Sunday, July 08, 2012

Flakistan

I earned my flak stripes today: I organized a trilingual press conference with a dozen television and radio stations in Kurdish, Arabic and pan-Arab media.  It was a doozy of a media day, shepherding crews around to the classes.  It started at 11am, and the last station did not leave until around 5pm.  I would claim the title "The Hardest Working Man in Public Diplomacy," but I think that title may belong to my boss John Ferguson (Has literally spent a grand total of 7 weeks at home since January, all while running around conducting YES Academies in Thailand, Malaysia and Iraq, and Jazz programs in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia).

I was interviewed on a number of them, so anyone watching KNN at home, please tell me how I did.  One station asked me if that since we were bringing Western culture like hip hop to Kurdistan, were we destroying their local culture?  I replied that the cultural exchange goes both ways, and we do our part to listen to local culture and local voices.  While we are bringing aspects of Western culture to Iraq, we work with the local artists to conduct real cultural exchange; we are taking elements of our culture and elements of Kurdish and Arabic culture, and creating a space where it can interact.  Kurdish folk dance meets Brooklyn b-boy spirit. I hope my translator had fun explaining that in Kurdish.

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