America's Unofficial Ambassadors

We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.

AUA on Everyday Ambassador

Favorite Blog Throwback #5 – Originally posted Nov. 21, 2012

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AUA Director Ben Orbach penned this piece about citizen diplomacy for the blog of the Everyday Ambassador initiative. On Dec. 6, Everyday Ambassador Founder and Director Kate Otto will host a special AUA webinar about building people-to-people partnerships as a volunteer abroad. The webinar will take place at noon, eastern standard time. To RSVP for the event, e-mail stefanc(at)

America’s Unofficial Ambassadors to the Muslim World

It was almost 10 years ago at Jordan University in Amman that I met Sundos, a 19-year old sophomore. Little did I know that helping a muhajiba, or head-covered young woman, with her English homework would change my life.

It was the fall of 2002. I was a graduate student of Middle East Studies, and I’d moved to Jordan that summer for a year-long fellowship to improve my Arabic. I saw Arabic as a key to gaining a first-hand understanding of America’s challenges in the Middle East. It was less than a year after the 9/11 attacks, and I saw an opportunity to pursue answers to thequestions that plagued so many of us.

While improving my Arabic was a driving force in my decision to go to Jordan — and in many of my choices while I was there — my motivations for moving to Jordan and then for traveling around the Middle East were more complicated. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks and on the eve of war with Iraq, I was struck with how wrong America’s relations with the Arab World seemed. From my perspective, as a 27-year old graduate student, “wrong” was the most appropriate word to describe what should have been a multi-faceted and nuanced relationship that was instead reduced to stereotypes, generalizations, and short-sighted decision making  at all levels, from popular questions of “why do they hate us?” to policy decisions of war and peace. Read more.

Kate Otto is a public health professional who is featured in the eBook “Disruptive Women in Healthcare.” Currently, she works with the World Bank, USAID and the Massachusetts General Hospital. She also writes for the Huffington Post and recently authored a piece for the Christian Science Monitor on the importance of citizen diplomacy in the Muslim World. Kate is also now writing a book called Everyday Ambassador: How to Be a Global Citizen in a Digital World. Kate spoke at the TEDxUNC conference earlier this year. Here’s a look at her talk on Everyday Ambassadorship.

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This entry was posted on December 5, 2013 by in AUA Network, AUA Staff, Volunteer Related and tagged , , , , , , .
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