Expand Your World

February 12, 2013

Michelle Kwan, 5-Time World Figure Skating Champion, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of State

Hi. I’m Michelle Kwan. One of the greatest things in my skating career is that I had a chance to meet people from all over the world. And when you spend time with people from other countries, your whole world expands. The great thing is you don’t have to be an Olympian to experience different cultures and meet new people. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your home town.

The U.S. Department of State brings tens of thousands of international leaders, professionals, students, and scholars to this country every year from more than 160 countries. Each exchange participant comes here to the United States, to communities large and small, to learn about our country from Americans just like you. Every participant on a State Department program creates an opportunity for you to get involved.

It’s as simple as meeting someone for coffee, picking them up from the airport, or hosting them for a traditional American dinner. Such a small gesture can mean so much. But they’re not the only one getting something out of it. For many Americans, this is a great opportunity, to bring the world to you, to get an insider’s perspective on places that you may never have even thought about visiting. Every connection you make plants a seed, and those seeds grow over time, both here and abroad.

In a world with too much conflict and misunderstanding, these connections, these friendships inspire us to think beyond the boundaries of our everyday lives. All it takes is being willing to open your life up to someone, if only for an hour. To find out about specific opportunities in your community, visit Exchanges.State.Gov/ExpandYourWorld.