us department of state

When you think about diplomacy and the U.S. State Department, you probably don’t think about jazz singers or pop idols. Yet cultural, and specifically musical diplomacy, is not a new phenomenon – way back in the 1950s Louis Armstrong was described as America’s most effective ambassador. What American diplomats could not do, the New York Times said, Armstrong and his jazz music managed to do.

Lee Chizmar had to tell a story about his piece of America – namely the Lehigh Valley -- but he wasn’t using words or pictures in his performance space. He was using the real thing – local farm-fresh ingredients -- and labeling his nine-dish menu creation, “The Craft of Lehigh Valley.” For the Bethlehem chef, it was a night for him and seven of his chefs to shine in his first solo dinner presentation at the historic James Beard House in New York’s Greenwich Village.

A visiting American chef yesterday demonstrated his cooking skills in Taipei as part of the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership launched to promote culinary engagement around the world. At a cooking demonstration held at Kai Ping Culinary School yesterday afternoon, American chef Bryce Gilmore made his signature dish, the “pork belly slider,” in front of 32 students of the school. 

For half a century now, America's best diplomatic tool has been its music.  Embassies overseas still want American musicians to come for diplomatic reasons. But these days they're not asking for jazz — they're asking for hip-hop.

The U.S. State Department released its annual Trafficking in Persons Report today, which classified countries based on their efforts to combat the practice. There aren’t automatic penalties for countries found to be in violation, but the law does at least suggest that that the U.S. refrain from providing non-humanitarian aid to the worst offenders. 

China gets upgraded in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report for better efforts in battling against human trafficking in the country. The report, released by the U.S. State Department which is tasked with bilateral and multilateral diplomacy for trafficking in persons, ranks each country according to four tiers based on their compliance to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. 

Sheikia Norris, known lyrically as “Purple Haze”,  was born and raised in the birthplace of Hip Hop itself—the Bronx, New York. Sheikia earned her Bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education from Johnson C. Smith University, and she has worked in health education and arts education for over eight years.  She was part of the Next Level, a crew of American hip-hop artists who performed at the American Center, Kolkata. She speaks to BE’s Abhijit Ganguly.

Ansley performed in Kolkata as a part of Next level programme. It is an initiative sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in association with the University of North Carolina’s Department of Music. She spoke to BE’s Abhijit Ganguly at the American Centre.