American Diplomacy…

American Diplomacy…

Photo credit: U.S. Department of State

“I think I was invited for the gender diversity,” joked The Ambassador of Singapore Ashok Kumar Mirpuri who participated in the 80th Anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), at the National Museum of American Diplomacy. The event officially kicked-off the yearlong celebration that cultivates an open dialogue about how countries around the world can utilize ECA resources to increase cultural connections with the United States.

“Eighteen years ago when The Department of State and the United States started this program, it was a very different world,” he said. “Today we are connected to each other by social media, by technology. Eight years ago, unless you came to the United States personally, you really didn’t know anything about it. And yet programs like this remain very relevant even for someone coming today for them to have an opportunity to come here, visit small towns, cities around the United States to compare notes, exchange ideas. The programs remains relevant particularly with many of the global challenges that we face and I encourage the department to stick, to continue, this program and keep expanding it in order to create new opportunities for us to be here. Singapore and the United States share a very close relationship. This idea of people to people exchanges remains very critical for us in today’s world.”

The Ambassador of Singapore

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce hosted the event and gave opening remarks, introduced guests and unveiled the portraits.

“This morning I have three goals. First to continue to connect and convene the cultural attaches from embassies around Washington DC with my team so that we can share experiences. People are inspired through shared cultural endeavors. My second goal is to introduce you to some key contacts and resources available through the Department of State here in Washington DC and third to highlight the impact of the international visitor leadership program as we launch the 80th anniversary of our flagship professional exchange program.”

Marie Royce

“Today I have the privilege of revealing the first of the two faces you can see there,” she said while unveiling the portraits.  “First Margaret Thatcher: She served as Britain’s first female Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. Her confidence, resilience and uncompromising leadership style led her to reshape almost every aspect of British politics. Jacinda Ardern is the current Prime minister of New Zealand. She is the second face we are celebrating today.  She brought her country into international headlines with strong leadership, empathy and compassion after the Christ church shootings in March, 2019.”

For the past 80 years, the IVLP has connected current and emerging leaders from around the world to the United States through short-term exchanges. The program has grown to include over 225,000 alumni and continues to build vital linkages between citizens in the United States and emerging leaders throughout the world. Throughout 2020, 80 accomplished IVLP alumni and the impact their experiences brought to the global community will be showcased at:

The Ambassador of Albania

“In Eastern Europe, we had to think of ways how to change a communist one party system to a democracy and embrace the values of the West,” said  Floreta Faber, The Ambassador of Albania and featured speaker. “We had to develop from the scratch and build a new system of a market economy. We had to explain to people what it means that you have to go and pay taxes. Albanian people had decided they want a big change and a new society and learn how to do this.  We had  no idea where to start. Changes did not happen overnight. We build ties every day and we look forward to new highways which we will bring us together and closer.”

Kimberly Bassett, Secretary of Washington, DC and Marie Royce

The National Museum of American Diplomacy is the first and only museum dedicated to telling the story of the history, practice, and challenges of American diplomacy. No other institution is solely dedicated to this history envisioned as a 40,000 square foot world-class facility here at the Department of State.,” said Mary Kane, Director. “The museum showcases how American diplomacy has shaped our nation’s history and the global landscape from the founding of our nation. Visitors will learn how American diplomats help the United States gain recognition, promote national security, and become a worldwide economic power. It will be a reminder that diplomacy is a beacon that brings people together to advocate for a better life, not just for individuals but for communities and nations.”