Ambassadors and embassies push boundaries, expand horizons
B Y G A I L S C O T T
Diplomats Do Disney
Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center was the first stop in late January for more than 60 diplomats and spouses from 45 nations, as Chief of Protocol Nancy Brinker quietly inaugurated her “Experience America” tours. “This is a result of a survey we did when I first came into office,” Brinker said. “The ambassadors said they wanted to see American life outside Washington and learn more about global trade, corporate governance, security, and sustainable energy.” On this Florida trip, they also visited the Kennedy Space Center, Florida Sustainable Energy Center outside Orlando, and the Port of Miami; met with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the founders of Art Basel Miami Beach; and enjoyed a typical Cuban dinner. “Nancy Brinker deserves great praise for this wonderful initiative,” said Liechtenstein’s Claudia Fritsche. Ellen Noghès, the American-born wife of the Ambassador of Monaco added, “It was a fascinating trip of discovery for all the members of the Diplomatic Corps.” Irish Ambassador Michael Collins felt this kind of guided exploration gives ambassadors “a wider perspective.” Malaysian Ambassador Rajmah Hussain felt a direct connection to her homeland. “If Florida is the sunshine state, then we are the sunshine country” she said, adding that her country is studying multiple sources of alternative energy, trying to determine which methods are most efficient and cost effective.
Major construction and a few face lifts
Look for China’s giant, I.M. Pei-designed embassy on International Drive to open just in time for the Beijing Olympics in August. Directly behind the Chinese, Morocco hopes to break ground later this year on their new home. According to Moroccan Ambassador Aziz
Mekouar, “The design will be contemporary yet still have reminders of Moroccan traditional architecture.” Nearby, Jordan has been going through “face-lifts” for both its sand-colored chancery and for the Jordanian Residence in McLean. Villa Firenze, the handsome 22-acre Italian residence, is closed for renovations and the Castellanetas have evacuated Polly Guggenheim Logan’s former estate for the duration.
Sweden’s “party guy”
When Swedish Consul General Pontus Jarborg wanted to reach out to Washington’s young professionals, he admits he didn’t expect such an overwhelming result. Thousands came to the House of Sweden’s first open house, co-sponsored by Svedka Vodka and Starbucks, resulting in an unending line and an hour and a half wait. “Facebook and the $10 donation (open bar) made us the place to be.” The party, originally planned for 500, snowballed into an event with over 3,000 RSVPs. Jarborg, now the embassy’s “Party Guy,” remains undaunted and plans to do it again (“with a bit more control”) for “Discover Sweden,” their next big exhibit in April. He quips, “Don’t all the best places always have a line?”
Readers wishing to get in touch with Gail can email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DO YOU KNOW EMBASSY ROW?
• Slovenia, which is only 17 years old, is the first post-Iron Curtain EU member to hold the presidency of the prestigious 27 member European Union. • Slovenia’s smart new promotional campaign: The only country with “love” in its name. • Slovenia lays claim to the world’s oldest vineyards, originally planted by the Romans. • Slovenian Ambassador Samuel Zbogar ran the Marine Corps Marathon to raise funds for six young landmine survivors from Bosnia-Herzegovina. He finished marathon in 3.31.07.