For the third consecutive year, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted “Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays” at the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the Department of State. This annual event honors the service, dedication and sacrifice of U.S. Government employees and their families who endure long periods of separation due to assignments in hardship posts around the world. This year, Empire worked with the Office of the Chief of Protocol to bring together a unique partnership with Internet voice & video phone service Skype to help bring these separated families together over the holiday season using new and innovative technologies.
Using Skype, families attending the event in Washington DC were able to celebrate and re-connect live in a meaningful way with their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and other loved ones serving at U.S. Embassies around the world. During the holiday event for approximately 350 guests a Skype Group Video call was initiated so that personnel around the world could view a live stream of the program hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Skype was also set up on several laptops outfitted with webcams around the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room for families to use.
During the event, children of U.S. diplomats serving unaccompanied tours, and children from the respective foreign embassies in Washington DC, also prepared Hallmark cards, recordable storybooks and art projects for those serving abroad. As an expression of gratitude, the completed projects were sent to the recognized hardship embassies for display during the holiday season.
The highlight of the event came during the stage remarks by Secretary of State Clinton and Ambassador Capricia Marshall when Jennifer Mauldin and her family came onstage to talk about the challenges of being apart from her husband. In the midst of her remarks a surprise reveal moment occurred when Jimmy Mauldin suddenly appeared live at the event via Skype video call from Pakistan where he is serving a year in the Economic Section at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. The family, children and the entire audience teared up during this touching digital reunion.
In honor of this event and inspired by the history and significance of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, interior designer Erinn Valencich created holiday decorations to complement the existing collections and colors in each room. The decorations would remain on display through the month of December in the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room, Thomas Jefferson State Reception Room and James Monroe Reception Room on the eighth floor of the Harry S Truman building. Every day, the Diplomatic Reception Rooms play host to the most senior levels of American diplomacy and showcase our nation’s heritage to visitors from around the world. These stately rooms are maintained without taxpayer or government funds.
Empire was honored to make the connection between its clients with the U. S. State Department and Skype and to develop what is sure to be a growing partnership in years to come.
A full transcript of the evening's remarks is available at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/12/178868.htm
You can learn more about starting to use Skype at http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/support/user-guides/start-skype/. You can also find more info about making video calls using Skype at http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/support/user-guides/video-calling/.
Empire is a leading producer of innovative events for clients in both the private and public sector and is honored to serve our country.