I was fortunate to be present and experience the atmosphere in the room in Quito, Ecuador, when Secretary Clinton gave a speech on Tuesday, June 8. The venue was gorgeous -- a beautiful historic building, the sun shining through the glassed-in roof and exposed brick walls lit up with cool white lights, yet what really created the atmosphere was the Secretary herself. When she walked in to the cavernous room, animated conversations stopped abruptly, and the audience stood to welcome her with applause.
During the speech, I was busy monitoring a live video stream, a chat room, and a satellite feed -- all of which occupied a great deal of my attention -- yet the Secretary's voice and her message cut through my multi-tasking madness. Her message was a simple one -- for us to work together to bring hope and opportunity to the Americas that stretch from the northernmost points of Alaska and Canada to the southern tips of Argentina and Chile.
I felt her message resonate in the room, and in the chat room, where folks from Argentina to Oregon were logged in and listening. Ecuadorian university students, indigenous leaders, artists, politicians, religious leaders, librarians, and women leaders were all present. The audience, physical and virtual, embodied the idea that we are all together in the Americas and reflected our great diversity. The Secretary listed many examples of how we are working together and where we can do more. For me, that challenge charged the atmosphere in the room. Sure, it sounds simple enough, but history tells us it has not been so easy. And I know some skeptics are now rolling their eyes.
But the people I chatted with in person and online were excited. They were excited at the opportunities for working together outlined by the Secretary, and excited to be able to talk to one another about those possibilities. People in the audience said that they felt the Secretary was sincere, that there was meaning and honesty behind the words she uttered.
One woman online said she was glad to be part of the "fiesta de democracia." I can't think of a better way to describe the atmosphere at the speech than that.