THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
State’s Convening Power
Helps Syrian Refugee
his is an unusual event for us,”
said Deputy Secretary of State
for Management and Resources Heather
Higginbottom, opening a Nov. 16 gather-
ing, “Bridging the Education Gap for
Refugee Children in Turkey,” at the
Department of State.
“In most cases, we host discussions or
conferences where we ask our partici-
pants simply to listen instead of problem-
solve,” she added. “But not today.”
The event—an initiative spearheaded
by the Office of Deputy Secretary of
State Antony Blinken in partnership
with the Bureau of Population, Refugees
and Migration—convened more than
100 leaders from government, interna-
tional financial institutions, nonprofit
organizations, education foundations,
tech companies and others to explore
solutions on how to provide roughly
400,000 school-aged Syrian refugee chil-
dren in Turkey with access to education.
Coming just days after the world had
witnessed horrific terror attacks in Bei-
rut and Paris, the meeting added a sense
of urgency to the challenge of prevent-
ing the disenfranchisement of an entire
generation of Syrian youth.
The United States, primarily through
PRM and USAID’s Office of Foreign
Disaster Assistance, has contributed
more than $4.5 billion in humanitar-
ian aid since the start of the civil war in
Syria. Turkey alone has received more
than $325 million in U.S. funding for its
humanitarian response to the crisis via
U.N. agencies and nongovernmental
organizations, including for the opera-
tions of schools.
Turkish officials and international
humanitarian aid organizations esti-
mate that of the 700,000 school-aged
To me the most important single quality of a diplomat is empathy,
which is not the same as sympathy; it simply means you understand.
You take great pains to understand where the other side is coming from.
If you’re trying to alter their behavior or adjust their behavior in ways that
are congenial to your own interests, you need to understand that side first.
Understanding requires a diplomatic presence; it requires reporting
officers to help us understand what’s going on in another country.
—Ambassador Robert Hutchings, at the Feb. 18 Book Notes event featuring his new book,
Foreign Policy Breakthroughs: Cases in Successful Diplomacy
(Oxford University Press,
2015). Watch the event atwww.afsa.org/video.
Syrian refugee children in Turkey, only
300,000 have access to education. Some
have likened the challenge of sending
the remaining children to school to hav-
ing to increase the capacity of New York’s
public school system—the largest in the
United States—by 50 percent within a
two- to three-year period.
Following remarks by Ali Ozturk,
adviser to the deputy prime minister of
Turkey who has responsibility for man-
aging the Syrian crisis response; Anthony
Lake, the executive director of UNICEF;
and Meighan Stone, president of the
Malala Fund, participants broke into
smaller discussion groups to brainstorm
Ideas flowed on how to build more
schools, arrange for basic transportation,
provide child protection and psychoso-
cial services, and offer vocational train-
ing to young adults.
Many participants commented
on how much they appreciated the
opportunity to expand their profes-
sional networks, and the department is
now following up on some of the day’s
The event mirrored a similar effort in
Turkey where the U.S. mission brought
together major U.N. organizations, NGOs
and private-sector institutions to identify
ways to collaborate on the delivery of
Perhaps such events, which lever-
age America’s convening power to find
solutions to today’s global challenges,
will soon become a hallmark of Ameri-
can diplomacy and development efforts
rather than an anomaly.
—Maria C. Livingston,
Director of Professional Policy Issues
Bridging the Gap
n January, the Carnegie Corporationgave an $840,000 grant to the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University’s “Bridging the Gap” initiative, with the goal of connect-
ing practitioners and theoreticians in the
world of international affairs.
The grant, titled “From Scholar’s
Theory to Practitioner’s Work, and Back,”
will promote diplomacy as a key interna-
tional policy tool.
To be shared by the Institute for the
Study of Diplomacy and the Mortara
Center for International Studies, the
grant monies will fund three major
“bridging the gap” pillars: (1) educa-
tion, by updating and expanding ISD’s