Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale
Palazzo della Farnesina, Roma
June 5, 2023
(As prepared for delivery)
Buongiorno everyone. I would like to thank Minister Tajani and the staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for hosting this important event. We appreciate your commitment to this outstanding binational partnership. I would also like to recognize Fulbright Commission Executive Director Paola Sartorio and her team for your hard work and dedication.
Seventy-five years ago, Senator Fulbright initiated this remarkable exchange program to advance world peace. He suggested selling surplus materials from World War II and using the funds to build cultural and academic relations among countries. The program is now one of the most successful international academic exchange programs in the world.
The U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission is one of the oldest and largest in Europe. Since 1948, approximately 14,000 Italian and American students, teachers, lecturers, and researchers have participated in the program. This success was only possible due to the generous support of the Italian and American taxpayers. The Italian government and other organizations have contributed nearly half of the Commission’s budget. We thank you for this important contribution. There is no better investment in the transatlantic community.
For those of you who are in the program, we have very high expectations. Previous Italian and American alumni have gone on to become Italian prime ministers; Nobel laureates; Pulitzer Prize winners; and MacArthur Foundation fellows.
The U.S.-Italy Fulbright program has given thousands of students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to complex global challenges. The program has also fostered mutual understanding between the people of the United States and Italy. Every Fulbright alumnus is an American or Italian ambassador to their own communities and families.
For those Americans returning home, I commend you for the tremendous effort required to take part in this unique program. I ask you to remain active in the global network and to continue to collaborate on critical issues, including efforts to combat climate change, advance public health, and increase economic opportunities for all our people. As Fulbright alumni, you can play an important role, help in the selection of new grantees, and mentor prospective applicants.
Agli italiani che si apprestano a partire, vi auguro successo nei vostri programmi e un’esperienza indimenticabile negli Stati Uniti. Spero che il fatto di essere un Fulbrighter diventi ispirazione per il vostro futuro. Come i numerosi e distinti alunni italiani che ho citato prima, sono certo che anche voi in futuro avrete un impatto decisivo sulle vostre comunità e sulle relazioni tra le nostre due nazioni.
The U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission’s focus in recent years has been on entrepreneurship, science and technology, climate change, sustainability, global food security, and the rule of law. These are all important issues and challenges for our societies today.
The 75th anniversary of Fulbright in Italy is also a good time to talk about the future. Both the United States and Italy are committed to making the program even more inclusive and representative of the diversity found in both the United States and Italy. The Commission already has established partnerships in southern Italy to increase participation from underrepresented areas. The Commission also places Fulbright English teaching assistants in secondary schools to help expand opportunities for youth in those communities.
The United States will continue to support the Fulbright Program because we believe that it fosters an important exchange of talent and ideas. It allows Americans and Italians to learn and work side-by-side to shape our relationship and to find the best solutions to the challenges facing the world today. It makes the relationship between Italy and the United States stronger. Thank you.