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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alese Kari Jones on Wednesday August 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CMS 111H at University of Southern Mississippi taught by Kathryn Anthony in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 8 views.
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Date Created: 08/03/16
Marcos Cecchini Special Project Casa África and soft Diplomacy This winter break, I had an incomparable experience at Casa África. Casa África is a branch of Spain’s system of international affairs which promotes soft diplomacy and globalization. Casa África is broken into five major departments; communication, web and library, institutional department, economic diplomacy, and arts and culture. I was able to spend a day at each of these departments, but before working in them, I had to learn about the goal of Casa África. Casa África has one clear objective; to strengthen the cultural and economic relations between Spain and Africa. The system they use to make this happen is called soft diplomacy. Soft diplomacy does not actually have a definition, but it is a form of diplomacy whose goal is to bring the people of two different cultures together in a gradual, unforced manner. Examples of soft diplomacy used by Casa África include Visàvis, an African music festival that travels through Spain, or displays of African art. When people attend these events, they might hear a song by an African band they really like, or see a piece of art they truly adore; this helps them become more familiar and appreciative of Africa’s culture. These small victories are what Casa África is all about, and the difference it makes is truly astounding. The first of the departments I learned about was communication. This department was all about portraying Africa in a positive light through newspaper articles or other publications. Newspapers right a lot on the negative aspects of Africa, but there are so many great things occurring in the cradle of humanity. One of my favorite things I saw while at this department was a book they handed to all journalists traveling to Africa. This book contained tons of cool and positive facts about Africa. These facts include: two out every three purchases made in Kenya occur over cell phone, 330,000,000 million Africans have access to the internet, and in 2015, the percent of South Africans, Nigerians, and Americans who own a phone is the same! Small facts like these are often overlooked, but they really shed light on the true progress being made in the Dark Continent. The next department, web and hybrid library, had a much bigger objective than any other department. The first of its two aspects, web, was focused on posting things on social media that show the progress made in Africa. This department is very important because many people are on Facebook, so it spreads positive news very fast. The other half of this department, the hybrid library, has many parts to it. For starters, the library is filled with books from every country in Africa. That may not seem like a big deal, but most of those books had to be translated from one of the 2,000 languages spoken in Africa. My favorite publication of theirs was a book of African tales that they gathered from elders. From that book I learned a very important African saying, “When an elder dies in Africa, a whole library is burned down.” This saying illustrates the tradition of oral literature in Africa, and it really taught me that if we do not do something to write those tales down, a large part of African culture will go missing. The other part of this library was the music library. The music library had tons of different genres; from small bands I have never heard of to Hugh Masekela and Fela Kuti, it was all there. The last thing that makes this library truly exceptional is that it can almost all be found on their website for free. This department does a great job at preserving Africa’s culture and makes it available to almost anyone around the world. The third department, the institutional department, was the most like a traditional international relations department. This department was focused on presenting Casa África itself as a positive investment to the Spanish government, other political institutions, and to other investors. This department makes everything from pamphlets, to power points, and maps of Africa. There, I was given a gorgeous map of Africa with all the locations of the Spanish embassies in Africa and some statistics of Africa and Spain. In this department, I learned a lot about basic diplomacy, and the importance of showmanship within diplomacy. The business aspect of Casa África was rather different. Instead of trying to make money for Casa África or Spain, the country that invests into Casa África, its primary focus is to facilitate investing in Africa. Africa is a land rich in mineral resources and business opportunities. Having Spanish people open businesses is beneficial to both Spain’s economy and Africa’s economy. Not only does opening businesses in strengthen the economies of both countries, but it cements a strong relationship between the people of Spain and their African neighbors. In this department I learned how interlocked business and international relations are, and that if done right, business can be a phenomenal bridge that brings together people of different cultures. The final department I visited was the arts and culture department. This department’s task was pretty simple: to spread African culture through the arts. This department arranged Visà vis, the giant African music festival that traveled through Spain. They also put up expositions of African art, or photo galleries from historic African events. One of the greatest events they held was the African film festival. The films they played were not popular movies about Africa, like Hotel Rwanda; rather, it focused on films made, directed, and produced entirely in Africa by Africans. Because of the late technology, some of the films seemed a little cheesy, but it reminded me of the good, classical American films before there were tons of special effects and computergenerated images. This department really taught me how to see the beauty in the simplicity of African art and culture. Overall, my experience at Casa África was tremendous. I learned a lot about soft diplomacy, which really worked its magic on me. Soft diplomacy and Casa África truly taught me how to respect and appreciate African culture. I wish more institutions like Casa África existed; I believe it would help people gain respect and admiration for different cultures, and bring our world together harmoniously.
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