14
Jul

Earlier this month, students from our current MIR intake organized a visit to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. Here is current MIR student Calvin Nguyen’s account of the visit.

Embassy visit

Through the initiative of MIR student Jose Miguel, students from the Master in International Relations and other interested IE students attended a special talk on July 1st at the United States Embassy in Madrid, Spain. The talk focused on the topic of Public Diplomacy featuring civil servant Vickery Sanchez and her experience while working with the Department of State in Washington D.C.

3pm that day, we began the process of entering the fortress-like U.S. embassy undergoing a very lengthy security screening process. Soon after, we were led into a room that reminded me of a miniature theater with comfortable sofas, classical chairs, and lazy boy armchairs. With the air conditioning blowing cooling us from the oppressive 40 C degree Madrid summer heat and being comfortably seated in the sofas and armchairs, the presentation began.

It was a great opportunity to learn about Public Diplomacy which is different than classical diplomacy between governments and larger organizations. Rather, Public Diplomacy is the government directly engaging with the people themselves.

Throughout the presentation, we saw an example of an action plan of the U.S. government about how it engages in Public Diplomacy with the world. Additionally, we learned about the way social media has changed the way the government engages with people and how it serves as a valuable tool in Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy.

I had always heard of and knew about the U.S. Fulbright program which students utilize as an opportunity to teach, to work, and to conduct research abroad. Originally, I had thought of it as a way to expose Americans to other cultures, but after the presentation, I now see it as a means of the U.S. government to spread soft power through the world.

Vickery also mentioned the importance of Foreign Service Officers working in Public Diplomacy abroad as a means to combat both disinformation and misinformation by helping to deliver accurate information and news, and to properly represent the views of the United States.

Overall, it was a very informative event and a nice break during the extremely hectic period of thesis writing. Specially organized talks and events like these provide a very nice change from the classical classroom learning environment.

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