Educational Partnerships: The Bridge to Peace and Prosperity

Educational Partnerships: The Bridge to Peace and Prosperity

One of the highlights of April 2024 was joining in conversation on the value of international development and diplomacy with Congressman Marc Veasey and Lt. General Steve Speakes (ret.). I have the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition to thank for the invitation to sit on that austere panel. As a member of the USGLC Texas Advisory Council, I help explain to Texans why a robust investment in U.S. capabilities to engage broadly and deeply to build prosperity around the world builds prosperity at home. As President and CEO of the Texas International Education Consortium, this really matters to me. We spend our days building bridges between Texas higher education and partners around the world because, as good as it is for the world, it is even better for Texas.

Spurring opportunity and educational bridges for youth around the world pays dividends to Texas. As the 8th largest economy in the world and the U.S.’s largest exporter, we need like-minded business partners, peaceful societies with wealth to buy our goods, international students to continue contributing $2 billion to the Texas economy, and intellectual partners to innovate with us. At TIEC, our goal is to maximize collaboration opportunities and streamline partnerships so that the world continues to look to U.S. higher education as the pinnacle, and so that Texas continues to prosper.

During the panel, I shared the story of a young Kosovar Albanian man I knew while serving in Kosovo in the year 2000. As the international community took up residence there, and internet cafes began opening, he suddenly became connected to the larger world around him for the first time. He discovered cultural exchange and study opportunities in the U.S. — now perhaps open to him — and I witnessed his whole mind transforming. For the first time in his life, he saw a future that did not include being victim to an authoritarian regime keeping him down. Just knowing opportunity awaited him out in the world, he could now be the master of his destiny. Should his destiny ultimately include building productive bridges with the U.S., that’s nothing but good for us.

This story exemplifies how U.S. educational institutions hold the potential to foster global cooperation and offer opportunity to youth to dream big. Even — perhaps, especially — during times of diplomatic turbulence and economic instability, educational collaboration and university partnerships, often funded or supported by the U.S. Government, keep the channels of communication and cooperation churning. These are vital tools in our diplomatic toolbox that the general public often doesn’t know a lot about, but benefits from. No stronger tactic for peace and prosperity exists than educational partnerships.