About the Author: Sarah Nolan serves as Assistant Chief of Protocol for Diplomatic Partnerships.
As the first Assistant Chief of Protocol for Diplomatic Partnerships, it is my job to provide the Diplomatic Corps with greater understanding of the United States' people, customs and institutions through an exchange of ideas, cultures, and traditions. I was excited to get right to work with Experience America -- Chicago.
From May 12-14, the people of Chicago opened their city and their arms to our delegation. On our first full day, the weather outside was quite wet, but the energy and excitement were palpable as we boarded the buses early May 13 on our way to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the CME Group. Located in the financial heart of Chicago, the CME Group hosted a breakfast with prominent business leaders from across the city.
Terry Savage, financial columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, moderated a very interesting panel discussion with Terry Duffy, Chairman of the CME Group, Jerry Roper of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Craig Duchossois CEO of the Duchossois Group, Brad Keywell, Co-Founder of Groupon, Fritz Johnston, Director of Brand Strategy and Advertising at Boeing, and Michael Andres, President of McDonald's Central Headquarters.
During the question and answer session, Ambassador Avni Spahiu of Kosovo stood up and said his country does not have a McDonald's. However, after an energetic back-and-forth with Mr. Andres, a McDonald's may be arriving in Kosovo very soon. These types of interactions are exactly what Diplomatic Partnerships and "Experience America" is all about.
Next, we were off to the Wrigley Global Innovation Center. The leadership at Wrigley gave our traveling ambassadors a model example of how a company with humble Chicago beginnings implemented an innovative philosophy to grow and expand into 40 countries around the globe. The Global Innovation Center leads the company's efforts to develop the latest flavors of gum and other confections. Housing great thinkers across diverse fields in one place, these experts utilize their knowledge of science and technology to develop state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, materials, and packaging for their products. We split up into four groups to tour the facility and view several demonstrations. I can tell you it was an experience that entertained each of the five senses, and one we won't soon forget.
Our next stop was at the Illinois Institute of Technology for lunch hosted by University President John Anderson and senior researchers in the beautiful Atrium of the Institute's Tech Park. During lunch, we received a presentation from Professor Phil Troyk about his cutting-edge work to develop a prosthetic eye. The ambassadors weren't the only ones marveling at this ground breaking research.
After lunch, we toured IIT's IdeaShop, which gives students the space and resources to address unique global challenges by developing a product or company that can help meet that challenge. One initiative establishes training programs in Latin America for prosthetics and orthotics technicians to address the severe shortage of trained clinical practitioners. Another addresses the need for better coffee bean storage facilities in local farming communities in Uganda.
As the first day of our trip came to an end, I couldn't help but reflect back on each of the events and think about how all these people have a role in helping our efforts at diplomacy -- we are making lasting connections, strengthening our relationships, and introducing the Diplomatic Corps to a diverse and innovative group of Americans.
I hope that the relationships built during this trip and through Diplomatic Partnerships programs in the future, will strengthen the friendships and opportunities between our nation and the world, and I look forward to working to make that happen.
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