My very first visit to the TakeFive blog site proved to be fruitful and very interesting! As I mentioned before, I am new to the Public Diplomacy arena and am only now beginning to understand it better. As I went along with the readings, a much more consolidated, “academic” perspective on PD took shape in my mind. But I could not help but noticing how much of it I “consumed” and came to terms with in my daily life, without knowing it was, in fact, PD. As the Pamment article mentioned, it is sometimes hard to separate PD from propaganda, especially when much of the way in which it is conducted serves the same purposes. And while many real examples began to flash in my head, the top PD stories from 2013, as summarized by the University of Southern California´s Center for PD, caught my attention. I was delighted to see that Malala´s fight for female education and peace had such impressive repercussions worldwide, surpassing a mere presence in the media spotlight by visibly positioning these debates in the actual field of global politics.
Even more than that, however, I was moved by the crucial role of Pope Francis in PD. Spirituality is an essential part of my life, and I think many people worldwide feel the same way. Thus, witnessing the outreach and revitalization of the Catholic Church in name of advancing peace, conflict resolution, and development, has been truly eye opening. It has presented a whole world of opportunities to explore and observe during 2014. In fact, another interesting post in the TakeFive blog (http://takefiveblog.org/2014/01/13/pd-in-practice-u-s-facilitates-religious-dialogue-on-the-central-african-republic-crisis/) positions interreligious dialogue as a vital tool for promoting peace and stability. Without a doubt, religious PD will be a major component of the “new PD” order in the coming years, albeit (or perhaps precisely because of) people´s waning confidence in religious institutions. And since 2014 seems to forebode an unprecedented year in PD, (http://takefiveblog.org/2014/01/06/2014-the-year-of-public-diplomacy), religion will be a fundamental player in determining how world events will begin to shift and how they will eventually play out.
Have a wonderful long weekend in remembrance of MLK!