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RISE Center at the American University of Kuwait hosts U.S. Cultural Attaché Dr. Zennia Paganini For its First 2017-2018 Lecture Series

The Center for Research in Informatics, Sciences and Engineering (RISE) at AUK, in collaboration with the United States Embassy in Kuwait, kicked off its annual lecture series on Monday with a lecture entitled "The Role of Technology in 21st Century Diplomacy" by U.S. Cultural Attaché Dr. Zennia Paganini. The lecture shed light on the tools of technology as they are used specifically for American public diplomacy.

Commencing with welcoming remarks, Director of RISE Dr. Amir Zeid expressed his hopefulness and confidence in the imperative role the center will play in its 4th year as a platform for community engagement stating that "RISE has more potential than ever to reach new heights. AUK is growing, Kuwait is transforming, and the world is undoubtedly changing." He explained the importance of the lecture given that it comes at a time when most of us depend on technology, especially social media platforms.

Dr. Paganini, who has served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for the Department of State since 2010, brought her immense expertise to bear on this highly relevant topic of how technology is used to increase mutual understanding, and the types of technologies that are better suited for outreach and cross-cultural exchanges. She discussed the role of technology in American public diplomacy, which focuses on building people-to-people relationships by taking the audience on a journey through her various diplomatic missions across the world including Syria, Honduras, and Kuwait. She explained that at times, technology enabled the practice of public diplomacy when physical presence was not possible. In Syria, for example, she used technology and social media platforms after getting evacuated from Damascus to continue her work with the help of people on the ground.

While serving as a diplomat in Honduras, Dr. Paganini took the initiative to have an app created that provided thorough information on all the paperwork needed for obtaining a visa. This was a game changer since many applicants had to drive long hours from rural areas to the embassy for their appointments only to find out that they needed an additional document. For her role as a diplomat in Kuwait, Dr. Paganini focuses on programs of different nature such as American education student events, promoting peace and tolerance with technology through TechCamp Kuwait, and many others. When asked why she offered such a vast range of examples from different countries, she explained that "Strategies and technological tools do not have the same level of effectiveness in every region; the usefulness of different facets of technology depends on location, timing, and a variety of other factors."

In addition, Dr. Paganini discussed ways in which the role of technology in public diplomacy has evolved throughout the years, "Messages used to be expensive, so diplomats had to write in concise Twitter type texts, and again today we communicate in short Twitter type texts," she explained. Overall, Dr. Paganini stressed the importance of communication in her job, stating that "Being a diplomat is mostly about communication."

Dr. Zennia Paganini is the Cultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy. A Foreign Service officer for the Department of State since 2010, she has served in Damascus; Washington, DC; Tegucigalpa; Seoul; and Kuwait City. As the Cultural Attaché, she is responsible for U.S. Embassy-Kuwait's cultural and educational outreach, which comprises a variety of programs including Fulbright and other professional exchanges; educational advising; interactive events that showcase American artists, academics, and entrepreneurs; and alumni events that create new collaborative networks. Her Foreign Service career was preceded by a fourteen-year teaching vocation. As a medievalist specializing in thirteenth-century Spanish literature, she taught in universities in Scotland and the United States.

The AUK Center for Research in Informatics, Sciences, and Engineering (RISE) serves as AUK's primary source for research and development activities, a bridge to industry, and an important venue for community outreach. RISE adapts an integrative model by forging connections between academic disciplines, local & international innovators, academia & industry, as well as technology & society.

Dr. Amir Zeid , Director of RISE Center

The guest speaker, Dr. Zennia Paganini, U.S. Cultural Attaché

AUK President, Dr. Tim Sullivan and Dr. Zennia Paganini

General photo of the audience

General photo of the audience

General photo of the audience

Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 26th October 2017

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