As August, and consequently summer, sadly comes to a close, the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy is back to round up some of this past month’s soft power events. The following selection highlights cultural exchange through community engagement in the globalized world. For the summer season, this interconnectedness means lots of festivals, so read on to see how diverse communities are coming together to celebrate around the world.
Welcome to the twelfth edition of the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy’s Soft Power: The Monthly Roundup, a feature that aims to explore unique cultural diplomacy initiatives from around the globe. With the temperatures peaking and summer in full swing, this post travels to nine cultural diplomacy events and celebrations that took place in the month of July:
In 2013, Meridian partnered with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to send mural artists abroad for the Community Engagement through the Mural Arts exchange program. While away, these artists were able to collaborate with local groups and artists in various community- based mural arts projects. Their goal: to create tangible pieces of artwork, while simultaneously fostering community engagement with the various populations of each country.
With s’mores ingredients and charcoal prominently displayed in supermarkets across the United States, summer is definitely in full swing. The change of seasons comes with an increase in activity, so for this month’s edition of Soft Power, the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy is showcasing eight events from around the globe that brought people together to encourage unexpected dialogue.
Today marks the 10th Annual Endangered Species Day in the United States. Various events taking place at zoos, aquariums, schools and protected areas across the country will recognize our national conservation efforts to protect America’s endangered species and their habitats. While the awareness events are domestic in nature, they also serve as worthwhile opportunities to bring attention to the heart-wrenching wildlife poaching and trafficking epidemic that is truly a global battle. Last year, over 1,200 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone. The western black rhino was declared extinct in 2013 and there is only one remaining male African white rhino. This estimated $20-billion-a-year market encompasses much more than rhinos and extends well beyond South Africa. According to a recent Washington Post article, there are less than 3,200 tigers in the wild; while over 100 million sharks are killed annually (shark fins are a delicacy used in soup throughout Asia).