« Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
C’est la citation de Benjamin Franklin qu’un des jeunes français a utilisé lors de l’entretien pour le program Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute (BFTF).
Si j’ai envie d’écrire quelques lignes sur ce programme, c’est parce qu’il m’a permis de rencontrer un certain nombre de jeunes français absolument géniaux. Ce programme fait partie de ce que l’on nomme youth outreach, c’est-à-dire les programmes auprès des jeunes organisés par Département d’Etat.
Le programme BFTF a été mis en place par le Bureau des Affaires Educatives et Culturelles du Département d’Etat en 2006 pour commémorer le 300e anniversaire de Benjamin Franklin. Il était un homme d’Etat ainsi qu’un diplomate dont une des missions était d’améliorer la compréhension mutuelle entre les Etats-Unis et l’Europe. Benjamin Franklin utilisait les médias et la diplomatie – en partageant l’information – pour favoriser cette compréhension.
Le but du programme est de réunir une cinquantaine d’étudiants venant de tout l’Europe, ainsi qu’une dizaine d’étudiants américains, tous âgés de 16 à 18 ans, pour échanger notamment sur les problématiques mondiales actuelles, le leadership, les medias, la coopération transatlantique, et intègre également un volet d’échange culturel.
Les jeunes qui ont participé au BFTF me disent tous que le voyage leur a ouvert les yeux et que c’était un rêve devenu réalité. Ils me disent que cela les a aidés à changer l’idée qu’ils se font de la diplomatie – c’est-à-dire cette idée que la diplomatie n’est que discussions entre des chefs d’Etat (certes ceci en fait partie), alors qu’elle implique également des visites d’écoles, du travail auprès des jeunes et des associations etc.
En ce qui me concerne, le BFTF est une des parties les plus gratifiantes dans mon travail car combien d’entre nous peuvent dire qu’ils ont aidé une jeune à réaliser son rêve !!
La diplomatie sous sa forme la plus simple se résume à des discussions entre les gens. Ben Franklin serait sans doute très heureux des savoir que son héritage perdure – il y a un groupe de jeunes transatlantique qui continue les échanges sur les réseaux sociaux depuis les Instituts et qui le continuera sans doute encore longtemps.
Je vous joins ci-dessous les pensées de Cedric Schmidtke (BFTF 2012) et de Clément Drouhard (BFTF 2013) sur leurs expériences aux Etats-Unis.
” Semaine 29, 2012 – A nous le monde.
Après avoir sillonné les routes de Caroline du Nord et suivi la voie des Fondateurs des Etats-Unis d’Amérique à Philadelphie, notre bus s’arrêta à Washington D.C, dans le district de Colombia.
Nous voilà donc au cœur de «la cour des Grands», logés sur le campus de l’Université George Washington, à découvrir le centre de la politique étatique / fédérale américaine. La Maison Blanche, le Capitole, le Lincoln Memorial… Que de symboles nationaux. Internationaux, même.
Barack Obama, JFK, Martin Luther King, la famille Clinton etc. Tous fervents défenseurs de la Culture et de l’Histoire du pays. Tous passés par cette ville riche de son passé et de son avenir des plus radieux.
Si je devais donc résumer mon expérience outre-Atlantique, ce serait par le mot «Richesse». Non pas la richesse matérialiste, ou la suprématie des Etats-Unis d’Amérique dans le monde du commerce international, mais la richesse de ce voyage au sein de l’Histoire américaine. Cette immersion totale et sans faux-semblants m’a permis de vivre une expérience intéressante, enrichissante mais surtout diversifiante, avec des jeunes européens et américains de milieux très différents, mais tous aussi passionnants les uns que les autres. Ce programme, au-delà d’être une incroyable ouverture sur le monde des Relations internationales, est et restera une aventure unique.” (Cedric)
“Le mois que j’ai passé aux Etats-Unis grâce au Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Summer Institute, entre rencontres, visites et épanouissement intellectuel, fut le plus enrichissant de toute ma vie. Ce fut un émerveillement total : je n’oublierai jamais les conversations passionnantes que j’ai eues avec certains camarades, le cours sur le Constitution américaine, la vue époustouflante depuis la Willis Tower de Chicago, la générosité de ma famille d’accueil, les soirées en ville avec mon ami chypriote à la guitare, les musées remplis de merveilles, les débats enflammés durant la simulation de l’OTAN au State Department… Tout a été pour moi l’occasion d’en apprendre davantage sur les Etats Unis, sur les modes de vie et de pensée de mes nouveaux amis venus de tous les pays d’Europe, mais aussi sur moi-même, ma façon de penser ma relation aux autres et au monde.
J’ai été le premier français à participer à la première session BFTF Summer Institute à Purdue University dans l’état d’Indiana et je considère cela comme une grande chance. Bien que l’université et son énorme campus aient confirmé mon cliché qu’aux États Unis tout est surdimensionné par rapport à l’Europe, les habitants du Midwest ont été très accueillants et j’ai beaucoup profité de l’accès aux salles de gym flambant neuves de l’université. Être dans le Midwest m’a aussi permis de voir l’Amérique rurale de l’intérieur grâce à ma famille d’accueil, en traversant des villages Amish ou en se rendant à la foire du conté où je vivais. La côté est, différente mais tout aussi intéressante, m’a permis de découvrir deux grandes villes américaines : Philadelphie et Washington D.C. Avec un groupe d’amis désireux, comme moi, de profiter et de visiter au maximum, nous nous sommes écartés des sentiers touristiques et des centres villes et nous avons enchaînés galeries d’art magnifiques et quartiers typiques. La dernière semaine fut riche en découvertes et surtout en chaleur humaine : nous avons souvent eu le culot d’échanger avec les autochtones qui nous livraient avec sympathie des anecdotes sur leur ville et ses habitants.
Un mois, deux parties des États-Unis, quarante-quatre nouveaux amis et des milliers de souvenirs, c’est plus ou moins ainsi qu’on peut résumer ce séjour bien plus qu’exceptionnel. En plus des visites planifiées dans les pays de mes nouveaux amis respectifs, ce programme m’a donné goût aux richesses du multiculturalisme, ce que j’ai la chance de retrouver dans ma nouvelle promotion au campus européen de Sciences Po Paris à Dijon. Il m’a aussi donné de nouveaux outils pour m’engager plus encore dans ma communauté et quelque chose de très précis concernant les Etats-Unis… l’envie d’y retourner et même pourquoi pas d’y travailler.” (Clement)
En vous souhaitant un excellent automne,
About the Authors: Tiina Bieber works as a Public Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Consulate General Strasbourg; Cedric Schmidtke is a BTFT alumnus and a law student in Paris; Clement Drouhard is a BFTF alumnus and studies at Science Po Lyon
About the Author: Ms. Emily Ubbes is currently interning at the U.S. Consulate General in Strasbourg
While enjoying our new electric Chevy Volt, staff members of the U.S. Consulate in Strasbourg have also been benefiting from another mode of green transportation this summer: bike riding! And, apparently, so have the people in our sister city, Boston!
For over 50 years, Strasbourg, France and the city of Boston, Massachusetts have been sister cities according to the Boston Strasbourg Sister City Association, a nonprofit organization designed by president Eisenhower to enhance international understanding through cultural programs and exchanges. Originally, these cultural centers bonded in terms of their strengths in economy, education, medicine, and government, but over the years, they have become more and more similar in terms of cultural advancements, perhaps in part due to this intercontinental cooperation. Both cities hold great pride in historical architecture, majestic churches, and grandiose landmarks, and as time progresses, they are only growing closer together, which has connected the two municipalities in yet another important area of life: transportation.
To many, Strasbourg has been considered one of the most bicycle accessible cities in all of France, with over 130,000 cyclists and over 500 km (310 mi) of bike paths. Strasbourg also has a very effective bike rental system, which I have had the pleasure of using for the past year. Velhop, the go-to solution for long-term and short-term bike rentals has been operating since 2010 and offers many payment plans for students, carte bageo holders, and those who plan to rent bicycles for any period of time. This company has brought cycling in Strasbourg to a whole new level of accessibility! Though it has taken a little longer for Boston to catch up to the cycling trend, in 2007, Mayor Menino implemented Boston Bike, an initiative determined to transform Boston into a leading bike friendly city. Over the past 5 years, the city of Boston has installed 2,750 bike racks, and is continuing to add an additional 250+ each year, slowly but surely catching up to Strasbourg’s current 19,000 bicycle parking spaces.
In order to transition the Bostonian mindset in terms of transportation to that of a European city, such as Strasbourg, this metropolis is focusing on five universal bike planning areas: Engineering, Enforcement, Education, Encouragement, and Evaluation. Using their sister city, Strasbourg, as inspiration, Boston will continue to provide safe condition for cyclists, as well as increasing the pleasure and convenience of biking, in order to make cycling the natural choice for citizens of Boston, just like it seems to be the most used mode of transportation in Strasbourg. In my opinion, transforming Boston’s bike sharing system, where people can pick up bikes from hubs and return them within 30 minutes, to a more user friendly bike rental company, like Velhop, would help to encourage biking in the city of Boston. From personal experience, having lived both in the United States and in France, I can say that the U.S. has a lot of work to do when it comes to promoting healthier and more earth-friendly modes of transportation. We need to get past the stereotypes that more people walk and bike in Europe and more people drive cars in America. Although Boston will have greater tribulations when it comes to safety, as it is a busier and more populated city, it has seen the benefits, both to human health and environmental safety, which are associated with becoming a world-class bicycling city, and it is on its way to becoming a role model for other cities in the U.S..
The goal of the sister city program is ultimately to enhance cultural awareness and to learn from other parts of the world in order to better ourselves. Citizens of Boston have seen firsthand how the cycling community of Strasbourg improves the city, and soon the two cities will be on the same level when it comes to bicycle accessibility. On the other hand, maybe Strasbourg could learn from Boston when it comes to wearing helmets. Almost 73% of Bostonian cyclists sport the stylish headgear; whereas, it is evident when strolling down the streets of Strasbourg that helmets are only worn by children with overprotective parents! Either way, the cooperation between Boston and Strasbourg will continue to better cultural awareness, as well as cultural programs in the cities themselves, for centuries to come.
Want to become a cyclist in Boston or Strasbourg? Follow these links for more information:
About the Author: Meghan Cioci interned at the U.S. Consulate General of Strasbourg from June to August 2013
Strasbourg and I didn’t waste any time getting to know one another. Within two hours of arriving, my new roommates took me out for some flammkuchen à volonté with a crew of young Strasbourgeois students who promptly began my initiation to the city, its culture and its idiomatic expressions. Within a day, my feet were already aching from my adventures wandering around la Petite France, up the famous Cathedral and through the Orangerie Park. I’m fairly surprised I didn’t run into any walls my first weekend in Strasbourg; I quite literally had la tête en l’air while taking in the beauty of the gothic cathedrals, les maisons à colombages, the storks and the buildings of the European institutions, where I would come to spend much of my ten weeks. I knew I was in for a great summer. And this was all before starting my internship…
That Monday, I presented myself at the gates of the Consulate General, not having the slightest idea what to expect. My first week at the Consulate General was a blur. One of our smallest diplomatic missions—I came to learn—Consulate General Strasbourg only has six employees. Needless to say, I got to know the entire staff very quickly and was extremely grateful for their warm, Alsatian welcome as well as their guidance during my first few days.
I grew accustomed to the routine (or lack thereof) of working at the Consulate General. Attending weekly meetings at the Council of Europe as well as its week-long Parliamentary Assembly gave me a keen insight to the human rights issues and questions in the 47 member States of the organization. Other days I observed notarials and reports of birth abroad, drafted Department of State cables, attended Russia’s and Sweden’s National Day celebrations hosted by their respective ambassadors, and even helped plan a Fourth of July party. My work days may have been nine to five, but they were far from routine.
I was afforded the privilege of working on fascinating projects. A personal favorite was interviewing the Head of the Registry at the European Court of Human Rights about a new law passed in Romania concerning Communist Era restitution, and writing a report thereof to our Embassy in Bucharest. In addition, I certainly will never forget attending the official welcome ceremony for Croatia’s accession to the European Union at the European Parliament with the Consul General and my fellow intern.
Additionally, outside of my internship, I was able to take the time to walk to neighboring Germany, visit the Château of Haut-Koenigsbourg, explore the traditional Alsatian architecture of the charming village of Riquewihr, pick up some Alsatian expressions from my French colleague (like “fatch!”), and even fit in a trip to Paris.
So, thanks are in order to the Consulate General and the city of Strasbourg for a whirlwind summer fling. I am extremely grateful for the guidance and insight the Consul General and his team of locally hired staff gave me during my sojourn in Alsace. I’m even thinking about taking the Foreign Service Exam in February….who knows, Strasbourg, I may be back in twenty years as a Foreign Service Officer so that we can rekindle our summer love. In the meantime, I’ve already booked my train tickets back for December. (I can’t miss out on the world-renowned Christmas market, now can I?)
This may be the last day of my internship, but these past ten weeks in Strasbourg and at the U.S. Consulate General have been full novelty: learning about this city, its people, its charm, its architecture and its Consulate General of the United States, and falling in love with this very unique region of France.
If you are interested in an exciting and challenging State Department internship opportunity, check out these links:
A little rain failed to dampen what turned out to be a wonderful Independence Day celebration at the Consul General’s residence last Saturday. Despite rain all morning, threatening clouds, and a brief downpour during the traditional singing of the National Anthems, a good time was had by all. As always, a huge thank you to our sponsors, who helped make it possible for our guests to enjoy an American holiday celebration, including hot dogs, pizza, delicious liquid refreshment, and some great jazz: Ernst & Young, the American Chamber of Commerce, Mars, Coca Cola, the Strasbourg Hilton Hotel, Americans in Alsace, and association Alsace Etats-Unis, which provided the outstanding musical entertainment, jazz band “Moving”, the obligatory Fourth of July beer, and many helping hands. A special thank you to Ms. Julianna Rambaldi for her lovely and inspiring renditions of the Marsaillaise and the Star Spangled Banner, to the U.S. Army Europe Woodwind Quintet for musical entertainment, to Boy Scouts of America Troop 681, International School of Basel, Switzerland, for presenting the colors, and to Embassy Paris Deputy Chief of Mission Mark Taplin for honoring us with his presence.
Of course, Independence Day is about more than just enjoying a picnic, parade, or party. It’s about taking a moment to remember the courage, convictions, and foresight of the men who took great risks to declare the independence of the United States 237 years ago. Indeed, they concluded the Declaration by writing: “For the support of this Declaration . . . we pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” What they did truly changed the world.
Below follows the text of the brief remarks I made Saturday afternoon. Thanks again to all our great sponsors, volunteers, and the staff at the U.S. Consulate General in Strasbourg. Happy Birthday, America!!
REMARKS OF THE CONSUL GENERAL, JUNE 29, 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all for being with us today as we celebrate and commemorate the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This was a document that clearly enunciated certain principles that today we all take for granted:
— that all men are created equal;
— that all are endowed with certain unalienable rights;
— that among these rights are the rights to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness.
While these words seem self-evident to us today, in 1776 they were revolutionary.
The birth of our nation led to revolutions elsewhere and was soon followed by the equally famous phrase of “Liberte, Egalitie, Fraternatie.” Eventually it was recognized by many nations, around the world, that certain rights are universal. And today it is the duty of the Council of Europe to protect and perpetuate in Europe what we all still, I think, take for granted: democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
So as you enjoy an All-American hot dog on this most American of all holiday, please take just a moment to remember the courage and convictions of those who founded the United States of America and who believed in a better, and freer life for everyone.
I’d like to conclude by thanking all those who made this event possible today. Our sponsors Coca Cola, Mars, the Hilton Hotel, Pizza Hut, Ernst & Young, the American Chamber of Commerce in France, Americans in Alsace, and association Alsace Etats-Unis and its President M. Francis Hirn. Thanks as well to all our wonderful volunteers today, and to my wonderful staff at the U.S. Consulate General.
Happy Independence Day, everyone.
Evan G. Reade
Bonjour à toutes et à tous !
Pour ceux qui sont habitués à nous voir arriver avec une voiture noire officielle, accrochez-vous – il se pourrait que nous arrivions avec une voiture blanche « Made in the USA ». Grâce à notre Ambassadeur, Charles Rivkin, et nos collègues de Lyon, nous avons eu la chance de recevoir une nouvelle Chevrolet Volt. Trop cool !
En effet, la Mission France est la première mission diplomatique au monde à être équipée de véhicules écologiques ! Et quelle voiture – elle est silencieuse, maniable, compacte, belle, et bien sur et surtout électrique et écologique. Ces derniers jours les panneaux d’autoroute ont indiqué comme quoi il fallait limiter l’utilisation des voitures personnelles à cause de la pollution (et oui, c’est la canicule) – et bien le problème est résolu.
L’Ambassade des Etats-Unis en France fait partie de la Ligue des Ambassades Vertes (League of Green Embassies). C’est une initiative du Département d’Etat dans le but de promouvoir la coopération internationale dans le domaine de l’efficacité énergétique et les technologies vertes – et bien évidemment ceci coïncide avec les efforts du Président Barack Obama de rendre le gouvernement plus « vert ». Un des volets de cette League of Green Embassies est la promotion de l’industrie et de l’innovation américaine. Le deuxième volet étant la réduction du CO2 (dioxyde de carbone) dans les bâtiments du gouvernement américain. Et bien, ce projet « Greenwheels » essaye de répondre à ces challenges. Ce qu’il faut savoir, c’est que les Volt sont chargées avec une énergie 100% renouvelable.
Pour le clin d’œil historique – nous travaillons après tout dans la diplomatie et la France est l’un de nos principaux alliés : Louis Chevrolet, né en Suisse, est venu en France en étant très jeune. Il a immigré aux Etats-Unis en 1911 et ensuite il a cofondé la Chevrolet Motor Company – qui est aujourd’hui le numéro 4 mondial dans le domaine de l’industrie automobile. La Volt est également la première voiture américaine à être élue « la Voiture Européenne de l’année 2012 » grâce à ses qualités environnementales et de conduite.
J’ai hâte de me déplacer avec notre nouvelle voiture – et je suis très heureuse que le Consulat Général puisse bénéficier de ce projet « Greenwheels ».
A très bientôt – peut-être avec les roues vertes !
The Consulate General Drives on GreenWheels!
For those of you who are only accustomed to seeing us drive around in our very official black Cadillac, get ready because our traditional mode of transportation has had quite the face lift! Thanks to U.S. Ambassador, Charles Rivkin, and our colleagues in Lyon, we have been fortunate enough to receive a brand new white Chevy Volt, made in the U.S. of A!
In fact, Tri-Mission France is the first diplomatic mission in the world to adopt ecologically-conscious vehicles. And what a car we have!—it’s quiet as a mouse, easy to drive, compact, attractive, and most importantly, environmentally-friendly! The arrival of our new car is also quite timely: recently there has been a push to limit the number of cars on the road to reduce pollution (especially with the heat wave we’ve been suffering the last few days!)…looks like the problem is solved!
The United States Embassy in France is a member of the League of Green Embassies, a U.S. Department of State initiative to promote international cooperation in energy efficiency and green technologies. This also aligns with President Barack Obama’s efforts to make the U.S. government more “green.” One of the League of Green Embassies’ main focuses is to promote American industries and innovation. In addition, they also seek to reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions in American government buildings. And of course, with our new Volt running exclusively on renewable energy, our “Greenwheels” project is doing just that!
Considering we work in the field of bi-lateral diplomacy for Franco-American relations, we cannot ignore the ties Chevy has to France. Louis Chevrolet, although born in Switzerland, moved to France at a very young age. He then immigrated to the United States in 1911, where he later founded Chevrolet Motor Company, the fourth largest in the industry today. And not to toot our own horn too much, but the Chevy Volt was the first American car to be selected as the “European car of the year” for the year of 2012 because of its outstanding commitment to environmental protection, all while maintaining the quality for which Chevy is renowned.
I cannot wait to take a spin in our new car, and I am delighted that the Consulate General has been fortunate enough to take part in the “Greenwheels” initiative!
Until next time—and maybe in our new green machine!
Sur l’auteur: Tiina Bieber est la chargee des affaires publiques au Consulat General des Etats-Unis
High on a hilltop overlooking Colmar and the plain of Alsace with its charming villages and well-tended vineyards, waves an American flag. If you look, you can see it as you drive along the famous “wine route” below. It is the centerpiece of a memorial erected to preserve the memory of the American soldiers who fought and died there sixty-eight years ago in the Battle of the Colmar Pocket. Slightly behind it, on another nearby hilltop, waves the French flag, standing sentry above a war cemetery where rest the remains of the French soldiers who gave their lives in that same battle.
May 8 is a holiday in France to commemorate the end of World War II. In cities, towns, and villages across the country, this day is marked with simple, dignified ceremonies to remember the victory, those who perished to win it, and to reaffirm our shared commitment to make sure such a dark period never again descends upon Europe. This year, I was fortunate enough to participate in two such ceremonies.
In the small town of Rouffach, just south of Colmar, I joined Mayor Jean-Pierre Toucas, other local dignitaries, and the people of the town to dedicate a plaque to commemorate the “Carrefour des Allies” (“Intersection of the Allies”) in the center of the town. It was on that spot on February 5, 1945, that elements of the U.S. 12th Armored Division met up with the French Army’s 4th Moroccan Division. The village had been liberated! The Mayor and I delivered brief remarks, the American and French flags were raised, the town’s band played the Star Spangled Banner and the La Marseillaise, the plaque was unveiled and blessed by the town’s priest, and once again I wished that everyone in the United States could be standing next to me to witness the reverence the people of France still hold for their American liberators all these years later.
An hour later, I was at the memorial on the hill, high above the village of Sigolsheim, standing with Mayor Thierry Speitel, Prefect Vincent Bouvier, and other civilian and military dignitaries as nearly 300 spectators stood silently to remember the past. Two veterans of the U.S. Third Infantry Division who had fought on that spot made the trip from the United States to stand there once again, and they placed a wreath at the base of the flagpole to honor their fallen friends and comrades. Following the ceremony, we all walked up the hill to the French war cemetery to pay respects to the French soldiers who died to liberate this last corner of France.
When you next visit Alsace, and as you tour its lovely villages and sample some of its delicious wines and local products, make sure you take the time to stop by one of the many memorials to the U.S. troops who fought here nearly 70 years ago, or visit the Museum of the Battle of the Colmar Pocket in Turckheim to learn more about the history of what took place here http://musee.turckheim-alsace.com/english.html. And if you are here on May 26, stop by one of the four American war cemeteries in northeastern France (Epinal, St. Avold, Saint-Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne) to help us celebrate our own Memorial Day holiday http://www.abmc.gov/home.php.
Thanks for sharing a few moments to read about what we’re doing here at Consulate General Strasbourg. Below are the remarks I delivered at the U.S. War Memorial at Sigolsheim:
“Mr. Mayor, Mr. Prefect, Civil and Military Authorities, friends from the American community in Alsace, ladies and gentlemen:
On behalf of U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin, and the government and people of the United States of America, thank you for inviting me to participate in this moving ceremony to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the end of World War II.
As we stand on this hilltop today, looking down on the charming villages and well-tended vineyards of Alsace, it is almost impossible for us to imagine the scene from this same spot in January and February 1945. The villages below lay in ruins, the fields were strewn with the implements of war, and the men on this hill – nicknamed “Blood Hill” – were engaged in a deadly battle for survival, in the midst of one of the coldest winters on record.
The Battle for the Colmar Pocket was perhaps not one of the largest or most famous engagements of the war, but for the men who fought here it was a daily struggle for survival. Likewise for the people of the towns and villages nearby, as they took shelter in the cellars of their churches and watched their homes being destroyed in the terrible clash between the Germans, who were fighting desperately to hold on to the last bit of Alsace, and the French and Americans, who were determined to liberate every last inch of France. Many soldiers on both sides died. Some of these heroes rest only two hundred meters from here.
We all know how the battle ended: the Allies were victorious, the villages and Europe were rebuilt, and for the next 68 years – until today – Western Europe has lived in peace. It is important that we remember the glory and the sacrifices of the men who fought here, but more importantly, we must remember the pain, the loss, and the destruction which accompanied those acts of bravery. And that is why we are here today, instead of at work or at school: to remember and to recommit ourselves to the fight against intolerance, hatred, and violence so that what happened here 70 years ago will never happen again.
To conclude, let me say thank you to the people of Sigolsheim and Alsace for this lovely memorial. I have visited many war monuments in France, and this is one of my favorites. I am very proud when I see the American flag on this hill, overlooking Alsace and the birthplace of Bartholdi. I hope it will remind all who pass by of the enduring ties and shared values of freedom and democracy that continue to unite our two Peoples.”
Evan G. Reade
Deputy Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe
Strasbourg was the scene of an amazing event last Friday and Saturday: l’Association Mistral Est’s fifth annual “Universal Dancers International Hip-Hop Dance Festival.” More than 2,000 cheering fans gathered on Friday night to watch as over 200 talented young hip-hop artists from France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and the United States put on a dazzling and inspirational show. The U.S.A. was represented by four performers from the Las Vegas-based, national championship winning “Battle Born Crew”, and SUPER CR3W hip-hop sensation Ronnieboy was also on hand to act as a judge in the “battles” that took place on Saturday, the second day of the festival.
I was definitely one of the oldest people in the crowd on Friday night, and probably the only person in the house wearing a necktie! I was given the honor of opening the event with some brief welcoming remarks, and despite the enthusiastic and screaming reception I received from the fans, I wasn’t kidding myself! They just wanted to get the old guys out of the way so the show could begin! And they were not to be disappointed. The performers put on an incredibly exciting show.
As I explained in my remarks, despite my California roots I am definitely not an expert on things hip-hop. But if I were to try to find one word to describe the phenomenon that is hip-hop, it would be “diversity.” There was an incredible range of diversity on display, not only among the dancers themselves, but in the styles and ranges of dance moves displayed. Everything from acrobatic break-dancing street moves, to modern jazz, to classical ballet (although instead of pirouetting on toe, the dancers did so on their heads!) Surprisingly (to me) one of the most popular numbers was a commanding and powerful tour de force set to the music of Vivaldi – albeit a heart-pounding, Red Bull-fueled, club mix version! It was amazing!! What impressed me the most about all the performances, besides their athletic and artistic beauty, was the incredible dedication and determination required of all the performers. It was clear to this hip-hop novice that the young adults on the stage weren’t just goofing around and bustin’ some moves; they were there because they had spent hours and hours of hard work perfecting the music, the choreography, the costumes and the theatrical emotions that one finds in professional dance productions.
The outstanding performances and the great atmosphere of the event were further proof that art, culture, dance, and sport transcends borders, and that through these vehicles, people who come from different places or who speak different languages can share moments of joy and creativity together. It was clear that all of the nearly 2,500 spectators and participants at the festival shared the aspirations of hip-hop: “Stay Clean, Stay Consistent, Stay Creative, and HAVE FUN!”
The U.S. Consulate General in Strasbourg is extremely proud to have helped sponsor this great event, and we congratulate l’Association Mistral Est and all the performers and fans for such an incredibly fun and successful production.
Evan G. Reade