The US ambassador to the UK visited the college's Digbeth Campus to talk with students about the role of diplomacy in world relations and to get their views on political issues [Thursday 6 February 2014].
Ambassador Matthew Barzun delivered an interactive talk with clickers allowing students to respond to multiple-choice questions on US/UK relations and the role each country plays in global politics; he later opened up the floor to allow students to air their views and ask questions on matters including equality, Syria and the power of corporations.
The purpose of the visit was for Ambassador Barzun to engage with young people from a range of backgrounds to get a better understanding of their opinions on world and national issues. The US Embassy is looking to regularly interact with youth audiences as part of their public diplomacy mission. The ambassador spoke to 30 students from IT and business courses for just over an hour.
Ambassador Barzun has been in post since last summer having been appointed by President Barrack Obama. He has previously been a US ambassador to Sweden and worked in sourcing finance for Obama's two presidential campaigns.
When asked about his visit to the college, Ambassador Matthew Barzun said: "I loved coming in today to talk to the students. It's always good to listen to what they have to say as well as learn from it and feed it back."
Student union president, Selmah Habib, spent the morning showing Ambassador Barzun around the campus: "I really enjoyed the talk by Matthew today, there were a number of interesting debates covered which was very enlightening. It was also inspiring to see how governments try to work together on global issues."
Principal Mike Hopkins said: "I think it's great to have been selected by the ambassador who was particularly interested in listening to what our students had to say on big issues. It shows the standard of excellence the college has with people −with credentials such as Matthew's − wanting to come visit us."
The visit has now formed a relationship between the college and the US embassy who will now look to work together in future ventures.