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Strasbourg – Outreach to Youth and Friendship Associations

April 8, 2011

Dear all / bonjour a tous,

First, thanks for visiting our blog.  I’d like to mention  some interesting activities this week and respond to some observations we have received.

I was pleased so many lyceens attended the “Town Hall with Youth” in Strasbourg Monday, April 4.  I found the students’ questions pertinent and challenging.  I also think this was a great way to celebrate the second anniversary of President Obama’s Town Hall here as well.

Wednesday evening my colleague, Cal Defay, and I had the pleasure of meeting with a new association in Strasbourg — “Amities USA” — to talk about the upcoming trip of several students to North Carolina where they will live with American families for two weeks.  Among my tips on living with such families — offer to help wash the dishes after dinner — this will go a long way in forming a family bond!

Thursday afternoon I attended an amazing event — the closing day of the “Mois de l’Autre” (“Month of the Other”), sponsored by the Region of Alsace in close coordination with the Rectorat.  I was very impressed with the diverse range of activities and the commitment of so many students to respecting others.  For me, this is  fundamental in a civilized society that emphasizes human rights — respect and tolerance of  others.  It is easy to talk about human rights — it is not always easy to respect human rights in everyday life, but it is essential.  Bravo to all who participated and thank you for the invitation to witness a great program.  As I mentioned in my remarks at the closing ceremony, I would like to “import” this program to the United States.  Thank you, Alsace!

The Association Alsace-Etats Unis Colmar was very kind and hosted me to give a speech on “The EU and the U.S. — Indispensable Partners” followed by a dinner.  Madame Donnard, the President of the Association, presented me a wonderful book containing photos and text from several of my visits to Colmar and surrounding towns. 

Also on Thursday Turckheim Mayor Balduf, Deputy Mayor Weckner, and Museum Curator Burgere provided me a tour of the Memorial Museum of the Pocket of Colmar.  This small and interesting museum is a great testament to the bonds between the French and American peoples and armed forces who helped defeat Nazism.  Thank you to all who made this visit memorable.

Now, to respond to your postings:

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.  I agree, I wish we had heard more from M. Berger and Mlle Grenet regarding the various issues discussed.  Hopefully we will plan a bit better for similar events.  Nevertheless, I agree that the event was stimulating.

Yes, Ms. Cleveland, as a U.S. Government official (as am I!), was speaking regarding official U.S. policies.  While she and I obviously have our own private opinions about many topics, in public our job is to convey official policies.  I am more than willing to come to your lycee to spend more time on the theme of human rights (I agree with you — more time for our event could have led to a more in-depth discussion, including on things like “just wars”) as long as you recognize that I will provide explanations of our official policies.  Finally, our federal system is deeply imbedded in our constitution and political and societal traditions, so I do not think we will move toward lessening states’ powers.  Thanks for your very thoughtful comments.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable and safe weekend (bonne fin de semaine a tous) and, once again, thank you so much for outstanding events this week!  Let’s hear from you!

Vin Carver

U.S. Consul General

Alof Tenough

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