Dear CHI Friends,
I know that many of you are anxious about the U.S. presidential election results – and the potential impact of Trump’s presidency on CHI AYP, Au Pair, Work & Travel, Internship and other programs. Every 4 years, Americans get an opportunity to choose a new President. They can re-elect the current President, too, but only one time. No U.S. President can serve more than two 4-year terms. We choose the Senators every 6 years and Congressmen (the Lower House) every 2 years. However, there is no limit on how many times they may be re-elected. Some foreigners see our voting campaign as a big circus – and it sort of is… but most Americans take voting very seriously. These are elections for the Federal Government. Every State also has its own elections for State offices and cities and counties have theirs. This Presidential election was very important, as it had two very different candidates. The Democrats had Hillary Clinton, an experienced professional politician with many years of experience. She was the Secretary of State under President Obama and also the Senator from New York. The Republican fielded a Candidate, Donald Trump, who had never won or held any elective office and his background is in building projects, managing real estate and participating in reality TV. It was a bitterly fought campaign and, against all expectations, Trump won.
Regarding the general impact on student exchanges, CHI has been here for 36 years. We went through Presidents Carter, Regan, Bush the Elder, Bush the Younger, Clinton and Obama – that is, the Democrats as well as the Republicans. For instance, CHI’s 10-year-long dramatic rise (from 1980 to 1990) reflected the economic growth during the Reagan administration (1980-1988). We went from 1,000 students in 1981 to 11,800 in 1987! It is also true that CHI must remain active and vigilant and cultivate our many friends in Congress. Activities, such as the J-Day, keep the American public aware of the good works of our organization. Over one million Americans have been involved as hosts in our programs since 1980. We can always tap their enormous PR power, should we need legislative help.
Specifically, regarding CHI, none of our programs are Federally funded. Moreover, we pay the Federal employees’ salaries, not the Federal government. (I am referring to the DoS staff that regulates us.) This means that CHI programs do not cost the U.S. taxpayers, nor the U.S. Treasury, a single cent! In short, there would be no benefit to the Government if they were to close down our organization.
It is true that Secretary Clinton has been favorably disposed to the exchange programs and President-elect Trump, never having held an office, is an unknown. He has, however, used H1B and SWT workers in his past and married a Czech (mother of Ivanka) and, currently, a Slovenian woman (mother of Barron)… One might say he has benefited handsomely from international exchange.
On a more serious note, I do not believe that the Trump presidency will impact CHI in any way. Our programs have been created by the Congress and only the Congress can limit or eliminate them. Our programs win friends for the United States and are a vital force in the U.S. Public Diplomacy efforts. From an international PR perspective, it would not look good for the Trump administration, if they were to stop it. While Trump has been talking about deporting illegal immigrants, all our students are completely legal, so none of you will ever be deported. In fact, no one with a valid U.S. visa will ever be deported by any administration.
CHI will therefore continue its worthwhile work today just as we have done yesterday, – just as we will tomorrow. We do it in friendship with you, your host families, host schools and businesses. We are not worried, so you need not be worried, either.
Now for the good news: Tomorrow we begin our four-day move to the new CHI World Headquarters! We should be in by next Monday. Please be patient during this transition. Beginning November 14, our new address will be: 255 West End Avenue, San Rafael, CA 94901…
Tom and Lilka Areton