Jan1220096:59 am

Basketball diplomacy

I went to the Georgetown-Providence basketball game this past Saturday and, at halftime, they decided to do something a little different. Instead of the usual—cheerleaders flouncing to an Akon remix or some kid from the stands awkwardly missing shots in a contest—they showed a video on the Jumbotron of a trip taken by several former Georgetown basketball players to Herceg Novi, Montenegro to conduct a basketball camp for boys and girls between 13 and 16. The trip was led by Sead Dezdarevic, a former Georgetown player originally from Montenegro, and was co-sponsored by the Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro. A preview of the trip in the Washington Post here and a recap on the Georgetown athletic site here. The purpose of the trip was of course to teach the participants in the camp basketball skills, but certainly extended beyond that. Said a public affairs officer in the Embassy:

Basketball is a passion for most Balkan countries. Bringing basketball players here enables the embassy to be in contact with younger people and people who could, quite frankly, care less about foreign policy. It’s a way where you don’t actually hear a lecture about a culture, you see it in action. It’s a cross-cultural experience.

The video that was shown at the game on Saturday isn’t yet available, but I’ll track it down as soon as it is and post it here.

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