The Last Three Feet

New Media, New Approaches, and New Challenges for Public Diplomacy

Two panels featuring veteran Public Diplomacy officers of the U.S. Foreign Service reflected on their experiences in explaining U.S. government policies and American society to audiences around the globe. In addition, they discussed lessons learned from these efforts in some of the world's most conflicted and complex societies. Part one of the event discussed image and information in the Muslim world. The second half focused on global youth outreach.

Distinguished guests included Dr. Walter Roberts, former head of the U.S. Information Agency, and Michelle Kwan, U.S. Olympic figure skating champion and Public Diplomacy Ambassador.

Keynote speaker: Thomas Shannon, United States Ambassador to Brazil

Panelists

  • Rachel Graaf Leslie, Public Affairs Officer at US Embassy Bahrain, spoke on the likely challenges of the "Arab Spring" to current & future U.S. PD efforts across the region.
  • Elizabeth McKay discussed Turkey's recent doubling of its budget for an experimental effort in new programming, largely in new media efforts, to engage young people in a country where polling data was lower than Palestine in terms of respect for USG policies.
  • Walter Douglas, Public Affairs Officer at US Embassy Pakistan
  • Aaron Snipe, Public Diplomacy Officer in Iraq. He developed a website where Iraqis could listen to his interviews in Arabic of fellow Arabic-speaking officers from different sections which centered on the particular sections' services to Iraqi.
  • Jean Manes, officer in Brazil. Discusssed 10 year-old exchange program aimed at 15-17 year old high schoolers in marginalized areas, a model is now followed in 19 countries around the world.
  • Bea Camp, former Consul General in Shanghai,spoke on successes and disappointments in mounting the 2010 Shanghai Expo and the difficulties of operating a program in China where any one level of government (local, regional or national) can throw a monkey wrench into long agreed-upon projects.
  • Michael Anderson spoke on setting up a high-tech American Center in Indonesia in upscale shopping malls.
  • Bruce Wharton, he Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of African Affairs, discussed the skills needed from newly minted PD officers, such as social entrepreneurship and tech savviness.

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