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Cablegate: Ambassador Meets Cancelled Yes Program Participants

VZCZCXRO1192
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW
DE RUEHKA #0837 2380709
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 260709Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9364
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DHAKA 000837

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/INSB AND SCA/PPD
STATE FOR R AND ECA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EDU KPAO SCUL BG
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS CANCELLED YES PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS

REF: STATE 78726

Summary
------------

1. (U) The Ambassador and Public Affairs Officers met August 20 with
students and their parents to discuss the cancelled Youth Exchange
and Study (YES) program for 2009-2010 (reftel). The Ambassador
expressed disappointment that the program had been cancelled and
explained the situation with the placement organization that had
made this necessary. He then outlined the three options that ECA
will offer cancelled YES students. The Ambassador's outreach, along
with Washington's speedy decision to provide palatable options to
the affected students, turned a disappointing reversal into an
opportunity for positive engagement with the students, their
families and our audience in Bangladesh beyond.

Participants Disappointed but Determined
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (U) The seven YES student participants expressed disappointment
with the cancellation, but appreciated the opportunity to meet the
Ambassador and discuss their options. The students and parents
understood that the USG was working to resolve the situation by
allowing most students to defer participation until the next school
year or to take part in other short-term U.S.-based academic
programs in 2010. The placement organization, IEARN Bangladesh,
reports that of the seven cancelled students, five plan to defer
participation in YES until next year, one will take part in the
semester program starting in January 2010, and one plans on
attending the summer youth leadership institute next summer.

Host Family Placement, Applications and Visas
---------------------------- -----------------------------

3. (U) The students and parents raised several questions during the
meeting. First, some students wanted to know if they will be placed
with the same host families they were scheduled to be with this
year. (Note: Some of the students appear to have developed by
e-mail close relationships with their proposed host families for
this year.) We said that every effort was being made to do that but
could not make any guarantees at this point. Second, one student
asked whether students participating in the semester program could
extend their stay in the U.S. and be part of the summer program. We
explained that participation was limited to one program. Third,
students wanted to know if YES students need to reapply again in
next year's selection process. We explained that no further
application process was required. Finally, some expressed concern
that the cancellation of their visas would hurt future travel
opportunities. We assured the students and their parents that PA
was working closely with the Consular Section on this issue and that
the cancellation would not cause reflect negatively on them at all.

Comment
------------

4. (U) The Ambassador's initiative to meet cancelled YES
participants provided a constructive and cordial outlet for their
disappointment, an opportunity to discuss options, and the
engagement that is the hallmark of YES. More important,
Washington's speedily coming up with attractive alternatives
demonstrated that the U.S. had the best interests of the student
participants in mind and that the decision to cancel placements made
by the troubled organization was correct. Students and parents'
positive feedback confirmed that the Department is doing the right
thing by promising these students another exchange experience in the
U.S., a prudent goodwill investment that will benefit the reputation
of the U.S. in these cases and beyond.

MORIARTY

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