Hi, everyone. As you know, I'm about to head off to South Korea through the Fulbright Scholarship program, which is significantly funded by Congress through an appropriation for the State Department every year. I'm writing publicly because the White House's proposed budget for 2018 would cut this funding by 47%, from $250 to $117 million. That may seem like a lot of money. But in perspective, $250 million is a little fraction (1.3%) of the NASA budget—which in turn is a little fraction (half of one percent) of the federal budget. So if you do the math, the Fulbright program is about 6.5 hundred-thousandths of federal spending for the year. Cutting it by half would be like cutting $0.33 out of $10,000 to try to save money. It won't do much.
What does the United States get for that $250 million every year? (Again, think of that as $0.65 out of a stack of $10,000.) We get tremendous amounts of international goodwill for relatively cheap. Schools across the world are really excited to get to host young Americans as English teachers. And if we want to preserve American influence around the world, it's in our best interest to encourage other countries' curiosity about English. We send thousands of Americans abroad to learn about other countries and bring their knowledge back into both the public and private sectors. And we bring thousands of scholars and students from other countries into the U.S., where they make friends with American teachers and classmates and teenagers and grandmas, and learn about our culture and values, and maybe that they're not so bad as what they see on the news. If you're looking for a way that America can continue to be a world leader without spilling a single drop of American blood, you could do worse than programs like the Fulbright program—and the Peace Corps, and any number of other goodwill programs run by the State Department.