American Grassroots Diplomacy in Damascus

Check out this blog of an interesting experiment in American public diplomacy in Syria:

“The American MidEast Leadership Network’s (AMLN’s) Virtual Scrapbook is an online collection of the thoughts, musings, favorite things, photographs, and video/audio clips collected by the participants and administrators of AMLN’s Grassroots Diplomacy Program, a three-week cultural exchange program between American and Middle Eastern students.

The 2009 Virtual Scrapbook documents the experiences of 15 American students, young professionals, and AMLN administrators on their trip to Syria in August. After reading their profiles, follow their thoughts and reflections on their experiences, see Syria through their eyes, and enjoy the culture, traditions, and personal and political histories that they are encountering.”

One of my former students is on this trip and wrote me, “I am now in Damascus with a group of 10 American students on a citizen diplomacy program (American MidEast Leadership Network) in order to engage in productive dialogue with our Syrian student counterparts. We have daily conflict resolution dialogue sessions and Arabic language lessons, and every few days we have formal meetings with various Syrian ministers and religious figures (including the Grand Mufti!). We have actually met with more Syrian officials then any State Department official in the past five years, and I have given more interviews to SyriaTV than Fox News has to Newt Gingrich.”

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