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Commentary from Michael Murphy: When Americans show intolerance, the world takes notice

 

Commentary: When Americans show intolerance, the world takes notice

Just after World War II, Sen. J. William Fulbright saw a pressing need to "increase mutual understanding among the peoples of the world." By rare unanimous consent in Congress, the senator established in 1946 the Fulbright Program, one of the most important and long-lasting international exchange programs designed to lessen tensions that cause conflict and war.

One of the distinct pleasures we in the American Fulbright community have is an annual Thanksgiving dinner, at which visiting foreign scholars and students break bread with their American counterparts as part of our welcome of these exceptional visitors into our communities. This year was no exception in the Capital District, as Joan N. Savitt, associate director of the Office of International Education at the University at Albany, hosted approximately 40 scholars, faculty and students from myriad nations and cultures. These individuals represent the very best minds of their nations in such fields as medicine, education, public policy and diplomacy, to name a few. Approximately 40 of these individuals have even gone on to become political leaders of their respective nations.

The Thanksgiving event is usually a time for fellowship, camaraderie, and cultural interaction free from the pervasive problems of political discord. This year's, though, saw an added dimension: In discussion with a number of these extremely talented individuals, several individuals expressed fear about their reception here in the United States by American citizens.

Read the full announcement.