InfoUSA Košice Celebrates Five Years of Community Service with Drama, Song and Photo Exhibit
Chargé d'Affaires Keith Eddins' Remarks
Photo exhibit – Five Years of InfoUSA Programs in Slovakia
My enjoyable duty is to open an exhibit celebrating five years of InfoUSA in Slovakia. We are proud of the special role these centers play in their host libraries and in their communities.
As you look at the photos, what is readily apparent is the variety of people – officials, students, teachers, average citizens – these centers have hosted.
It is these people – the users of InfoUSA services – who are our first priority.
What do the users want from an American information center?
First, up-to-date and accurate information about the United States. And second, a chance to engage with Americans – officials and private citizens – in English about many current topics.
Let me give you some comparative numbers.
In 2006, the three centers hosted almost 250 events and were visited by over 3,500 people.
Last year, they hosted 311 events, a nice increase. But, perhaps more importantly, they were visited by over 6,000 people – almost twice as many as two years before.
What were these programs and events?
Among the most popular were the regular clubs devoted to film, literature, and English-language discussions. Embassy officers and other American experts also delivered various lectures – on Earth Day and environment, Black History Month and the U.S. presidential elections.
In fact, this center hosted a morning-after-the-election breakfast forum, linked by digital video conference to our Embassy event in Bratislava.
Video conference discussions are programs we enjoy. I have been one of the regular speakers on the InfoUSA Banska Bystrica’s digital link with Matej Bell university students. We agree on an article ahead of time, then then discussing spend an hour discussing it – while I remain in Bratislava at the Embassy. Perhaps we can set something similar up here?
I have now opened exhibits at all three InfoUSA centers – the others in Bratislava and Banska Bystrica. This is a perfect way for these centers to reach a young public – exhibiting works by young Slovaks and Americans.
We have even had live music performances by Roma musicians at the InfoUSA in Kosice. And, as I’ll be discussing tomorrow, encouraging integration of the Roma community into mainstream Slovak society is an important goal of my government.
Let me conclude by thanking the Ministry of Culture for its support, as well as our library partners and our coordinator, . I hope you enjoy the exhibit and I look forward to meeting you during the reception, although I will be slipping away for an hour to lead a discussion of Southern literature. Thank you.