Remarks by Adam Clayton Powell III
Broadcasting Board of Governors
August 30, 2017
Thank you, Mr. Chairman; Governors, Director Lansing, ladies and gentlemen.
My name is Adam Powell, and I am the President of the Public Diplomacy Council and Director of Washington Programs for the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership and Policy. But these remarks do not represent the views of those organizations; they are solely my own.
Everyone in this room has as a goal telling America’s story and linking America to the world. And all of us here in Washington look to our national government as a primary source. But there are other sources not only of the American story but of stories of America’s links to the world. Those are the states and territories of these United States of America.
A few months ago, the National Governors Association held its annual summer meeting in Rhode Island, and one trend was obvious: The governors are now key points of contact between the U.S. and our partners and adversaries overseas.
The opening lunch of the NGA was hosted by China’s Ambassador to the United States and was attended by senior officials from its Embassy here in Washington and of its Consulate in New York.
Later, the keynote addresses were by Vice President Pence and by Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau. A response came from the Mayor of Mexico City.
According to the NGA, this was an unprecedented level of participation by foreign countries, all anxious to make contact directly with state governments – not through Washington D.C.
Much of this, of course, is for economic development. Toyota in Tennessee and Airbus in Alabama are old stories. But we here in Washington may not see just how important this has become. Kentucky’s governor said foreign investment in his state has increased severalfold and is now in the billions of dollars. That is just Kentucky.
But so much of it goes beyond business. Take education: Qatar directly funds Arabic language programs in K-12 schools around America. Spain targets young Hispanic leaders in the U.S. for exchange programs. Confucius Institutes have multiplied on college campuses across America.
And states are responding: This month USC and the Public Diplomacy Council presented a forum  on South Carolina’s international exchange program that links K-12 school students in South Carolina with students around the world. With technical assistance from the MIT Media Lab, schools in the U.S. are paired with schools across the world for daily or weekly live two-way video lessons and student-to-student exchanges.
South Carolina now has 84 projects in elementary, middle and high schools, with partner K-12 schools in in China, Russia, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Malta, Romania, Cyprus, Croatia, Brazil, Colombia, Belize and the Dominican Republic. They say every teacher in every classroom in every country has renewed for another year.
Now, working with partners including Harvard, Google, the BBC, the British Council and UNESCO, South Carolina’s program is working to expand to a million school children around the world.
The total budget for the expansion is a million dollars. One million dollars. When I asked the director why the budget was so low, he said they didn’t believe they could spend any more money responsibly.
That is just South Carolina. There must be more in other states.
We often say the states are America’s laboratories of democracy. They should be part of the American story we share with the world.
To watch the YouTube video of this meeting, please click here
Adam Clayton Powell III is Director, Washington Programs for the University of Southern California’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy and directs the Center’s Internet of Things (IoT) Emergency Response Initiative. He is also University Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. Read More