Saturday, October 26, 2013

Winning American Spaces Style

Rathaus (City Hall) in Vienna, Austria
Thanks to the government reopening, training we had already paid for didn't have to be cancelled.

And so I was able to go to Vienna, Austria last week for an American Spaces workshop.

There are some 700 American Spaces worldwide (the link above says 820, but those include our Information Resource Centers (IRCs) that are for the most part no longer open to the public for security reasons).

American Spaces are often located in libraries and universities and are free and publicly accessible places where people can go to learn more about the United States. In a time when security concerns continue to increase, these spaces become more and more important as a means to reach foreign audiences.

In fact, during the shutdown, American Spaces were about our only form of outreach.

The folks who run these centers are usually not paid by us. They are librarians and library directors who do this because it provides a service to their patrons. And we do provide resources for the corners that those libraries might not have been able to afford otherwise, including lots of books and other materials. This year, I got a grant to buy web cams and projectors so that we could bring American speakers into the American Spaces virtually when it was not feasible time-wise or monetarily to bring them to the actual location. So it is a win-win.

All of this is to say I was really happy that this workshop went on, because we were able to send these folks who bear our message to their respective publics without financial compensation to Vienna to learn about more resources they can use and to share ideas. It was a fruitful few days and a nice treat on top. Again, win-win.

The workshop was actually cancelled one day before the government re-opened, fortunate timing because we were able to turn it back on quickly. And it was particularly useful for me as Public Affairs Officer because it gave me an opportunity to have the directors of all four of our American Spaces in Estonia in one place. I got to know them better, they got to know each other better, and we got to plan some future events. Lots of winning all around (and no Charlie Sheen in sight!).

Not related to the post other than that it is in Vienna and Halloween is coming...

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