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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 »

A Diverse and Socially Inclusive America Needs to Share Its Story

Wheelchair athlete, left, races along side able-bodied high school runners, April 19, 2006 in Rockville, Md. [AP File Photo]

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

Diversity is our strength, and everyone, including persons with disabilities, has important contributions to make.

That was one of the overarching messages at the 10th Special Olympics 2013 World Winter Games in South Korea this month, where athletes Tae Hemsath and Henry Meece — born in South Korea with developmental disabilities — returned to their birth country as Special Olympics athletes. Tae competed as a snowshoe racer, Henry as a snowboarder.

That same message resonated today throughout a public forum, where participants at Gallaudet University came to learn about opportunities in international exchange for persons with disabilities, and for members of the deaf community.

The audience was moved by the words and experiences of speakers, including U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a former Army helicopter pilot who lost…more »

Technology Advances U.S. Diplomacy Goals

In this photo taken, Nov. 8, 2011, a woman poses with her Blackberry mobile phone in Johannesburg. The woman says she cherishes her phone as a link to family and friends, and also sees it as a radio, a library, a mini cinema, a bank teller, and more. [AP File Photo]

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

When we apply technology at its best to public service at its most critical, we can make powerful differences in the lives and well-being of people.

Advances in communications and information technology are allowing us to do just that, whether we are using crowd-sourcing or Twitter, or reaching people via mobile phones or Skype. We are assisting survivors in the wake of natural disasters. We are monitoring elections to ensure they are free, safe and fair. We are reaching more people in non-permissive environments. Technology has become not only our virtual eyes and ears, but our helping hands, in a variety of ways.

Take Ushahidi (“witness” in Swahili), a crowd-sourcing platform developed by Kenyan citizens in 2008 that uses technology to collect, verify, and map information from citizens on a variety of issues. That can include incidents of violence,… more »

Two Women, Two Countries, Two People: A Growing Partnership

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shakes hands with Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., January 15, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

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

There is no more effective form of engagement than face-to-face communication. That’s a fundamental principle of our public diplomacy. And thanks to a strong friendship and understanding between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , we have just signed an important agreement between the United States and Liberia.

One year ago, this month, Secretary Clinton traveled to Monrovia to attend the inauguration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf . At the time she said, “Democracy hasn’t just sprouted in Liberia, it has taken root.”

The relationship struck between Secretary Clinton and President Sirleaf — strengthened by their own personal narratives of empowerment and their mutual commitment to changing the lives of women and girls, peace-building,… more »

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine, @TSoneshine, participates in a Global Twitter Q and A on December 5, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine, @TSoneshine, participates in a Global Twitter Q and A on December 5, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Global Philanthropy: Harnessing the Generosity of the American People

Toy models left by visitors of designs for products that could help solve world problems are seen in front of a wall of self-made photo portraits of other visitors at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitors Center in Seattle, Washington, Jan. 24, 2012. [AP File Photo]

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

The State Department’s Global Philanthropy Working Group, which I co-chair with Special Representative for Global Partnerships Kris Balderston, is focused on creating a global ecosystem that promotes philanthropy and encourages a culture of giving abroad. One of the most effective ways we can do that is by harnessing a quintessential American asset — the generosity of our own people.

We see that spirit writ large today, as we mark #GivingTuesday, a movement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), corporations, volunteer organizations, faith-based organizations, and retailers all dedicated to helping people in need. More than 1,500 partners in all 50 U.S. states have come together to build campaigns… more »

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Public Affairs Mike Hammers delivers remarks on “Current U.S. Foreign Policy Issues” at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012. [Go to http://video.state.gov for more video and text transcript.]

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Public Affairs Mike Hammers delivers remarks on “Current U.S. Foreign Policy Issues” at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012. [Go to http://video.state.gov for more video and text transcript.]

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine prepares for her swearing-in ceremony with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on April 24, 2012. [State Department photo by Ben Chang/ Public Domain]

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine prepares for her swearing-in ceremony with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on April 24, 2012. [State Department photo by Ben Chang/ Public Domain]