Friday, January 11, 2013

Smithsonian Institution team visits American Corner-Manila


The U.S. Department of State, as a part of its public diplomacy strategy, manages a wide network of American Spaces across the globe, which now sums up to about 850 diverse spaces (i.e., in terms of sizes, audience, partners and quality of collections, services, programs and physical set-up). These spaces allow people to come together to learn about the United States, explore opportunities, take classes, and develop and observe social experiences. 

The State Department, as it tries to embark upon a strategic process of improving and standardizing the quality of the spaces and their core programs (which focuses on English language learning, Education USA advising, alumni activities, cultural programs, and provision of information about the United States), has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution to get the help of the experts specifically in the fields of architecture, space design, exhibitions, programmatic strategies (i.e. how to best use spaces for specific types of activities), IT and mobile capabilities, and international project management in the conduct of a global review of selected spaces in view of developing concrete recommendations for improvements based on best practices and on-the-ground realities.

From among the many spaces around the world, only seven spaces will be visited to serve as sampling of the different American spaces. AC-Manila was privileged to have been selected as one of the seven. These seven spaces will have the potential to become “model spaces” representing the vision of the State Department for dynamic, hi-tech, and innovative places where local audiences may be engaged.


The team consisting of delegates from the Smithsonian Institution (namely, Nancy Proctor, Director of Mobile Strategy and Initiatives; Shari Werb, Director of Education and Outreach, National Museum of Natural History; Molly Fannon, Senior Adviser for International Programs; Jeffrey Hirsch, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Director of Cultural Practice, Ewing Cole) and the State Department (consisting of Dawn McCallU.S Department of State, Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs, Laura Kaspari-Hohmann, Division Chief, Regional Support, IIP/RCA/AS - Office of American Spaces and Alicia van der Veen, Special Assistant, IIP/RCA/AS - Office of American Spaces), and accompanied by a team from the U.S. Embassy Manila (namely, Myra Michele Brown, U.S. Department of State's Regional Information Resource Officer, Robin Diallo, Public Affairs Officer, Elizabeth Meza, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer, and Florabel Aureus, Acting Director, TJIC) visited the new location of the American Corner (AC) – Manila (13/F of The Learning Commons) on January 8, 2013. They had a long discussion with the De La Salle administrators and key stakeholders (including Br. Michael J. Broughton FSC, Associate Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission (AVCLM), Engr. Aurellano O. dela Cruz Jr., Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Development (AVCCD), Dr. Renato De Castro, Coordinator, American Studies Program; Ana Maria B. Fresnido, Director, American Corner & University Library, Donna Lyn Labangon, Associate ASRC Librarian), and a group of students and alumni from the International Studies Program. The discussion focused on the programs of the American Corner and how the students and alumni participate in the planning and implementation of the programs, as well as recommendations on how to better improve the collection, facilities and services of the Corner making sure of optimum utilization and that it reaches a wider range of clients.

The Smithsonian Institution and U.S Embassy, Manila Delegates from left (L) to right (R): Nancy Proctor, Director of Mobile Strategy and Initiatives; Shari Werb, Director of Education and Outreach, National Museum of Natural History; Molly Fannon, Senior Adviser for International Programs; Jeffrey Hirsch, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Director of Cultural practice, EwingCole; Elizabeth Meza, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer, Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Manila; Pong Aureus, Acting Director TJIC, Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Manila.

Dawn McCall, U.S Department of State, Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs

Robin Diallo, Public Affairs Officer, U.S Embassy Manila with Br. Michael J. Broughton FSC, Associate Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission (AVCLM) of the De La Salle University.


Myra Michele Brown, U.S. Department of State's Regional Information Resource Officer with International Studies students of the De La Salle University.


Laura Kaspari-Hohmann, Division Chief, Regional Support, IIP/RCA/AS - Office of American Spaces; Ana Maria Fresnido, Director, American Corner & University Library; Alicia van der Veen, Special Assistant, IIP/RCA/AS - Office of American Spaces

Simultaneous with the visit, an outreach program intended for barangay officials and volunteers of Brgy. 704 and 718, was held at the audio-visual room adjacent to the Corner. Participants of the program were offered a seminar-workshop on the use of English language for the purpose of developing their communication skills, both written and oral, which will be useful to them in the conduct of their day-to-day activities. Mr. Dennis Pulido of the Department of English and Applied Linguistics served as facilitator.

The visit concluded with a short cultural presentation by faculty and students of the International Studies Program.

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