Soft power is precious because it is built upon trust earned over time. But trust requires a willingness to listen. Real friendship cannot survive in a one-way street, but thrives on mutuality and exchange.
The most successful cultural diplomacy strategy integrates people to people or arts/culture/media to people interactions into the basic business of diplomacy. The programs in Afghanistan, Egypt, and Iran all contribute to core goals of U.S. policy in those countries.
My generation stands to learn from the enfranchisement blueprint designed by Tunisian youth (ones taking cues from the Civil Rights movement). Americans of all generations stand to learn about Tunisians beyond their historic revolution.
Governmental cultural diplomacy can sometimes come off as forced or out-of-touch, but K-pop is an authentic reflection and spectacle of youth culture that is impressively close to the pulse of the "global cool."
The Rhythm Road facilitates not only cross-cultural discourse but also provides an extraordinary platform for artists to emerge from their own localism and share what they do, face-to-face, with the unknown.
During the first year of the Obama administration, expectations that cultural diplomacy would become a governmental priority were not met, despite the fact that the President made "cultural" references in his speeches overseas.