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JNCL-NCLIS Celebrates Re-Launch of America's Languages Caucus and New Bipartisan Co-Chairs


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


WASHINGTON, D.C, April 11th, 2024 – The Joint National Committee for Languages is pleased to announce the re-launch of the America’s Languages Caucus with the addition of new House Co-Chair, Representative Jen Kiggans (R-VA-2). Congresswoman Kiggans joins Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20) in this important leadership role to support multilingualism in the United States.


First-term Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) brings her previous experience with the Japanese language to her leadership in the Caucus. Prior to being winged as a Naval aviator in 1995, Congresswoman Kiggans traveled abroad to Japan and taught English for one year as a part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. During this time, she developed a strong admiration for the Japanese people, their language, and their culture. Congresswoman Kiggans later lived at Naval Air Station Atsugi as a military spouse for three years while her husband was forward deployed in Japan. Additionally, while in high school, Congresswoman Kiggans studied in Japan as a participant of the Youth for Understanding student exchange program. Notably, Virginia’s Second District includes the Virginia Beach Public School System, which is home to an innovative world language program and the recipient of two multi-year World Language Advancement and Readiness Program (WLARP) grants.


“As someone who taught English in Japan as a part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program and later lived there as a Navy spouse, I have a deep understanding and great appreciation for the critical role language education plays in the lives of countless Americans and our friends across the globe,” said Congresswoman Jen Kiggans. “I am excited to work alongside my colleague Congressman Panetta to advocate for legislation that will help American students learn additional languages and allow them to thrive in our increasingly connected world!”


“Expanding language skills and programs needs to be a bipartisan priority to keep our country competitive,” said Rep. Panetta. “I look forward to leading the America’s Languages Caucus alongside Rep. Kiggans to advocate for legislation and federal support to empower the next generation of multilingual leaders in the United States. Together, we will ensure students and professionals alike have the skills they will need to get ahead in our increasingly interconnected world.”


“We are thrilled to celebrate the re-launch of the America’s Languages Caucus. On behalf of the Board of Directors and our national team of advocates, I want to thank Congressman Panetta for his continued leadership of the caucus over the past 2 years. We are grateful that Congresswoman Kiggans will be partnering with him in leading the Caucus, and we look forward to working with her and her talented staff. said Amanda Seewald, JNCL-NCLIS Executive Director. “Together our America’s Languages Caucus leaders share a commitment to support the Caucus’s work to grow equitable language learning and international experience opportunities for all learners.


The America’s Languages Caucus was established in 2019 by Representative Price (D-NC-4) and Representative Young (R-AK) as a bipartisan effort to support and enhance foreign language competence and international education among students and professionals across the United States. In 2021 the Caucus became bicameral with the addition of Senate Co-Chairs Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The bipartisan, bicameral caucus is currently made up of 24 members of Congress.


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About JNCL-NCLIS: Established in 1972, the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) unites a national network of leading organizations and businesses comprised of over 300,000 language professionals to advocate for equitable language learning opportunities. Our mission is to ensure that Americans have the opportunity to learn English and at least one other language.



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