U.S. Alumni: was your exchange program an unforgettable, life-changing experience? Would you be willing to encourage more Americans to have the same kind of transformational experience you had?

The number of Americans participating in overseas programs is still very low. In fact, less than 2% of enrolled U.S. university students participate in study abroad programs, despite our increasingly interconnected world and shared challenges that are growing more global in nature. We need more Americans with language skills, cultural sensitivity, and a global education to be able to find solutions to international conflicts, from terrorism to protection of the environment. We believe in the transformative impact that international exchange programs have on people like you, which is why the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs gives more than 10,000 Americans each year opportunities to participate in international exchange programs.

We are now challenging YOU to play a role in encouraging more Americans to take advantage of these types of opportunities by telling the world about the innumerable benefits of international exchange.

Whether you are a student, a teacher, an athlete, an artist, or a professional, you have a story to tell about how international experiences have changed you or your community for the better. It's time share that story and inspire other Americans to go abroad!


How Can I Participate?

This year, we are offering three ways to participate in the U.S. Citizen Diplomacy Challenge. You can choose your favorite or participate in all three for a chance to win a professional development trip to Washington D.C. and other exclusive prizes!

  • Instagram Photo and Caption Challenge: Upload your most inspirational original study abroad photo that showcases the value of international exchange to Instagram. The photo caption should finish this sentence: '#StudyAbroadBecause ______.'
  • Share your Story Challenge: Write your study abroad story! Share a brief, compelling personal narrative that demonstrates the benefits of international exchange and would inspire more people to go abroad.
  • Back to School Challenge: Go "back to school" in order to give presentations to students on what participating in an exchange program meant to you and share information about relevant U.S. government-sponsored exchange opportunities.

All three challenges open on September 27, 2016 EDT and close at 5 PM EDT on November 18, 2016.


Participants in all three challenges are eligible to win the following fantastic prizes:

  • Grand Prize: Five grand prize winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC for exclusive professional development opportunities and events. Past winners had opportunities to tour behind the scenes at the State Department, speak one-on-one with high level government officials about issues and causes that interest them, speak with journalists at a local press conference, visit other government agencies such as the U.S. Institute of Peace and Peace Corps, and more.
  • Second Place: Second place winners will receive a congratulatory call or video message from a relevant high-level U.S. official and/or prominent U.S. alumna or alumnus in their field. For example, a past winner who is a Fulbright alumna working in the medical field had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the State Department's Special Representative for the Office of Global Health Diplomacy.
  • Third Place: Third place winners will receive a gift bag containing State Department and exchange program materials (t-shirt, mug, water bottle, etc.)

All winners will receive global recognition and promotion of their work on U.S. Department of State media channels. In addition:

  • Photo contest winners will have their work displayed at the State Department with a short biography and the photo caption.
  • Story winners will have their work featured on the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Assistant Secretary's Huffington Post blog and on various State Department media channels.


All U.S. citizens who have completed a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program prior to the close of the competition and are over the age of 18 years old on the date of entry are eligible to participate in the U.S. Exchange Alumni Citizen Diplomacy Challenge.

Note: In order to be eligible for the grand prize, contestants must reside in the United States and the ticket to Washington, DC must originate from a domestic U.S. destination.

Log in to submit your entries for CDC 2016
Instagram Photo and Caption
Share Your Story
Back to School