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U.S. Ambassador Discusses African Conflict with Upper School Students

12 April 2012 admin 4,538 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

By Dr. Scott Nelson, Upper School History Teacher

Introduced by senior Monika Laird, former U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone Thomas Hull gave a highly informative and engaging lecture last Thursday to Upper School students about the background of African conflict. This context is needed, he explained, to fully grasp why so many African countries face internal divisions, tribal strife, and, in many cases, civil war.

Ambassador Hull spent 22 years in Africa as a diplomat and Peace Corps teacher. He served as Ambassador to Sierra Leone and was Africa director at the U.S. Information Agency in Washington. After his diplomatic career, Ambassador Hull became the Warburg professor of international relations at Simmons College in Boston. He is currently an advisor on Africa for Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Ambassador Hull’s presentation also discussed both the positive and negative elements of the Kony 2012 campaign launched by the organization Invisible Children. Despite the campaign’s video containing many generalizations, misrepresentations, and factual errors, the Ambassador explained why he has concluded that the Kony 2012 campaign is, on balance, worthwhile. In a short amount of time and with very limited resources, Invisible Children has raised awareness about Africa and has demonstrated that social media can engage with a demographic group (teenagers and those in their early 20s) who typically do not receive their international news from traditional media outlets. Those are significant achievements that suggest how social media such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter might be used to raise further awareness in the interest of positive social change.

Indeed, the Ambassador surmised, social media has been at the forefront of recent democracy movements in the Arab world, in Russia and in China. The Kony 2012 campaign is yet another example of the dynamic potential that young people posses to affect the world and it is important that we acknowledge and understand that potential.


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