Videos:"I Am a Citizen Diplomat" | "Seventy Years of the International Visitor Leadership Program"About the Author: Ann Stock serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
On Thursday, February 17, I will join Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale in celebrating joint milestones: 70 years of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' International Visitor Leadership Program and the 50th anniversary of the National Council for International Visitors. Tune in to the live webcasts of the events here.
It is this shared partnership that brings 5,200 international visitors to the United States each year. In addition, it is the network -- nearly 80,000 strong -- of citizen diplomats that host international visitors across the United States and bring people together to cultivate greater understanding.
So what is citizen diplomacy? A few weeks ago, a call went out to 92 councils nationwide. We asked a simple question: "What does being a citizen diplomat mean to you?" We were overwhelmed by the response.
Citizen diplomacy comes in many forms. Diplomacy knows no age, language, race, or social status. It is the belief, as the National Council for International Visitors' motto rightly states that "citizen diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right, even the responsibility to help shape U.S. foreign relations, one handshake at a time."Follow @annatstate and join the #Citizendiplomacy conversation on Twitter.