On December 8-9, I had the honor to engage 26 international visitors (IV) from Afghanistan in a leadership workshop during an exchange program coordinated by Meridian International Center entitled U.S. – China Training Programs for Afghan Cooperation and Reconstruction. This unique group was comprised of diverse key stakeholders from two distinct sectors of Afghan society: agriculture and public health. More specifically, the IVs representing agriculture were livestock specialists fighting animal diseases and the public health participants were specialists, doctors, and midwives safeguarding the health of women and newborns. Needless to say, this group embodied a diversity of backgrounds and...Continue
The Afghan Diplomats’ Training Program is an important example of the U.S.-China cooperation and represents a shared interest in the development and stabilization of Afghanistan. Newly appointed diplomats from the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs are welcomed on a two-part training program, spending two weeks each in the United States and the People’s Republic of China. In its fourth year, the program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Meridian International Center, in partnership with the Public Diplomacy Council, implements the U.S. portion of the program in Washington, DC and a long weekend in New York City.
Since the end of Taliban rule in 2001, Afghanistan has struggled with inter-ethnic and inter-religious violence, lagging economic development, endemic corruption and a lack of transparency, and a difficulty balancing the need for a strong central government with the desires of its very diverse population for self-government closer to home.
Cultural Diplomacy helps countries and their people to better understand each other at the most basic human level. Cultural elements – such as language, cuisine, art, and music – inform people’s identities around the world. Comprehending these leads to genuine interactions and fosters long-term friendships. By learning more about other cultures, we can gain new insights and build mutual respect with international and subnational partners. Culture is the neutral platform that creates an environment of trust and respect from which we can address difficult issues and seek common ground. Continue