About the Author: Gregg Fish serves in the Public Affairs Section of U.S. Embassy Beijing.
On June 25, 2010, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing hosted more than 800 guests for its annual Independence Day Celebration. The event showcased American diversity with its centerpiece: a giant photographic display specially prepared for the event called "Faces of American Diplomacy." This work featured creative headshots of 45 embassy staff of all ages and heritages, ranging from summer interns through mid-level officers to the Deputy Chief of Mission and Ambassador. The portraits were taken on red, white, and blue backgrounds and laid out in a pattern resembling an American flag. It was a striking display of the diversity of the embassy community -- and the United States as a whole -- with Americans of Asian, African, Hispanic, and Caucasian background. It was also a reminder that the contributions of people from different cultures and backgrounds give America the dynamic and vibrant character that makes it so unique.
For the official ceremony, Ambassador Huntsman and Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun stood on stage next to the "Faces of American Diplomacy" backdrop as a Marine Guard Unit presented the colors. American student Kevin Olusola performed the Chinese and American national anthems on the cello. In his speech, Ambassador Huntsman observed that although the United States has faced many challenges in its 234-year history, each time it has emerged stronger and more resilient, ever-dedicated to the principle established in our Declaration of Independence that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He also stressed the importance of the connections between the United States and China and, with Minister Zhang, offered a toast to the future of the U.S.-China relationship. The two then cut a cake decorated as the American flag, while violinist Tang Xun joined in Kevin Olusola's crowd pleasing beat-box interpretation of "America the Beautiful."
For the rest of the afternoon, our high-level Chinese and international guests were invited to sample a variety of American cuisine. A string quartet from Bard College Conservatory of Music played in the Embassy's Atrium, while the bluegrass music of the Red Bucks kept feet tapping at the barbecue outside. For those feeling more mellow, there was a lounge with soft jazz music, while the summer boardwalk experience was brought to life in the Embassy's Cherry Garden, where guests could enjoy hot dogs, ice cream sundaes, and cotton candy.
Although the guests clearly enjoyed the food and entertainment, many of them were most struck by our message of diversity, particularly by viewing the "Faces of American Diplomacy" display. We received numerous comments from our foreign guests about the photo exhibit which so powerfully captured the distinctly American diversity of our community -- something well worth celebrating on our nation's birthday.
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