University of Iowa

People to People

November 24th, 2010

Last week in Washington, the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy held a Summit where over 600 people gathered to discuss the importance of citizen diplomacy–people to people efforts that reach out beyond our national borders to forge close ties between individuals and countries.  A partnership with the Department of State, the summit was tremendous in the energy it generated and the broad spectrum of interests it attracted, from business to education to aid and development organizations to individuals in the arts.  The Center aims to double the number of Americans currently engaged internationally, with the idea that citizen diplomacy can enhance public diplomacy.  Citizen diplomacy is defined as the voluntary involvement of individuals in programs and activities with people in other countries that leads to greater mutual understanding and respect.  Public diplomacy is understood to be activities and programs carried out under the auspices of the federal government.

Those of us who are involved in international education hope that the summit will generate enthusiasm for and participation in global engagement.  Citizen diplomacy can take place in any sector: business, education, the arts, and sports.  In the latter area, the Center announced an exciting partnership with the NFL Players Association through which the two organizations will partner to develop people-to-people networks around the world.  The Association will donate items for auction for the benefit of the Center; and the players hope to get the word out about American football globally and to help change the lives of those around the world who are in need.

In this time of giving thanks, I want to thank all those involved in the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy for their efforts to generate greater mutual understanding between Americans and people around the world.

Downing Thomas
Downing Thomas