The myriad of challenges which have been created and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected every one of us, no matter our geographic location, nationality, or age. Mountbatten Program and its related entities are no exception. As an organization created to sponsor international cultural and educational exchange we have been severely impacted by the virus and its consequences. This resulted in us having to postpone our March 2020 intakes and now, with the U.S. Presidential decree suspending the issuance of new J-1 trainee and intern visas until December 31, 2020, as well as the current travel ban to the United States, we have also had to put our September 2020 New York intake on hold. At this point our hope is that when the J-1 suspension ends, we will see a resumption of international exchange programs between the US, the UK, and other nations.
While our outlook is optimistic, we must also temper our expectations with a realistic assessment of the extent of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The long-term impact of this pandemic on the geopolitical environment is still being understood, it is so unlike anything we have faced in human memory. The British philosopher John Ruskin once said, ‘The healthy know not of their health…but only the sick.’ In this climate, particularly in the more affluent nations, our standard of living has made many people immune from truly considering the consequences of this virus. I urge all members of the Mountbatten community to take heed of the medical advice we are being given and listen to the words of that great American, Benjamin Franklin, when he pointed out that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!’
I am very happy to note that the pandemic has not dampened the enthusiasm of our prospective applicants, who are eager to experience New York and London and who are still interested in applying. Likewise, our host organizations confirm their support of the Mountbatten Program and the value and impact international exchange has on their businesses. They are keen to continue their partnership with Mountbatten when circumstances permit, and when we can offer safe and enriching opportunities for our participants. Over the 36 years of this organization’s existence we have survived many challenges in New York and London. This one may be more intractable and pose a greater global threat, but humanity has incredible resilience and adaptability. Those are the very qualities we strive to develop in our trainees and interns, and they are the qualities that will get us through.
Ambassador Paul Beresford-Hill, CBE