Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I wonder what they're actually thinking as public diplomacy "ambassadors"

The US pavilion at Shanghai has been panned (see recent editions of the Public diplomacy Press and Blog Review on the negative reactions). In what I suppose is the spirit of the Cold War days, when young people were a key "human" part of USG propaganda exhibits overseas, there are "student ambassadors" representing our country at Shanghai (see below), sent there perhaps in the hope (and on the cheap) of upgrading America's international reputation.

I wonder what these young people, supposedly bright and ambitious, are actually thinking about the national embarrassment -- the US pavilion at Shanghai -- in which they are taking part. Perhaps they could let the American public know.

Here's Hillary & pavilion "Commissioner" Villarreal about our young "ambassadors":

Remarks at Reception for the Opening of the USA Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, Ben Franklin Room, Washington, DC, April 30, 2010 - U.S. Department of State: "SECRETARY CLINTON: This is an extraordinary day to celebrate the opening of the Shanghai Expo and to share it with so many who it is literally true to say without whom this would not have been possible. ... And now, let me ask our Commissioner General to the 2010 World Expo you see there on the screen who has done such a wonderful job making sure that the Pavilion got built, got staffed, got into shape to be able to open. ... COMMISSIONER VILLARREAL: We are thrilled to be joining you from Shanghai. I don’t have to tell you how important this day is for China and the Chinese people as they celebrate the opening of World Expo. As you know, yesterday, we were privileged to receive President Hu Jintao at our pavilion. When I mentioned to President Hu and to Vice Premier Wang Qishan that you were hosting an event in Washington, D.C., contemporaneously with the Expo opening ceremonies, they expressed great appreciation. And in fact, while they were in our first area of – the welcoming area where we have this large sponsor wall with the names of all of the corporate sponsors, Vice Premier Wang Qishan motioned to the president to look at the wall. And the president made a point of mentioning how important all of these corporations are to China and so those of you who are sponsors should be very proud of that. Madam Secretary, I’m joined here by U.S. Consulate and Pavilion staff and some of our student ambassadors. The student ambassadors performed their first official ambassadorial duties yesterday by helping me welcome President Hu, and I must say they performed marvelously. Today, we received the president of Armenia and a delegation from Hunan. Tomorrow, it is the vice president of Columbia and the secretary of tourism of Mexico. We will also receive tomorrow a delegation of U.S. mayors from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Madam Secretary, your team here in Shanghai, including all of the student ambassadors, are committed to using all of our creativity and energy to fully leverage this very unique public diplomacy opportunity. My deputy commissioner general, Tom Cooney, who is the chief public affairs officer at the consulate, in describing this opportunity has said that there will be more Chinese visiting our pavilion in just six months than the entire China mission will see in more than 20 years."