A fledgling Iowa-based organization is promoting what it calls "the indispensable value of citizen involvement in international relations." Jessica Rowe is spokeswoman for the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy, headquartered in Des Moines. Rowe says one chief goal of the non-profit national group is to raise awareness about the opportunity for all Americans to be citizen diplomats.
Rowe says, "All citizens have the power to influence public policy in ways that will lead to a better, more friendly, safer world and each and every person can be a diplomat." She says it’s not only the right but the responsibility of every American to be a citizen diplomat of the highest quality for our communities and for our country.
Founded in 2006, Rowe says the center’s mission is very important, especially as the United States’ image is declining across the world, even among our allies in Europe and Central America. Rowe says our foreign relations strategy is like a three-leg stool, with the legs being the military, the government, which is ambassadors and presidents, and the third leg is the citizens. She says, "Many people feel that the citizen piece of it is the most powerful in the defining of the United States to the rest of the world, one handshake at a time and face-to-face communication."
The center has released the names of six Americans who will be honored at the group’s first-ever National Awards for Citizen Diplomacy at a ceremony next month. Rowe says, "It is in Washington D.C. in conjunction with the 2008 National Summit for Citizen Diplomacy." The honorees will be recognized at a ceremony at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery on February 12. The center’s website says the individuals are being singled out "for inspiring others through their exemplary work as citizen diplomats and for promoting cultural understanding around the world." No Iowans are among the winners. For more information, visit Center’s website .