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July 9th, 2017:

My favorite kind of diplomatting

I am a firm believer in American education.  I’m a product of the American educational system myself, of course, and in addition to that, I worked in the system for 20+ years. I got interested in the Foreign Service through my experience as a Fulbright scholar. One of the reasons that I wanted to join the Foreign Service is because of all that we do with promoting U.S. educational opportunities for students from other countries.

There’s a constant stream of students from other countries to learn in America. Our educational system, like our culture, is very attractive to foreign students. Even though it isn’t perfect (what is, after all?), America’s educational system enjoys a strong reputation internationally. The huge influx of international students to American high schools, colleges and universities is impressive and inspiring.

So when I was asked to represent the U.S. Consulate at a graduation ceremony of a U.S. university’s program in Vietnam, I jumped at the chance.

Before the event began, I got to schmooze with some people.

Exchanging business cards in the digital age, using our smartphones.

The ceremony got off to an impressive start. A troupe of local dancers opened the ceremony with an eye-popping performance. This video is just a little snippet:

I got to say a few words on behalf of the Consulate in congratulating the graduates and the graduate program.

Unfortunately for the attendees, the big screen showed everyone exactly what I look like close up.

Someone once said that America is its own best advertisement. This morning I met some really excellent people who are ambitious and optimistic about the future of their country. They chose to invest in their future by pursuing an education at an American university. I’m proud that they benefited from an American graduate education.