“Engagement” can be a confusing term, as it means different things to different people. To me, it implies a commitment to do whatever you can to support a cause, a program, a community – even a country other than your own.
In my work, I have been fortunate to help further the international education agenda at my university and also to work to improve awareness of peacebuilding and conflict resolution strategies in the war-torn areas of the southern Philippines.
I think the concept of engagement implies a continual striving to do what you can to empower and also bring together different sectors of your university, region and the world towards a desired end result.
I have been able to work for thirteen years with the U.S. State Department to bring Muslim, Christian and indigenous youth from the southern Philippines together with American youth and NGO leaders of diverse background here in the Chicago region. The Philippine Youth Leadership Program is a very rewarding public diplomacy project, as you can visibly see the transformation in young people struggling to build a more inclusive society.
More recently, with a grant from the Fulbright-Hays Foundation, I have been able to take American high school and community college instructors to the Philippines to learn about human rights issues in a very different cultural, economic, political and historic setting.
In that way, I am happy to know I have contributed to improving the international understanding of young people in my own country and in my other country of specialization.
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."