It's Official

Back in July, I groaned on this page after reading in the print version of Architectural Record that Daniel Libeskind was named Cultural Ambassador for Architecture for the U.S. Department of State. My bewilderment had to do with the timing of the appointment and the complete lack of coverage by anybody outside Record. It seemed to me like it was very news-worthy, but nobody was carrying it as news.

Until now. Archinect reports that Libeskind announced at the Venice Biennale that he received the appointment. OK. Now what exactly does he do as Cultural Ambassador?

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Well, visiting his page at CultureConnect, we see that Libeskind is one of thirteen Cultural Ambassadors. He's in the company of singer/dancer Debbie Allen, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, basketball player Tracy McGrady, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, actor/producer Ron Silver, and actress Doris Roberts (of Everybody Loves Raymond). That's quite a diverse group, though I still don't get it. Perhaps Patricia S. Harrison, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs can illuminate things:
Following September 11th, the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has worked to increase foreign understanding of U.S. goals; to reach out to more people with accurate information about the United States; to develop a dialogue with Muslim societies.
Bringing the work of accomplished Americans to the rest of the world in a way that would build understanding and respect and give hope to youth is our objective. CultureConnect brings the strengths of American culture to the world and brings the cultures of the world to America.
These Ambassadors travel overseas to engage with youth and undertake projects in their areas of accomplishment--clinics, performances, coaching sessions, motivational speeches, teach master classes, and leadership training.

Reading further into Libeskind's CultureConnect page, he has traveled as Ambassador to Tunis, Tunisia, and Italy. Other than that information, everything will be COMING SOON! Hopefully soon enough we'll learn if this program is worthwhile and works as intended, in terms of mutual understanding and respect, but also in terms of Americans learning about other cultures, not just spreading American culture.