Hosting THIS for Diplomats
January 18, 2013 § Leave a comment
This week, we hosted THIS for Diplomats at a dinner reception at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Guests enjoyed a beautiful spread of Bahraini and Middle Eastern specialty appetizers, dishes, and sweets, as they socialized. Following my address, attendees were treated to a colorful brief on Bahraini culture and history from our Embassy’s Cultural Counselor, Aysha Murad.
THIS, formerly The Hospitality and Information Service, is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote international understanding and friendship through educational, informational and cultural exchanges with members of the diplomatic community in Washington, DC. In service of its mission, THIS was particularly welcoming to me when I arrived in the United States. The organization’s positive engagement springs from a core belief in the power of Citizen Diplomacy, the building of understanding and personal relationships between ordinary individuals from different countries.
As an open and welcoming country with a substantial expatriate community and vibrant tourism sector, Bahrainis agree that these warm exchanges between individuals can grow into positive relationships between countries. My story – that of a Jewish woman who rose on her merits to the top of Bahrain’s civil society to become its Ambassador to the United States – is possible because of Bahrain’s unique history as a meeting place for trade between empires and its exposure to a wide variety of cultures, thus breeding an atmosphere of tolerance and respect for minorities that is uncommon in that region of the world.
Bahrain has a history of being a progressive country, and sets a strong example for the region in respect to women’s rights, and political and social reform initiatives. My own experience is a microcosm of Bahrain’s broader story, and as Ambassador, I am committed to working with friends and allies to advancing this positive, forward-looking vision for a progressive and inclusive Bahrain.