees were?

“A. Yes, I have had that looked up. A Peruvian author and educator, Fernando Romero, was the first of many leaders in Latin American life and letters to come to the United States under the program. Pedro Calmon, lawyer and historian, of Brazil, and Domingo Santa Cruz, musician and diplomat of Chile, were others who came early in the program. The first Americans who went to Latin America under these programs included Thornton Wilder, the playwright, and Rene d’Harnoncourt, who retired early this month as Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Q. Dr. Re, what would you say are the purposes of the activities in which you are now engaged?

“A. The charter for the activities we conduct today is a new and very broad authorizing act, The Fulbright-Hays Act—more formally known as the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. (I emphasize the word ‘mutual’ because it is just that.)

“When President Kennedy signed the Act, he said Congress had recognized ‘the importance of a more comprehensive program of educational and cultural activities as a component of our foreign relations.’

“The statement of purpose in the Act—an eloquent one, I believe—shows the breadth of the program. Let me cite just a few lines:

“‘To increase mutual understanding . . .

“‘To strengthen the ties which unite us with other nations . . .

“‘To promote international cooperation for educational and cultural advancement;

“‘And thus to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world.’

“Surely you agree that these are eloquent and noble aspirations and purposes.

Q. Dr. Re, what kinds of activities are you now conducting?

“A. Well, I cannot of course describe them all in the few minutes we have. But let me say that on any day we would be engaged in mutual exchanges or related arrangements with countries on all the continents. For example, UNESCO is holding a conference on education in Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya, and we have representatives there; international visitors—many of them distinguished leaders and specialists—are in our country from Latin America, East Asia, the Near East and South Asia, Europe and Africa. American lecturers, consultants, per [Page 602] forming artists and athletes are traveling in many parts of the world. These are just a few general examples of current exchanges—both ways.

Q. Could you give us a more specific example?

“A. I might do so in terms of a group project, since it covers many countries and is now in the third of its four-month program in the United States. It is a project for youth leaders and social workers, begun a dozen years ago by citizens of Cleveland, Ohio. This is truly an international program—with 10 from Africa, 29 from Latin America, 75 from Europe, 31 from the Near East and South Asia, and 10 from East Asia and the South Pacific. One reason I believe this program has been so successful is that the talented and dedicated people who come here are so keenly aware of the importance of their work in their societies, and because they are keenly aware, too, that the problems with which they deal are common problems pretty much the world over.

Q. There doesn’t seem to be much doubt of your belief that programs like these are beneficial to the individuals who participate and to their countries. Would you explain why you believe this?

“A. Let me give two reasons. First, in addition to my own commitment—my fundamental faith in education, for example—there is well-documented proof. A survey made a few years ago in 20 other countries—of nearly 3,000 former grantees—and an additional 1,100 non-grantee leaders in these countries—left no doubt that these programs do increase mutual understanding, do help to dispel misconceptions, do help to establish channels of communication.

“My second reason for faith in these programs is that so many other people—including so many other countries—have faith in them too. We now have agreements with some 48 countries for truly bi-national commissions in those countries to administer the programs there. These commissions, or foundations as they are sometimes called, are composed equally of nationals of the host country and of U.S. citizens resident in that country. In addition, some dozen countries have now pledged financial support through cost-sharing agreements. As Secretary of State Rusk has said, ‘Nothing could better express the mutuality of benefit under international-exchange programs than increasing mutuality of support.’ Over the last year and a half, too, teams of American scholars have visited other countries to discuss with scholars of those countries the directions the program with each country could most usefully take over the next 5–10 years. So far the countries in which such reviews and consultations have taken place are Brazil, Colombia, Finland, Korea, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand and Yugoslavia.

“So the program is really world-wide. And it has—in all its parts—brought more than 125,000 persons into it over the last 30 years.

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Q. Dr. Re, how would you compare the promise—the potential—of such programs today as against 30 years ago?

“A. The promise and potential have of course been there all the time and the rate of growth has been very rapid. The new fact about today is that these activities are more widely recognized—all over the world—to be valuable. Take education, for example. Last October, 150 education leaders from 52 countries met in this country. It was called the International Conference on the World Crisis in Education. The final report of that conference said that ‘. . . education is now a central preoccupation of every nation in the world.’

“President Johnson had discussed the same point, too, in a special message to Congress in 1966. ‘Education,’ said the President, ‘lies at the heart of every nation’s hopes and purposes.’ Then he added: ‘It must be at the heart of our international relations.’

And so, cooperative educational relations among nations are taking a more central place in mankind’s hopes and plans for building a more stable world order. Perhaps this is the best indication we have of the greater promise and potential these activities now have as compared with 30 years ago.” (National Archives, RG 306, Washington, USIA Historical Collection, Subject Files, 1953–2000, Entry A1 1066, Box 48, Educational Exchange Program, International Exchange, 1968)