Good morning everyone. I am delighted to be here today to inaugurate The Hindu International Education Fair, now in its seventh year. I hear that the fairs held in Coimbatore and Kochi over the last couple of days were a great success. I would like to congratulate The Hindu team for making this such a successful event year after year.
In my three years in India, I have come to appreciate the high importance and priority that Indian parents and students attach to education. Coming from a family of teachers, I couldn’t agree with this more. I am even more delighted to see a surge of interest in international education – a topic critical not only to our own countries but our shared global future.
In over 20 years as a U.S. diplomat, I have had the chance to see firsthand the value of international education and educational exchange. There is no greater influence on international understanding – and through it on peace and progress – than that which comes from opportunities for people of different countries and cultures to meet each other and spend time in each other’s countries. And while visits are good and work opportunities are even better, no overseas experience is more powerful or more meaningful than education.
This past November, our Secretary of State John Kerry said: “When the challenges that we face today – whether climate change, youth unemployment, global health – transcend borders, international education becomes even more vital…. International Education prepares our youth for the globalized 21st century workforce, whatever the field of study someone may choose.”
U.S. universities welcome international students, and likewise, we encourage American students to look beyond the horizon and seek a world of learning experiences. Today, colleges and universities in the United States are making efforts to increasingly internationalize their campuses by welcoming more students from other countries and collaborating with international institutions on study abroad and other programs. American campuses have realized that efforts to increase international student enrolment help produce graduates better prepared to engage and lead in the new global economy.
India has been one of the leading places of origin for international students in the United States. Approximately 100,000 Indians currently pursue higher education in the U.S. comprising the second largest single foreign students group. At the highest levels of our governments, the U.S. and India are working together to build world class educational institutions and initiatives through a variety of projects under our U.S.-India Higher education dialogue. Fulbright-Nehru fellowships and many other joint initiatives such as the Obama-Singh Knowledge Initiative are fine examples of the U.S. and India partnership.
As the saying goes – a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I encourage you to take that step today, and visit the U.S. Consulate and EducationUSA stall and the stalls of the country representatives, and universities from around the world who are now literally at your doorstep. I hope many of you find – and seize – the opportunity to visit and study abroad. I assure you that from these experiences, you will discover new abilities within yourself, as you continue your journey as a citizen of the world.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hindu team, and in particular my friend Nirmala Lakshman, for inviting me today. The Hindu has been a wonderful partner to the U.S. Consulate for years and promoting quality education for all of our youth is a shared, priority objective.
I wish you all the very best in the pursuit of excellence in your chosen fields.