In the early morning of March 14, my colleagues from the Public Affairs Office and I welcomed nine European Parliament staffers to a pre-departure briefing here at the U.S. Mission. Less than 48 hours later, they – and two other colleagues — would be on a plane, leaving for a 10-day visit to the United States to learn more about the American perspective on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership currently being negotiated by the U.S. and EU.
The room was filled with chatter and excitement before the meeting, which took place over coffee, tea and fresh croissants in USEU’s elegant “Transatlantic Room.” We briefed them on what was ahead, answered their questions, and wished them safe travels. The participants came well prepared and took the opportunity to ask a lot of detailed questions. Not suprisingly, one of the first things raised was whether the cold weather on the other side of the Atlantic would impact their trip! (It did, but just a little.)
Each year, USEU gets to send key contacts to the United States to learn about the U.S. perspective on important transatlantic issues. These people-to-people diplomacy programs have existed for many years and in many forms, including International Visitors Programs like this one for the EP staffers, and also the Fulbright program. We’re always thrilled to send our key contacts on these programs, and are even more pleased when we get feedback afterwards about how their trip benefited them both professionally and culturally.
By Dion Wierts, Cultural Affairs Specialist