Iceland Global Diplomacy 2011

Dr. Gregory Payne reflects on the Iceland Global Diplomacy Project

The Global Iceland Project witnessed another important step in helping bridge cultures and peoples, and especially making that connection among students who will be charting paths to solve the global problems.  Our trip to Iceland, made possible by the work of a former student Hlynur.Gudjonsson of the New York Icelandic Consulate, whose Emerson thesis was on place branding, who opened up vistas both geographically and intellectually. Our work and dialogue with professors and students from the University of Reykjavik and University of Iceland was a first step in projects and opportunities that will continue into the future. This fall we will work on a joint crisis communication management project virtually - followed by visits back to Iceland for the US students, and a trip to Boston for our Icelandic counterparts. We also enjoyed participating in enriching dialogues with political leaders and member of Parliament on the global financial crisis, environmental and cultural issues. Marketing strategies and campaigns designed to attract tourists to visit Iceland were outlined and discussed by award winning professionals from Iceland Naturally, Inspired by Iceland and Cohn & Wolfe Communications. Of course, who could forget the signature cuisine and sites of this brief but rich experience to Iceland?  

All of the Emerson students who participated in this endeavor have made meaningful relationships with their Icelandic cousins.  We also have established a new Pingvellar Club, named in recognition of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Iceland, which our group visited, where the European and North American plates are moving apart. The Club is dedicated to bridging the cultural gaps globally - through public diplomacy efforts in furthering understanding through communication. 

The unsurpassed beauty of Iceland and the friendly and generous nature of its people were evident to all of us who visited this magnificent island.  We thank Hlynur and all of his colleagues for  making this first trip possible.

Gregory Payne
May, 2011

Ying Wang's Reflections

Iceland was an eye-opening experience! I feel truly lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and learn from so many leading figures in the Icelandic community. It's not everyday a college student gets to engage in dialogue with a member of parliament about national affairs! The Icelandic people were so gracious and welcoming that it's hard not to immediately feel right at home. I was also very pleasantly surprised by all the natural wonders in this tiny island nation -- the geysirs, the waterfalls, the geothermal pools. It was an incredible experience!

Heather Corazzini talks about the trip

Our stay in Reykjavik, Iceland was an amazing experience. Without much prior knowledge of the Icelandic culture, I did not have many expectations. It was a wonderful surprise to find the Icelandic community as hospitable and conversational as they were. Since the weather was great, Christina Honeysett and I spent a day traveling the city on bikes. It was definitely a highlight of our trip; experiencing the landscape and outdoor activities of Reykjavik. Warm weather in Reykjavik is certainly taken advantage of by the public. Dining, beach gatherings, bike riding, hiking, and shopping were all enjoyed.

Meeting with the Parliament, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and local businesses helped our community better understand theirs. Participating in discussions both formally and informally not only educated us, but created an appetite for the future of this public diplomacy project. We’re looking forward to visiting again in the future!

Andrew Cassidy reflects on his experiences

Prior to partaking in the Iceland Global Diplomacy trip, my perception of Iceland had been manufactured by the local news media and the tourism industries - hot springs, volcanoes, and an economic crisis.  While these are all integral factors which constitute the uniqueness that is Iceland, they do not wholly represent the culture nor the people.  Having the opportunity to visit with Promote Iceland and discuss how it is they managed to spin the negativity of a volcanic eruption into a positive reason for people to visit demonstrated the importance of how a subject is framed. 

Meeting with members of parliament offered an invaluable insight into the inner workings of the Icelandic government, as well as into the way in which the interconnectedness of nations is inescapable.  The experience of presenting to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and discussing the need for and benefits of crisis communication allowed for me to prove the value of the communicative education I had learned thus far, in addition to being able to learn from the Ministry as well.  The wealth of knowledge and the caliber of experience I received from the diplomatic endeavor have reshaped my global perspective and provided me with new insight which will be utilized for years to come.

Pete Hall reflects on the Iceland experience

Prior to leaving for Iceland I was asked, “You're going to Iceland? Isn’t it Cold there?”....frankly I really did not know.  I knew they had volcanoes, and I knew of their tradition in fishing, but that was about it.  After returning to the United States and reflecting upon my over six days spent in Iceland, "Cold" was the adjective that I wouldn't even think to use in describing the people, the landscape, and the Country.  The warmth that we received from everyone involved in the Iceland Global Diplomacy project really made the trip a worthwhile and valuable experience for me and my fellow program participants.

From meeting with members of the Icelandic Government, to visiting the University of Reykjavik, attending a home cooked fish dinner at a Professor's home, attending meetings with numerous PR and Communication professionals, to bathing in the mineral rich Blue Lagoon, to sampling both the food & drink and the nightlife in Reykjavik.  Politically, Socially, and Professionally Iceland has it all.  I look forward to working in the future with the individuals that we connected with in our short stay, and I look forward to a return journey in upcoming months.  Thank You to all our hosts...and remember Boston is only 5 hours away by Plane!!!!!