Diplomacy 2.0 at Work: Secretary Clinton's Digital Town Hall in Santo Domingo

Posted by Suzanne Hall
April 17, 2009
Screenshot of Secretary Clinton's Digital Town Hall in Santo Domingo

Watch Digital Town Hall at 11:15 AM | Interactive Travel Map | Text the SecretaryAbout the Author: Suzanne Hall serves as Public Diplomacy Advisor in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. She is currently in Santo Domingo.

Secretary Clinton arrived here in Santo Domingo last night on her first visit to the Dominican Republic as Secretary of State. The Dominican people have received the Secretary with such warmth, and the local media has been buzzing with her visit since it was first announced on Monday.

We are here on site at FUNGLODE in the heart of Santo Domingo waiting on the Secretary’s arrival to begin a digital town hall. FUNGLODE, the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development, provides a think tank-like space to analyze and formulate innovative responses to political, social and developmental issues confronting the Dominican Republic today. Given FUNGLODE’s mission, it’s the perfect space to roll out Secretary Clinton’s major public outreach event during her visit.

Secretary Clinton’s engagement here will be a unique one. The Secretary will address a group of about 150 Dominican citizens from all walks of life: students, teachers, business people, representatives of non-governmental organizations, media and a few Dominican officials, including First Lady Margarita Cedeño de Fernández. Secretary Clinton will speak about what the United States hopes to achieve at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, which starts later this evening in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Her opening remarks will touch on the main Summit themes, including human prosperity, energy security, climate change and sustainable development.

Here comes the 2.0 aspect of the event: following her remarks, Secretary Clinton will take questions from the Dominican audience, as well as from a virtual audience composed of people from throughout the hemisphere tuned into the event via a live video streamed on townhall.america.gov. Many of these people—whether from Brazil, Canada, Guatemala or Colombia—submitted questions online in advance in Spanish, Portuguese, English and French. The Summit of the Americas impacts all citizens of the hemisphere, and the Secretary felt it was crucial to open up this event to as many people of the region as possible. The online hub serves as the perfect multiplier to get out the Secretary’s remarks and allow her to interact with a massive audience that reaches far beyond the walls of this auditorium.

Following her digital town hall, the Secretary will go straight to the airport, where she will depart for Port of Spain and join President Obama for the launch of the Fifth Summit of the Americas later this evening. She’ll carry with her the concerns and issues raised by the participants of the digital town hall here in Santo Domingo. Since the Summit is intended as a framework to bring direct and positive impact to the peoples of the hemisphere, the comments from the live and digital audiences here at FUNGLODE will impact how Secretary Clinton and the rest of the U.S. delegation engage with their counterparts on site at the Summit of the Americas.

This is new media and web 2.0 tools at work, shaping diplomacy in real time.

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