people-to-people diplomacy

Inside the red-brick building that now houses the German capital’s newest and perhaps most unusual mosque, Seyran Ates is staging a feminist revolution of the Muslim faith. [...] The inaugural Friday prayers at Berlin’s Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque came to a close — offering a different vision of Islam on a continent that is locked in a bitter culture war over how and whether to welcome the faith. Toxic ills like radicalization, Ates and her supporters argue, have a potentially easy fix: the introduction of a more progressive, even feminist brand of the faith.

Native American Choctaw leaders have arrived in Ireland to unveil a sculpture celebrating the financial contribution made by the tribe to starving Irish people in 1847. At the height of Ireland's Great Famine, Choctaws in southern states of the USA sent a donation of $170 (£111). [...] A million people died in Ireland and another two million left the country when the potato crop failed for successive years, removing a vegetable that poor people ate every day. [...] The Choctaw people empathized with Ireland's famine victims.

I believe that a final, negotiated FY 2018 budget request for the State Department should include continued funding – if not a gradual increase – of what has been a relatively small amount of money allocated every year to the soft power of “cultural diplomacy.” Roughly defined as the use of an exchange of ideas, traditions, and values to strengthen relations and encourage engagement, cultural diplomacy is perhaps most easily seen in the use of music, arts, and sports to build cross-cultural understanding.

Former U.S. Ambassador Curtis S. Chin on the proposed funding cuts to cross-cultural programs.

On June 9, at Rike Park, diplomats celebrated the 25th anniversary of Georgian-Chinese bilateral relations. It was organized by international media holding GBTIMES Georgia and the Chinese Embassy in Georgia, and supported by Tbilisi City Hall. All day long visitors at Rike Park had the opportunity to see and purchase Chines goods, as well as attend master-classes of traditional martial arts, sample Chinese dishes, see Chinese costumes, as well as shows, exhibitions and concerts.

Attorney Tom Jennings said he was just looking to brush up on his Russian when he got involved in Citizen Diplomacy’s cultural exchange program in 1998. The Jennings have opened their home to more than three dozen visitors “and deal with many others,” said Tom.“The stories could go on forever, but the central theme is it’s an opportunity available to people in our area. Citizen Diplomacy is peacemaking at the retail level, one handshake at a time,” he said.

Since the beginning of the year, Japan’s official relations with the Korean Peninsula have gone from bad to worse.With South Korea, the past continues to plague the bilateral relationship.[...] Only last month did Tokyo return the Japanese ambassador to Seoul after he was withdrawn in January to protest a comfort women statue in Busan. [...] Yet one option to repair relations with South Korea, and perhaps even make some headway with North Korea, seems obvious if you are in Kansai: Use Japan’s Korean community as an unofficial diplomatic channel of communication.

The State Department’s Office of American Spaces has released its 2016 Annual Report, citing an 11% increase in the number of visits.

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