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We Saved Fulbright, Now We Need to Save CBYX

When the Obama administration wanted to cut $30 million from the Fulbright budget last March, the alumni started the Save Fulbright campaign. It was a success, the Senate and House voted to restore the funding and in December, President Obama "signed the 2015 federal budget into into law that not only fully restored Fulbright funding at its previous 2014 levels but also increased it by $1.8 million to $236,485,000."

Good news? Yes!

But unfortunately we got bad news from another important exchange program: The alumni association of the Parlamentarisches Patenschaft Programm (Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange: CBYX) write:

The US Department of State has cut funding for the CBYX program by 50% for the 2015-2016 program year, and the future of the program's existence is in danger. In order to guarantee that CBYX, one of the most prominent German-American exchange programs for the past 30 years, continues to support 700 German and American participants annually, funding for the program must be restored to $4 million.

Continue reading "We Saved Fulbright, Now We Need to Save CBYX"

Soccer in German-American Relations

1. Celebrating German-American Friendship!
The Berlin chapter of the Fulbright Alumni e.V. invites everybody to a German-American Soccer World Cup Game Watching Party for the match USA vs. Italy. The party will start on Saturday, June 17th, 8:00 pm at Rock Berlin, Immanuelkirchstr.14.  Stephan
Meyer-Brehm is one of the organizers and appreciates feedback from any potential participants by June 11th, "so we won't suddenly run out of beer… (If you should desire to make a – voluntary – financial contribution, a short notice is also most welcome.)" Stephan was a Fulbrighter at the University of Texas at Austin in 1985/86 and can be reached at "stephan AT"
2. Understanding German-American Differences and U.S. exceptionalism!
Andrei Markovits: Offside: Soccer and American ExceptionalismAndrei Markovits: Im Abseits. Fußball in der amerikanischen Sportkultur Fulbright Alumnus Andrei S. Markovits is the author of Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism  / Im Abseits. Fussball in der amerikanischen Sportkultur. I have not read this book, but his other books on Germany and U.S.-German relations are very good and easy to read for non-experts as well.
Markovits is a renown political science professor at Ann Arbor and currently the Gambrinus Visiting Professor of Soccer and Sport Studies at the University of Dortmund. He will lecture about "Soccer in America: Unique among American Sports, Unique in the International Arena of Team Sports" at the Free University of Berlin's John F. Kennedy Institute on June 13, 2006, 2:00-4:00 PM.
Prof. Markovits explains on his homepage:
Soccer is the world's favorite pastime, a passion for billions around the globe. In the United States, however, the sport is a distant also-ran behind football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. Why is America an exception? And why, despite America's leading role in popular culture, does most of the world ignore American sports in return? Offside is the first book to explain these peculiarities, taking us on a thoughtful and engaging tour of America's sports culture and connecting it with other fundamental American exceptionalisms. In so doing, it offers a comparative analysis of sports cultures in the industrial societies of North America and Europe.
Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino comes up with ten funny reasons why soccer isn't a beloved sport in America.
3. Are Americans ignorant of the greatest game on the face of the earth ;-) ?
The Foreign Policy magazine's blog links to a GMI poll that says "56% of American World Cup fans do not know that the 2006 Soccer World Cup will take place in Germany, and only 1 in 10 plans to follow the game." I think they misspelled and polled all Americans rather than just American World Cup fans. They give it a negative twist, but I think the numbers are remarkable and prove that soccer is becoming more popular in the US. I am not sure if the enthusiastic Independent Sources Blog is ignorant of history or trying to be funny: 
The U.S. may not even make it to the round of 16 this time, but that will be a minor setback. As Wells failed to note, was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? No. We eventually won that one too.
Soccer has been more popular in U.S. than President Bush and many Americans think it is. In an interview with Bild (White House transcript), President Bush said:
I never saw soccer as a young boy. We didn't play it where I was from. It just didn't exist. I can't even -- I'm thinking about all the -- between age six, when I can remember sports, and 12 or 13, I just never saw soccer being played. And so there's a generation of us that really weren't fanatic. There's a new generation of Americans that did grow up on soccer. And there's obviously a huge interest amongst that crowd in the World Cup. And some of us older guys are now beginning to understand the significance of the World Cup around the world.
Although President Bush is learning the importance of soccer, Grahame Jones, soccer writer for the LA Times, is angry and describes President Bush as ignorant of the "rich" soccer traditions of New Haven, Connecticut, where George W. Bush was born, as well as the similarly rich heritage of Texas, where he was governor. Via: Global Game.

UPDATE: The United States Embassy created a special world cup site
and describes  the popularity of soccer in the U.S.:
Registration on U.S. Youth Soccer Association teams climbed approximately 90 percent to nearly 3.2 million players in 2002-03 from 1990-91. The number of adult soccer players has also increased approximately 80 percent to more than 5 million since 1987. Statistics also show that while interest in other sports is declining, there is increasing interest in Soccer. The number of total Soccer participants (6-years plus) in 2003 was 17,679,000.
World Cup related post: Congressman accuses Germany of "Complicity in Promoting Sex Trafficking"

UPERDATE: A great German World Cup News Blog in English.
Our reader DJ Walker, who also runs the excellent Footballs are Round blog, informed us in a comment that the quote about Germans having bombed Pearl Harbor is a reference to the movie Animal House. Thanks!

President Bush's chief of staff is an alumnus of the American Council on Germany

The German Tagesspiegel reports that the chiefs of staff of both President Bush and Chancellor Merkel are Alumni of the American Council on Germany (ACG). The author assumes this connection will help to plan Angela Merkel's next trip to the U.S. in May. The American Council on Germany (ACG) describes itself as
an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which promotes dialogue among leaders from business, government, and the media in the United States and Europe. The ACG strengthens transatlantic understanding and coordinates policy initiatives on key issues in the post-September 11 world.
President Bush's new chief of staff Joshua Bolten participated in the ACG's Young Leaders Program in 1988. Chancellor Merkel's Kanzleramtsminister Thomas de Maiziere participated a year later. The American Council on Germany's Young Leaders Program "reaches out to the next generation of decision-makers and opinion leaders by organizing conferences to familiarize them with key transatlantic issues and to enable them to establish a network of contacts across the Atlantic." Chiefs of staff are considered to be among the most powerful politicians behind the scenes and the closest confidants of the heads of government. Let's see if the Alumni connection makes a difference in promoting German-American cooperation and finding compromises on important international issues. Moreover, Mr. Bolten is a proud owner of a German BMW motorbike. He told Tagesspiegel that his BMW K75 is still in good shape after 12 years. He said that he usually promotes American products, but he appreciates this piece of  the German quality work (Wertarbeit).
Endnote:  In November 2003, when the Atlantic Review was not online, but only emailed to two Fulbright mailing lists, we recommended an Economist Survey about America which claimed that President Bush's team has less ties to Europe than previous administrations:
Related to this is a certain disdain for "old Europe" which goes beyond frustrations over policy. By education and background, this is an administration less influenced than usual by those bastions of transatlanticism, Ivy League universities. One-third of President Bush senior's first cabinet secretaries, and half of President Clinton's, had Ivy League degrees. But in the current cabinet the share is down to a quarter. For most members of this administration, who are mainly from the heartland and the American west (Texas especially), Europe seems far away. They have not studied there. They do not follow German novels or French films. Indeed, for many of them, Europe is in some ways unserious. Its armies are a joke. Its people work short hours. They wear sandals and make chocolate.

Increasing personal networks and friendships between Americans and Germans

Since the Atlantic Review is dedicated to improving transatlantic relations, we are increasing awareness of small grassroots organisations that promote mutual understanding between Americans and Germans on the people-to-people level. We have already introduced the Oregon Alumni Association.
Now were are presenting the recently established PPP Alumni e.V. of former participants of Bundestag-Congress exchange program. This association's chair Susan Waldow wrote the following introduction:
Continue reading "Increasing personal networks and friendships between Americans and Germans"

Bill Clinton and Senator Fulbright on arrogance and freedom

In his autobiography My Life, Bill Clinton wrote about Senator Fulbrights's book "The Arrogance of Power" (1966) ( (Deutsches

Fulbright's essential argument was that great nations get into trouble and can go into long-term decline when they are "arrogant" in the use of their power, trying to do things they shouldn't do in places they shouldn't be. He was suspicious of any foreign policy rooted in missionary zeal, which he felt would cause us to drift into commitments "which though generous and benevolent in content, are so far reaching as to exceed even America's great capacitities." He also thought that when we brought our power to bear in the service of an abstract concept, like anti-communism, without understanding local history, culture, and politics we could do more harm than good.

Joe Kristensen, president of the Fulbright Alumni e.V., has compiled several quotes from The Arrogance of Power. One of them is:

Freedom of thought and discussion gives a democracy two concrete advantages over a dictatorship in the making of foreign policy: it diminishes the danger of an irretrievable mistake and it introduces ideas and opportunities that otherwise would not come to light. (...) In addition to its usefulness of redeeming error and introducing new ideas, free and open criticism has a third, more abstract but no less important function in a democracy: it is therapy and catharsis for those who are troubled by something their country is doing; it helps to reassert traditional values, to clear the air when it is full of tension and mistrust. There are times in public life as in private life when one must protest, note solely of even primarily because ones's protest will be politic or materilally productive, but because one's sense of decency is offended, because one is fed up with political craft and public images, or simply because something goes against the grain.

Joe has recommended this book and provided more quotes in the October 2003 issue of the Atlantic Review.

"Alumni play a key role in getting students to apply for Fulbright"

The Institute of International Education wrote in an email:

This year, one of our objectives is to increase visibility and diversity of the U.S. Student Program, and we would like your assistance in recruiting students to the program. Alumni play a key role in getting students to apply for Fulbright. In a survey from last year's applicants, applicants heard about the Fulbright program via Alumni(39.6%); this ranked third with top honors going to a friend (#1) and Professors (#2).