We just had our orientation at the Department of State for our impending ambassadorial tour of Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Angola. Sitting in the meeting I was struck by just how much my own values about cross-cultural communication were reflected in this briefing. Above all, this program is about person-to-person interaction.
The amazing thing about this program, is that we’re being sent with the specific agenda of going there and just being ourselves. And when I think about it, I can’t imagine a better way to be ambassadors.
I remember when touring Germany with Northern Harmony, I met a man who had never met an American before. He told me “You are not what I thought an American would be like.” And, to be fair, he wasn’t what I expected a German would be like. In that moment, we both saw each other as people not that different from each other, both with the same needs for safety, love, food, and comfort. Unfortunately, the power of media to convey an image of a country is wrapped up in its power to distort that image and dehumanize the people in it. This trip is going to be full of opportunities to make those connections both ways.
Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Angola, I can’t wait to meet you!