Not that I'd ever celebrate Thanksgiving if I were not in the U.S., but as the saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." It's certainly great to receive many invitations for a "warm and yummy evening," but I could not refuse the suggestion to drive almost half-way through the country to... Arkansas, of all places!
My dear friend could not have been a better citizen diplomat...!
So, we went. Here are some noteworthy impressions... from the perspective of a public diplomacy freak.
Flags. Lots of them. Everywhere. Yeah, I never really, truly appreciated flags. But well, they are good symbols. They represent, and tell a story. Here's what I learned about the Arkansas flag:
- AR is the only place in North America where diamonds have been found and mined. Hence, the diamond shape.
- The flag got the 25 white stars, because AR was the 25th state to join the Union.
- The top blue star in the center represents Arkansas' membership in the Confederate States during the Civil War.
- The other three blue stars represent Spain, France and the U.S.: all the countries that have ruled the land of Arkansas.
(No one's mentioning the the Native Americans, of course...)
Yes. This is the AR State Capitol. In Little Rock. Modeled after the National Capitol, built more than half a century after the one in D.C., with pretty impressive bronze doors, and... very welcoming. Certainly, the need for security cannot be comparable to Washington; and yet, I cannot but mention the welcoming smile of the guard who let us in, despite the fact that it was Thanksgiving day.
Inside the Capitol. Christmas time is here. Yay!
Heh, but of course... We're in Clinton-land!
Fayettville. Formerly Washington. Although the night was frosty, the sunset was very warm.
Thanksgiving! Yeah, missed the Turkey shot. Obviously, we were hungry. These deserve special mention, though. All home made!
The World Peace Prayer Fountain Sculpture in central Fayettville, featuring "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in more than 100 languages. A strong pacifist message!
Couldn't find Armenian. But saw Georgian!
Arguably, America's greatest Public Diplomat! Represented Arkansas for 30 years.
A cute statue in front of the Heifer International Project HQ, Little Rock. Great global outreach, and an integral part of overall public diplomacy. World Avenue in the background.
Hah! Beat that in terms of winning over an Armenian! 6 foreign flags, the second among them Armenian (third from left). They knew I was coming...!
Clinton-land II: The Presidential Library. Unfortunately, it was closed when we were around. Pretty neat-looking building, though. Definitely on the "to visit" list, if ever back in town.
Sneak-peek at the Old State House Museum. Current Madame Secretary's dress from... should be around 1980 some time. Red. Great choice!
Clinton's running shoes: perhaps the most weird item I've seen at a museum exhibit so far. Still, the rumor has it, many decisions are often debated and made while jogging. If only shoes could speak...
..... This was before they came up with the lethal injection. Eerie!
And certainly, the greatest and easiest way of cross-cultural bonding: FOOD. I've got to admit that despite my meat aversion, this beef bbq sandwich will be remembered for years to come. Yeah. We can overcome stereotypes!
To my dear friend: for the thousandth time, thank you for the great week!
And... have any of you invited an international student for Christmas, yet? :)