Supporting Culture and Better Futures in Afghanistan

In this Feb. 6, 2013, photo, Afghan actor Fawad Mohammadi 14, rides a horse on Nader Khan's hill at the one of the areas where a part of the Afghani Oscar Nominee film titled Buzkashi Boys, shot in Kabul, Afghanistan. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Tara Sonenshine serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

This past month I had the opportunity to meet two incredible groups of young artists from Afghanistan — and to see firsthand evidence of how our public diplomacy efforts for young people in that country are bearing fruit. It was also a chance to underscore our commitment to support the strengthening and preservation of national cultures around the world.

The first artists were students of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), who began a State Department-funded tour in the United States with a concert of traditional Afghan music. I had the pleasure of introducing them, and we were joined by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who shared his own love for music with the audience. Over the course of their… more »

Afghan Music Students Begin U.S. Tour

Musicians with the Afghanistan National Institute of Music perform during the organization's winter gala in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 1, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: James B. Cunningham serves as Ambassador to Afghanistan.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Winter Academy Gala Concert of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). Students ranging in age from 10 to 20 played Chopin and Ravel, as well as Afghan traditional songs and collaborative fusion pieces. 

In a historic tour that began February 3, 2013, ANIM students are traveling in the United States to perform at venues ranging from the world-famous Carnegie Hall andKennedy Center to the headquarters of the World Bank and Fordham High School for the Arts. Even more… more »

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry surprises children from the Afghan National Institute of Music at their performance at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., February 4, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry surprises children from the Afghan National Institute of Music at their performance at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., February 4, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Musician will.i.am Supports the 100,000 Strong Initiative

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Grammy Award-winning musician and producer will.i.am, of The Black Eyed Peas, to discuss his support for the 100,000 Strong Initiative at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., July 29, 2011. [State Department photo]

About the Author: Gillea Benitez serves as an intern in the Burea of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

July ended on a high note at the Department of State, where Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met hip-hop musician will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas. During their meeting, Secretary Clinton highlighted the importance of educational and cultural ties between the United States and China, in particular, furthering the goals of President Obama’s 100,000 Strong Initiative to increase dramatically the number, and diversify the composition, of American students studying in China. 

As a summer intern working on the 100,000 Strong Initiative, I helped coordinate the Secretary’s meeting with will.i.am, as well as a video interview with will.i.am before an audience of nearly 100 at the State Department. In late June, the 100,000 Strong team first learned that will.i.am had… more »

U.S. Choir “105 Voices of History” Makes International Debut in the Caribbean
Ambassador Avant with the 105 Voices of History HBCU Choir in Nassau, The Bahamas, May 21, 2011.

About the Author: Erica Thibault serves as the Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas.

Nassau came alive on Saturday, May 21, to a spectacular performance by the “105 Voices of History” choir that included more than 100 talented students representing The Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the United States of America. Under the theme “One Voice,” the musical gala featured students representing the United States’ 105 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities, known as HBCUs, and Bahamian students from The College of The Bahamas Choir and the Bahamas National Youth Choir.

The three-hour “One Voice” musical gala showcased a wide repertoire of classical, jazz, and gospel music as well as spirituals. Many of the songs featured strong Bahamian folk influences. U.S. Embassy Nassau… more »

"U.S.A. Weekend" Brings the United States to Bolivia

People visit the  Weekend U.S.A. booth at a mall in Bolivia, May 2011. [Embassy Photo]

About the Author: E.J. Monster serves as the Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia.

If you were Bolivian and wanted to learn about U.S. exchange programs, where would you go? To the mall!

The U.S. Embassy partnered with the Bolivian-American Center to hold an exciting “USA Weekend” at a popular shopping mall and cinema in Cochabamba, Bolivia, May 13-15. Nearly 10,000 Bolivians attended the three-day event, experiencing American culture and learning about the educational and cultural exchange programs we offer.

To bring the United States to Cochabamba, we organized nightly concerts featuring performances by Bolivian artists of American hip-hop, jazz, and pop music and dance.  Crowds cheered, sang, and danced to impressive tributes to American musical favorites. Enthusiastic teenagers formed long lines for photographs with our Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam mimes, as well as the life-size cutout of President Barack Obama. … more »