Gilman, Benjamin (R-NY), Former Congressman

Name: Gilman, Benjamin (R-NY)
Title: Former Congressman
Company/Organization/University: Congress

Remarks given by Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), recipient of the 2001 Alliance Award

"Good evening, ladies and gentleman... I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to assistant Secretary Harrison, Mr. Keith, and Michael McCarry, our executive director, and all our fiends at the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange for this wonderful event.

I am particularly honored to be the recipient of this "Alliance Award."

In my years of experience with our nation's foreign policy, I see that the most enduring influence is achieved through our international exchange programs. People-to-people contact - the seeing, doing and interacting - is how we learn to appreciate similarities, differences or other ways of doing things. Exchanges provide forums for new ideas, training opportunities and the chance to build support networks. Professionals, high school students, academics or mid-level government officials all benefit from the experience of interacting with their international counterparts. This exposure to a world outside of one's home country leads to greater understanding, which is particularly important for the emerging democracies where people are looking for a lifeline to secure reforms and freedoms.

Those of us here today understand that we live in a global society, and for the world's only super power, that means a responsibility to enhance the understanding of working in emerging market economies, to train journalists in the methodology of a free press, to work with young leaders to strengthen their commitments to the values of democracy and open societies, and to advocate the rule of law and, most importantly, the respect for human rights in all societies. That is a tall order, but it is being done now by organizations such as this Alliance, and others with whom I have worked.

The 45 to 50 different exchange programs now administered by the State Department reflect our national interests and our global obligations to continually improve the mutual understanding among the citizens of other countries. We may be a global society, but there are still places in the world fraught with uncertainties and risks, as we have unfortunately witnessed in the world recently. Our exchange programs must continue and they should be flexible enough to meet hanging foreign policy needs and our nation's national interest. Again, I want to thank you for this most generous recognition of the Alliance for international Educational and Cultural Exchange.

I am proud to be an advocate for these programs."

Gilman, Benjamin, recepient of the 2001 Allience Award. (October 2, 2001). Rayburn House Office Building.