A recent report by Texas Public Radio’s The Source affirmed the work that SACIV and the San Antonio community are doing to engage internationally. Mayor Nirenberg, Sherry Dowlatshahi of the City’s International Relations Office, Carlos Jarquin of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and Richard Perez of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce all contributed to a discussion about the virtues of international exchanges and citizen diplomacy. They were joined during the broadcast by SACIV’s own Cecilia Cross who was able to add to the conversation by explaining more about the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program and San Antonio’s leading international role in that program.
“Especially during times when there is a push among politicians to isolate our community from others around the world, it is important that city-to-city and citizen-to-citizen partnerships are formed,” Mayor Nirenberg said. “We talk all the time about the importance of building infrastructure and building bridges. There is no more important infrastructure than that created by diplomacy between people in one country and another.” We certainly appreciate the prominent place international cooperation has been given in city priorities, but Mayor Nirenberg also made clear the importance of those outside City infrastructure in building person-to-person diplomacy. “There is a role for anyone who interested in expanding their horizons and getting to know their fellow citizens across the world.”
We also truly appreciate the words of Sherry Dowlatshahi, Chief of Protocol and Head of the City of San Antonio’s International Relations Office. In her view, citizen diplomacy serves a special role in the San Antonio community. “It allows us to open San Antonio to the world, to bring the world to San Antonio, and to expose our citizens to opportunities to learn about other cultures and other countries.” While describing all of the powerful work the City is engaged in to advance San Antonio’s position as a global city, Ms. Dowlatshahi did not claim that the City alone deserved credit. “The actual activities that are executed, what happens, doesn't really come out of us, it comes out of the work that is done by community organizations . . . the San Antonio Council for International Visitors, a wonderful organization, really works very well in that space of developing dialogue at the citizen level.”
SACIV was glad to have a platform to share the triumphs of international relations at the local level, and we at SACIV were all heartened by the encouraging words of the other panelists about the work that we do. If you want to listen to the full story, click here.