About the Author: Kay Mayfield serves as Director of the Office of Public Diplomacy for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
The Centro Colombo-Americano in Cali will pull you in like a magnet! Great energy, great programs, and a real partnership with the local community. It's one of more than 125 Binational Centers (BNCs) in Latin America that offers a point of intersection between the United States and the host country. Every BNC knows its audiences, knows what matters to them, and delivers, whether it's English classes, library and research resources, educational advising for study in the United States, or cultural programs.
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A. McHale with U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William R. Brownfield, put the spotlight on BNCs Monday at the biennial conference of the Association of Binational Centers of Latin America (ABLA), with the Cali center as conference host. Under Secretary McHale told the BNC crowd that President Obama and Secretary Clinton have a vision for reaching out to peoples around the world; BNCs are at the core of that vision. Under Secretary McHale pushed the BNCs and libraries to keep up their track record of innovation. Read Colombian daily El Paisinterview with Under Secretary McHale, where she discusses how the library of the future is out there now, and users know it.
Through increased public private partnerships and innovative technologies, traffic for U.S. Government Information Resource Centers and BNC libraries keeps growing. Under Secretary McHale noted that BNCs have been around for a long time (Cali's BNC opened in 1956), but still find ways to serve their audiences and to “strengthen bridges between countries.” The Department of State continues to explore new ways to use technology to get resources to people faster, via the platform that works best for a particular audience.