EWC's Asia Pacific Leadership Program Fellows Discuss Digital Strategy with White House Social Media Experts

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APLP fellows gather with the White House social media team.On the first day of their Washington, D.C. field study, EWC’s Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) fellows met with the White House Office of Digital Strategy (a.k.a. the Twitter Team). They discussed how for the first time, a U.S. President is using social media platforms to amplify the Administration’s message and directly interact with the American public. “Being from Indonesia, this is very new for me,” remarked Ismail Sulaiman, APLP fellow and head lecturer of communications at the State Islamic College Cot Kala in Aceh.  “Of course we are online, but this is actively exchanging information with the U.S. President’s staff; and the staff is really listening and learning from the people.” Surprised by the young age of the White House social media team members, APLP fellow Nischal Anand Singh noted, “Their passion as young people was infectious!  They were all very impressive.”

Just 12 hours after seeing him debate Governor Romney, the fellows watched President Obama depart by helicopter from the White House gardens.  The access was exciting for fellows who came from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.  APLP Fellow Duan Wei said, “I’ve lived 30 years in China and never visited Zhongnanhai (central headquarters of the Communist Party of China), but my first day on the U.S. mainland, I’ve visited the President’s house.”

East-West Center’s extensive network opened doors for APLP fellows throughout the trip, providing access to a wide range of leaders including an APLP alumnus who is a former presidential appointee to the Pentagon, serving as an East Asia advisor; and U.S. State Department Directors of Public Diplomacy for East Asia and the Pacific, and South and Central Asia, among others. Jonathan Henick, former EWC Diplomat-in-Residence, now serving as a State Department Director of Public Diplomacy, told the fellows: “The East-West Center is a pioneer in building relationships with Asia.  You are joining this incredible club of people that have connections with the East-West Center… It facilitates a bilateral relationship between you and the U.S., but also fosters a network for all to move forward.”