Treasures of New York


Treasures of New York: Institute of International Education

Treasures of New York: Institute of International Education traces the history of this distinguished organization, shedding light on its major accomplishments over the past hundred years to promote international education and empower the global exchange of ideas.

AIRED: February 28, 2019 | 0:26:54


>> There is a wise saying

"It is better to travel

10,000 miles than to read

10,000 books."

The student who truly wants to

understand the world must go out

and experience it firsthand.

>> No education is complete,

I believe, without some

education outside of your

comfort zone and your home


>> But who connects students

with opportunities to study


And who can secure international

scholarship in an increasingly

unstable world?

>> Study-abroad international

education is not the dream

of just the few, but it is

the dream of the many.

>> This is the story

of the Institute of

International Education --

a New York-based nonprofit

making a global impact.

>> We are very much about using

education as a public diplomacy


>> For 100 years, I.I.E. has

helped thousands of students,

rescued hundreds of imperiled

teachers, and set the course

for a brighter future.

>> You're planting the seeds

of good citizens,

of good immigrants,

of good students who will have

an enormous impact in the world.

>> Witness the legacy of this

remarkable organization

as it celebrates a century

of international cultural

exchange and diplomacy

in "Treasures of New York:

Institute of

International Education."

Funding for this program

has been made possible by...



From her lab at University

of California, Irvine,

neuroscientist Amal Alachkar

studies disorders that afflict

all of humankind.

>> Trying to find the biological

basis of these disorders,

such as depression,

schizophrenia, autism, because,

currently, we don't have very

good treatments for psychiatric


>> Someday she hopes to discover

cures for these diseases.

But not long ago, her future

as a scientist and educator

nearly vanished.

[ Men shouting indistinctly ]

Dr. Alachkar was a professor

in her native Syria when war

launched the nation into chaos.

>> I was among the few faculty

who spoke out in the beginning

of the revolution, and then,

in a few days, I was

interrogated in my workplace

in the School of Pharmacy.

The message was clear to me.

"We let you go this time,

but be careful because

we are watching you."

But I thought if I stay there,

by now for sure I would have

been arrested and killed

for sure.

>> She turned to the Institute

of International Education,

a New York-based nonprofit

that helps rescue imperiled


>> When I learned that I can

apply to the Scholar Rescue Fund

by the I.I.E., it was, "Wow" --

just like now there is a window

of hope, of light that opened.

>> Rescuing scholars like

Dr. Alachkar is one of many

ways that the Institute

of International Education

has shaped academia

over the last century.

As a leading educational

nonprofit, I.I.E. builds

partnerships and raises money

to create opportunity

for teachers and students

all around the world

with a mission to achieve

international peace.

>> I think through education

not only lies the key

to technological discoveries,

but we will find a way for

nations to stop going to war

against each other and people

to stop killing each other.

Education is the best thing

we've ever invented to try

to solve humanity's problems

and assure its future.

>> In order to understand

and deal and address and help

create a better society,

we need our students

to understand other cultures,

and no education is complete,

I believe, without some

education outside of your

comfort zone and your home


>> Education does not mean

you'll agree always, but you

have common language to agree

and disagree, and this was one

of the hopes of all educators

that with understanding,

you can solve differences

and build alliances.

>> At its core, I.I.E.

is a clearinghouse for

international exchange,

opening doors across the globe

so that scholars may see

the world in a new light,

managing over 200 academic

exchange programs in more

than 185 countries

and impacting countless lives

year after year.

While I.I.E. is a global

organization, it operates

largely behind the scenes.

>> I.I.E. is the best-kept

secret among 501(c)(3)s

not only in the great city

of New York, but maybe

in the world.

We spent a lot of time rescuing

scholars, helping students

in distress, doing programs

that are designed to help

women and girls in places

where life isn't so good

for them.

We are very much about using

education as a public diplomacy

tool to make the world a better


>> From its headquarters

just across the street

from the United Nations,

I.I.E. carries out a lofty


>> We were founded to create

world peace, and that's

a direction we should always

be headed in.

>> As a reminder of I.I.E.'s

role in charting the course

for international education,

Allan Goodman keeps a rather

unique collection of antique

compasses in his office.

>> Compasses are always pointing

in one direction, and I'm always

asking myself am I pointing

in the directions of widening

educational opportunities?

And I believe that any problem

that exists today and any

problem that will exist

tomorrow, education is gonna be

central to its solution.

If the education only speaks

English, if it only studies

inside its books and borders,

we're not gonna solve that




>> The Institute of

International Education

was born when the world

was on the brink of catastrophe.

World War I, known as the war

to end all wars, left Europe

in shambles and America

reluctant to open its borders.

Amid the din of postwar

isolationism, three men came

together to promote the value

of foreign exchange --

Columbia University President

Nicholas Murray Butler,

former Secretary of State

Elihu Root,

and College of the City

of New York Professor,

Stephen Duggan.

They received a grant of $30,000

from Carnegie Corporation

of New York to create I.I.E.

and got straight to work.

>> When the war ended,

we almost immediately started,

and everything we've done

was a surprise.

We thought we would be

a clearinghouse for existing

educational opportunities

to study abroad.

Turned out we had to invent

opportunities so that people

would study abroad 'cause

everyone was coming back

from the war and nobody wanted

to go abroad again.

>> During the 1920s, I.I.E.

inaugurated foreign-exchange

programs between universities

in the United States

and dozens of other countries.

They published some

of the first reference guides

to international study...

lobbied the U.S. government

to issue academic exchange


and hailed the introduction

of third-class student passage

on transatlantic steamships.

Meanwhile, a crisis in Russia

brought a new focus

for this young organization.

>> By the end of 1920,

Russian scholars were fleeing

the Bolshevik Revolution,

and they reached us by mail

and telephone and said,

"There's no place for us

in Europe.

Is it possible to come

to America to study

and to teach?"

And so we almost immediately --

not planning for it --

got in the business of helping

displaced scholars and students,

and we did this through

the Bolshevik Revolution,

the Russian Civil War,

the Spanish Civil War,

the Nazis, the Soviets.

>> By the early 1930s,

as Nazism spread across Europe,

I.I.E. stepped in once again

to save as many scholars

as it could.

I.I.E. formed a committee

to bring primarily Jewish

academics out of Europe,

rescuing them and their

knowledge from what would become

one of the worst human massacres

in history -- the Holocaust.

>> The invention of the MRI

dates to a scholar we rescued

from the Nazis, and I always

wonder what would have happened

if he had perished like so many

others had perished.

Great literature comes from

people that are professors

that get rescued.

You almost wonder if Thomas Mann

would have written all of his

books had we not been able

to rescue him.

>> One of the unsung heroes

of this rescue effort

was a recent college graduate

who began his career at I.I.E.

His name was Edward R. Murrow.

>> Edward R. Murrow was, by far,

the leading American broadcaster

of his generation.

He started, however,

at the Institute of

International Education

and rose to be our

Assistant Director and

was very active in connection

with our work with

the Emergency Committee in Aid

of Displaced Foreign Scholars.

Some 330 scholars were rescued

from various European countries

thanks to the good work

of Ed Murrow and others.

>> In the decades following

the war, I.I.E. would continue

to help foreign professors

and students in times of need.

But their expertise in

study-abroad programs

was also rising.

In 1946, the U.S. government

passed legislation introduced

by Senator J. William Fulbright

of Arkansas to create an

international exchange program

run through

the Department of State.

They turned to I.I.E.

for administrative support.

>> We'd been doing scholarship

selection for a relatively

long time, and that built

a partnership of trust, I think,

between the Department of State

and I.I.E. that has endured

solidly to this day.

>> They're executing these

programs on the ground.

They're working closely with us

at the universities.

They're working with

the private sector,

and they help work with other

governments, and so they're

a very, very strong partner.

>> Over its 70-year history,

the Fulbright Program

has sponsored nearly 400,000

American and foreign

participants and today is

considered one of the most

competitive and prestigious

scholarships in the world.

Alumni include cultural icons

like composer Aaron Copland,

author John Steinbeck,

opera star Renée Fleming,

along with innovators credited

with important scientific


and numerous world leaders.

>> The people who are attracted

to it are gonna be the leaders

in their country -- numerous

heads of state who have been

Fulbright scholars,

numerous Nobel Prize recipients

who have been

Fulbright Scholars.

>> But it's not just, you know,

world leaders.

It's also those individuals

that go back to their countries.

They talk about what they've

seen, the values -- everything

from being able to have freedom

of speech to an open press,

and it's just been

transformative for people,

and so, consequently,

it really makes the world

a much closer place, and,

of course, a more peaceful

and secure world.

>> Over the years,

the U.S. State Department

continued to invest in academic

exchange and partner with I.I.E.

in administering federal


>> We're privileged to work

with the Department of State

and also the Department

of Defense in their major

scholarship programs,

and they value internationalism,

they value language,

they value studying each other's


>> Another premier scholarship

program bears the name of

New York Congressman

Benjamin Gilman, whose 30-year

career in Washington centered

around foreign affairs.

>> He was an individual

who was passionate about

foreign affairs and

international relations.

You know, we always say that

what he did with foreign affairs

politically, politics and party

goes out of the window.

>> The prestigious

Gilman Scholarship is available

to college students who receive

federal financial aid, allowing

those who might not otherwise

have the opportunity to study

abroad to embark on an adventure

of a lifetime.

>> Having someone who may not

have had the opportunity

to go study abroad, to learn

and to interact with other

people is tremendous because

they bring what they learn

back home, and they share that

with people in the community,

and that then spreads throughout

the community and to other

young people.

>> Through its scholarship

programs, I.I.E. has impacted

tens of thousands of American

students like Allie Surina.

>> I am an alum of three

programs administered by

the Institute for

International Education --

the Benjamin A. Gilman

International Scholarship,

the Critical Language


and the Fulbright U.S.

Student Scholarship.

>> As an undergraduate student

earning financial aid,

Surina never imagined being able

to afford study abroad.

But with these scholarships,

she spent years studying

math education in China.

Not only did she return home

with more knowledge to pursue

a career in data science,

but, she says, her experiences

abroad transformed her

into a global citizen.

>> I think the difference

between before these experiences

came into my life and now, what

has changed me most is this

feeling of taking responsibility

for the world.

You realize that wherever you

go, you're representing people,

and you're reaching out

to people.

You're culturally engaging


When I came back to

the United States, I didn't stop

culturally engaging people.

I didn't stop looking

for cultural understanding,

trying to build relationships.

So I've carried that with me,

and it's changed my life.

>> Suddenly, you have this

opportunity to study abroad,

and it's telling us that

study-abroad international

education is not the dream

of just the few, but it is

the dream of the many,

and that government programs

like the Gilman Scholarships

have a major role to play

in lighting the fire,

generating the interest,

making it possible,

and that's building a pipeline

for the future, and it's

building a pipeline in places

that 100 years ago

we didn't think we could.

>> Thanks in part to

the scholarships and research

that I.I.E. has spearheaded

over the last century,

international exchange

is a common fixture

of higher education.

Today approximately one in 10

American college students

now participate in study abroad,

and in 2018, American

universities opened their doors

to over one million foreign


>> This is something where

the United States makes

an investment.

It is truly the gift

that keeps giving

because you are training

American citizens to be citizens

of the world.

>> You look at an object,

and you can say that's worth

"X" amount of dollars.

Well, the value of educating

a person, particularly

internationally and others,

it might cost $2,000,

but the value is far, far

greater than that.

>> I could almost say that

student exchange is part of our

security and identity

as a nation, and it gives you

some kind of an opening

to say,

"Hey, we're all human beings."

I cannot emphasize enough

how important these exchanges




>> I.I.E.'s exchanges open doors

and open minds all around

the world, and the organization

reaches an even higher level

of impact through its work

in rescuing scholars.

>> The sad lesson of history

is that academics are targeted

in every war.

They're hurt in every civil war.

They're displaced after

every conflict, and the world

loses a lot if you don't realize

that you have students and

scholars that need to be cared


And if we don't take care

of their needs, as well,

we'll end up with a lost


>> In 2002, I.I.E. established

a special endowment to ensure

that it could protect future

generations of scholars in need.

>> We are the only global fund

that rescues scholars

from anywhere in the world

and places them anywhere

in the world.

>> Since establishing this fund,

I.I.E. has raised money

to relocate nearly 800 scholars

who have been threatened by war,

natural disaster, or political


>> I have been so impressed

by the really amazing work

that has been done by I.I.E.

in rescuing scholars

when you think what would have

happened not just

to the scholars, but all their

knowledge, all their work

that now has been a major

contribution to people


>> You're rescuing a kind of

future -- future of those

countries for them and for us.

It's not a charitable act alone,

it's solidarity act.

>> I.I.E. has recently turned

its attention towards

the Middle East as the civil war

in Syria has displaced hundreds

of thousands of students.

>> As I was finishing up

my fourth year in school,

my father got detained by

the Assad regime, and I had just

arrived to the States

to do summer school before,

and so due to his detention,

I couldn't return back home,

and I couldn't -- So I couldn't

finish my undergrad degree,

and, after that, my education

was interrupted for a little bit

over a year, and during that

year as I was seeking political

asylum in the state and

surviving, I was also looking

for opportunities to continue

my interrupted education,

and this is when I encountered


I think of it as

a transformative point

in my life, and, basically,

this opportunity enabled me

to be empowered enough to have

the tools, the language,

the thinking,

the intellectualities that have

actually enabled me now

to become a more active citizen.

>> After earning their degrees,

some rescued scholars are now

reaching out to the next


>> Welcome, welcome.

I didn't know that you would

have this.

[ Laughs ]

Every one of us wanted to do

something, wanted to do

something for Syria.

We had this drive and this

passion, and we just wanted

to help.

We knew that we're in

a position of privilege,

and we have to pay back --

to recruit and work with bright

students to getting them

from where they are right now

into good schools

in the United States.

Education is very valuable

because it's the only way out,


You're planting the seeds

of good citizens,

of good immigrants,

of good students who will have

an enormous impact in the world,

and I.I.E. put that seed in us.

>> In recent years, I.I.E.'s

rescue efforts have extended

beyond academic scholars,

helping dissident artists,

as well.

>> Using the technology,

if you will, developed by

the Scholar Rescue Fund

over the years, although still

in a relatively nascent stage,

is off to a wonderful beginning

in getting artists out of their

home countries and into safer

places to havens where they

can continue their work.

>> [ Voice breaking ] What is

happening with me?

Why are they keeping me here?

My name is Silvanos Mudzvova.

I am a performing arts activist

from Zimbabwe.

I create a play.

I titled it "In Chains,"

and everyone is, like, looking.

I was arrested after about

seven minutes of performing.

So then they took me

and they tortured me.

What do you want me to do?



Am I'm going to be beaten?

I'm now a Fellow

at University of Manchester

courtesy of

the Artistic Protection Fund.

Creative dissent is one of

the ways, actually, for me

to actually believe that we can

do more.

It's using the arts for

achieving change in the world.

>> From protecting imperiled

artists and scholars

to creating opportunities

for international exchange,

I.I.E. preserves education

in every form wherever

it is needed most.

>> Education is the cornerstone

in any change.

So, if you want, really, to make

big change in society, any

social movement, it should start

with education.

>> The alternative to education

is violence and tribalism.

We stop that from happening

every day with our programs.

We're not doing enough, but

we're doing everything we can.

>> You know that this

educational opportunity

is gonna make a difference

to somebody's life,

and you play a role in that

whether you're getting them

the stipend check,

or the air ticket,

or helping them

when they need help.

And when you think about

the individual impact,

you suddenly realize

it's not just one person

you're helping.

It could be a whole village.

It could be hundreds, if not

thousands of future students.

It could be somebody

that you help today that wins

a Nobel Prize 10 or 15 years now

for discovering a cure

to a disease that inflicts us


So, we think of this work

as the best investment any of us

have to make the world

less dangerous.

>> It's easy to talk about our

space program or our missile

program and say, "Hey, in these

kind of programs, those are

the programs that make us safe."

>> In 2019, I.I.E. celebrates

100 years of promoting

international education

and charts a course

into the next century

with a resolute vision.

>> So I take my compasses

into today's climate and say

we just have to be pointed

at keeping academic doors open.

We have to be pointed at helping

displaced students and rescuing


The needs only grow.

These programs are needed more

than ever, and what our

contribution is, staying on

course, and also thinking

every day about how to do it

better, how to reach more

people, how to make it possible

for more Americans to have

a passport and want to use

that passport to see the world

that we share and be our

ambassadors to the world.

>> Whether they come from

America or a country thousands

of miles away,

the students who participate

in I.I.E.'s programs,

the scholars who are rescued

by its philanthropy

receive the greatest gift

that international education

can offer --

the opportunity to exchange

knowledge and language...

space to build lifelong

friendships and alliances...

safe havens to continue

important research...

and the foundation to build

a more peaceful world.


Funding for this program

has been made possible by...









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