More than 30 ambassadors representing countries on four continents visited the area Tuesday as part of a three-day tour of the state to showcase Arkansas’ unique and diverse history, and to explore its cultural and historical landmarks.
The trip is part of a program called “Experience America” which gives diplomats stationed in the United States a chance to visit areas of the country they might not normally see as part of their mission.
The idea is to strengthen America’s relationships with countries around the world by planting seeds for new international partnerships and providing diplomats with a deeper understanding of the nation’s people and heritage.
The ambassadors and their spouses were in Little Rock on Sunday and Monday for a tour of the Clinton Presidential Center, a roundtable discussion with Governor Mike Beebe and business leaders at the Little Rock Club, and a panel discussion with members of the Little Rock Nine at Little Rock Central High School.
The group visited Northwest Arkansas on Tuesday for a tour of the University of Arkansas’ Fayetteville facilities, meetings with local and regional business representatives, and to explore the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.
U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall leads the week’s events. Marshall, who worked for Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign in 1992, has since served as Special Assistant to former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Deputy Assistant to the President (Clinton) and White House Social Secretary, among other Clinton-associated positions.
In a recent op-ed for Arkansas Times, Marshall professed her love for Arkansas.
“It is no wonder that President Clinton, Dr. Maya Angelou, Sen. J. William Fulbright, Johnny Cash and so many other American legends hail from this very special place,” wrote Marshall. “The ambassadors will no doubt leave with a new appreciation for the natural beauty, burgeoning economic development, and remarkably kind people that have defined Arkansas.”