Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Vietnam at the prestigious Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, Vietnam, highlighting several success stories of Fulbright alumni and noting the positive national security contributions of the bilateral academic exchange program.
The Fulbright Program and other programs like it “play a crucial role in America’s foreign policy,” Clinton said in her speech, by serving to bring down “the walls of misunderstanding and mistrust.” Direct people-to-people ties enable the formation of strong international relations, she said:
I think it is easy … to focus on the high officials who come to visit. But really, although that’s what draws the headlines, what is as important, if not more important, are the daily contacts between our people, so many Vietnamese and so many American people who get to know one another, who have a chance to work together or study together or even live together creating those bonds that really do bring us closer together.
Clinton singled out two Fulbright alumnae in the audience who used their experiences to build new opportunities in Vietnam and Asia. The first woman used her journalist training, received at Indiana University, to start a mentoring and training program for young journalists. To date, more than 2,300 people have participated in the workshops. The second woman, who attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, has become the vice chairwoman of ANZ Bank, the fourth largest bank in Australia.
Clinton made the remarks while on a visit to Vietnam.