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Iraqi Attitudes, News Sources Explored at First Monday Forum

Iraqis taking photo with a phone

Iraqi women using a mobile phone to take their photo. (BBG.gov)

(27 June 2016). Two experts on public attitudes and media behavior in Iraq will examine changes in public opinion in that country, as well as ways people in Iraq get their news at the next First Monday Forum, 11 July 2016, at American Foreign Service Association in Washington, D.C.

Analyzing these issues are Diana Turecek, Director of Audience Research at Middle East Broadcast Networks, and Mohamed Younis, senior analyst for Middle East and North Africa at the Gallup Inc. Turecek joined Middle East Broadcast Networks in February 2012, after serving nearly four years as regional research manager for Middle East and Africa at InterMedia Survey Institute.

Younis is Gallup’s expert on the Middle East and North Africa, and also serves as a senior analyst for the Gallup World Poll. His research at Gallup focuses on employment challenges in the Arab world and relations between Muslim majority and Western societies. In addition, Younis leads a Gallup initiative on advanced analytics, integrating Gallup’s findings with external data sources.

First Monday Forums are a joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and Public Diplomacy Council. The event takes place on Monday, 11 July 2016 at 12 noon, at AFSA headquarters, 2101 E Street NW, Washington DC (Foggy Bottom metro). Sandwiches and refreshments will be served.

The event is free, but advance registrations by e-mail are required: FirstMondayForum.RSVP@gmail.com.

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Carter-Era Public Diplomacy History Released

John Reinhardt and Walter Mondale

John Reinhardt, right, after being sworn in as Director of the International Communication Agency by Vice-President Walter Mondale. (Department of State)

(12 June 2016) Department of State on 8 June released its official history of public diplomacy during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, 1977 to 1980. The volume covers the merger of U.S. Information Agency with State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in 1977, and establishment of International Communication Agency in 1978.

According to a statement from the Department, the work …

illustrates the varied efforts of USIA/ICA to conceptualize and administer a vast array of cultural initiatives and programming, including film and television programs, exhibits, and international conferences. Of note is the high-level documentation of USIA/ICA Director John Reinhardt, a former Ambassador who served in both USIA and the Department of State, and his efforts to engage with the USIA/ICA community during a time of transition. It also focuses on the Department of State’s public diplomacy efforts, notably people-to-people, cultural, and educational exchanges.

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977–1980, Volume XXX, Public Diplomacy is available for download as an e-book from Department of State.

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Amb. John Reinhardt Burial Set for 7 June

Amb. John E. Reinhardt

Amb. John E. Reinhardt (Wikimedia Commons)

The family of the Ambassador John Reinhardt says his burial will occur on Tuesday, 7 June 2016 at Arlington National Cemetery. Participants are invited to join the family at 8:00 am at Arlington cemetery’s administrative building. He died on 18 February in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Amb. Reinhardt was named director of U.S. Information Agency by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 and led the agency to its larger role under a new name: U.S. International Communications Agency. The expanded agency included cultural exchange functions performed at State Department. Under President Ronald Reagan, the agency’s name reverted to U.S. Information Agency, but the expanded functions remained.

Amb. Reinhardt was the first career diplomat to lead the agency. John Reinhardt was named U.S. ambassador to Nigeria by President Nixon and later served as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. He joined the foreign service after receiving a doctorate in American literature from University in Wisconsin, and teaching at Virginia State College in Petersburg. Before being named ambassador, he served in Philippines, Japan, and Iran, as well as USIA’s assistant director for Africa and East Asia.

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British Council Model Examined in First Monday Forum

Paul Smith

Paul Smith (Philip Bermingham, British Council USA)

(29 May 2016). Paul Smith, director of the British Council in the U.S., will discuss the council’s work and how it can serve as a model for other countries in their international cultural relations, at the next First Monday Forum, on 6 June 2016, at American Foreign Service Association in Washington, D.C.

Smith became director of British Council USA in August 2012, where he also serves as Cultural Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. He previously served in Afghanistan beginning in 2010, and at other postings on five continents. Smith is an outspoken advocate for the key role of humanities in individual development as well as the basis for cultural relations between countries. His writings appeared in the New York Times and Guardian newspapers, as well as online  at Huffington Post.

First Monday Forums are a joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and Public Diplomacy Council. The event takes place on Monday, 6 June 2016 at 12 noon, at AFSA headquarters, 2101 E Street NW, Washington DC (Foggy Bottom metro). Sandwiches and refreshments will be served.

The event is free, but advance registrations by e-mail are required: FirstMondayForum.RSVP@gmail.com.

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Mal Whitfield Memorial Service Set

Mal Whitfield in 1948

Mal Whitfield, no. 136, running in the 1948 Olympics. (Courtesy, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Washington, D.C.)

(17 May 2016) A memorial service for U.S. Information Agency sports and youth officer Malvin Whitfield is set for Wednesday, 8 June. In addition to his work for USIA, Mr. Whitfield was an Olympic gold medalist in 1948 and 1952, and a Tuskegee Airman during World War II. He died on 19 November 2015 at a veterans’ hospice in Washington, D.C.

The memorial service is scheduled for 10:00 am on Wednesday, 8 June at Washington National Cathedral, followed by burial at Arlington National Ceremony. Buses will leave Washington National Cathedral about 2:00 pm for Arlington Cemetery, with the burial taking place about 3:00 pm. Buses will return to the cathedral following the burial.

Mr. Whitfield won two gold medals in the 1948 games in the 800 meters and as part of the 4 x 400 meter relay team. He repeated his 800 meter gold medal victory in 1952. Beginning in 1955, Mr. Whitfield conducted sports clinics for State Department and USIA, which continued for 30 years. In this capacity, he visited some 130 countries, with most of his clinics in Africa.

In November and December 2015, many former colleagues posted their memories of their experiences with Mr. Whitfield on Public Diplomacy.org.

Hat tip: Neal Walsh

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2016 PDAA Award Winners Demonstrate Creativity in Challenging Environments

Milica Raskovic and Marko Bumbic

Milica Raskovic, right, and Marko Bumbic are among the winners of the 2016 Awards for Excellence in Public Diplomacy, from PDAA (Courtesy American Corner, Novi Sad, Serbia)

(16 May 2016) Promoting the growth of media and ensuring the safety of journalism is challenging throughout the Middle and Near East, and nowhere more so than in Afghanistan.  Yet Tanya Brothen, U.S. Embassy Kabul Assistant Information Officer, showed “extraordinary creativity, diplomacy, and tenacity, in bringing the documentary film Frame by Frame to premiere in Afghanistan at the U.S. Embassy Kabul, an initiative that influenced efforts to legislate protections for media practitioners and foster a free press in Afghanistan.”

Joining Tanya as winners of the 2016 PDAA Awards for Excellence in Public Diplomacy are Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli in Libya External Office, Public Affairs Officer Brenda Soya at Embassy Ouagadougou and Coordinator Milica Raskovic and Program Coordinator Marko Bumbic, both at the American Corner in Novi Sad, Serbia. The awards were announced by PDAA at its annual awards event on 15 May 2016.

Brothen has been “a champion for Afghan media,” wrote Information Officer Susan Doman, who nominated her for the award. Her efforts to convince the filmmakers and participants of a documentary about press freedom in Afghanistan, Frame by Frame, to screen the film within the country for President Ghani, other government officials, journalists and civic leaders led not only to vigorous debates but, arguably, to a decree issued by Ghani two days after one of the screenings calling for efforts to ensure the safety of journalists.

A trailer for Frame by Frame is below.

FRAME BY FRAME official trailer from RED REEL on Vimeo.

Creating robust social media outreach

Stephen Ibelli in the Libya External Office has had the challenging task of promoting the U.S. presence in conflict-ravaged Libya, but working from Tunisia.  With over 80 percent of Libyans getting their news from Facebook, Ibelli revamped the embassy’s Facebook site, making sure that every posting was in both Arabic and English.

His citation reads: “For exceptional analysis, innovation, and single-handed hard work in creating robust social media outreach that engaged Libyans on U.S. policy and culture, established contact with a new generation, and reestablished exchange programs, all while working under the extreme challenges of a post in exile outside the host country.”  

Ibelli began featuring websites of individuals and organizations helping their communities in Libya. He taught himself to film and edit videos and posted photos, videos and press interviews on the illicit trafficking in Libyan antiquities and the risks facing Libyan archeologists. His video of a successful Libyan-American woman entrepreneur reached 714,000 viewers – in a country of 6 million, Deputy Chief of Mission Helen LaFave, wrote in nominating Ibelli.  The Facebook site is gaining 10,000 new fans per week, she said.

Ibelli also convinced the State Department to restart the suspended International Visitor Leadership program, the MEPI Student Leaders Program, and several scholarship exchanges and is using Facebook engagement to recruit candidates. “Stephen leveraged social media to build the people-to-people connections which had been lacking in the U.S.-Libya relationship during forth years of Libyan dictatorship,” LaFave wrote.

Getting embassy staff out of the bubble

U.S. Ambassador Tulinabo Mushingi says he told PAO Brenda Soya that he wanted to get outside the Embassy fortress and outside Ouagadougou to connect with the Burkinabe, exchange alumni, government officials and others and to build “the image of an Ambassador as someone who knows Burkina well enough that I could deliver difficult messages without offending people.”

Soya’s 2016 citation reads: “For greatly improving the image of the United States in Burkina Faso through a monthly series of American Road Shows that got the Ambassador and other embassy staff “out of the bubble” and introduced U.S. policy and culture to Burkinade in every part of the country.” 

Over two years, Soya put together 29 “American Road Show” trips engaging all elements of Burkina society to improve the way its citizens view the United States.  In 2015, Mushingi said he used the Road Shows to advocate participation in elections and urge the population to be patient as the new government set its priorities, to promote community health programs and education for girls.  Mushingi said that Soya’s “comprehensive, meticulously planned, media-focused outreach visits made me, as Ambassador – and by extension the Embassy – accessible and credible.”

Brenda Soya and student

Brenda Soya, left, dancing with a student at a school for the deaf during the Arts Envoy program (U.S. Embassy, Ouagadougou)

American values of volunteerism and community initiative

Rounding out PDAA’s 2016 award winners are Milica Raskovic and Marko Bumbic whose extensive programming initiatives — more than 50 each month — in an environment where only 20 percent of the population have a favorable attitude toward the United States has become a role model for American Corners throughout the region, says nominator William Henderson, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade.

Their citation reads:“For directing an exemplary American Corner program in Novi Sad focused on the American values of volunteerism and community initiative, including a highly effective donation drive to aid tens of thousands of migrants crossing Serbia in summer and fall 2015.”

Raskovic and Bumbic have spearheaded programming that has highlighted the importance the United States has put on volunteerism and community initiatives and on citizens taking personal responsibility for the well-being of their neighborhoods and communities.  With more than 6,000 members and over 100 volunteers, the Novi Sad American Corner has set up mini corners at major public events, initiated a multi-module business English workshop for the unemployed, and offered a book delivery service to the elderly and housebound.

As tens of thousands of migrants began to enter Serbia, the Center organized a donation drive to benefit the refugees collecting, sorting, transporting and distributing over 800 pounds of clothing, food and hygiene items.  The Corner also launched the first authorized TOEFL – teaching of English as a foreign language — testing center in Novi Sad.

Raskovic and Bumbic tell what the award means to their work in the following video.

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