The U.S. Department of State and the Office of the Chief of Protocol are proud to announce the 26th Experience America trip to Austin, Texas with members of the foreign Diplomatic Corps, March 8-10, 2020. More than 35 foreign ambassadors – representing countries across five continents – will join Chief of Protocol of the United States Cam Henderson to engage local business and community leaders and spotlight a vibrant American city. Led by the U.S. Department of State, Experience America connects foreign ambassadors with academic, business, community, and cultural leaders with the goal of building relationships to promote economic investment, commerce, and dialogue. Experience America takes diplomats out of Washington to show them our remarkable country and everything it has to offer. More than 100 countries have participated in Experience America trips since its inception in 2008. The capital of Texas, Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and serves as the center of an exciting range of academic, research, and technological activities in the American southwest. From the earliest settlers to today’s entrepreneurs, the American Dream thrives in Austin and has transformed the city into a global hub for technology, startups, and innovation. With pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies concentrating within the city in recent years, an increasing number of Fortune 500 companies have headquartered or launched regional offices within the city. In addition to a robust economy, Austin is a vibrant, high-energy cultural destination, home to many culinary, cultural, and historic landmarks that pay tribute to the people and traditions of the Lone Star State. Austin has Sister City relationships with cities in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, Lesotho, Mexico, Nigeria, the People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Turkey, and the United Kingdom to promote cultural understanding and stimulate economic development. Over three days, participating diplomats will hear how research, technology, and entrepreneurship have transformed the region and powered innovation that changes and improves individuals, countries, and societies. Experience America will help to build relationships between the visiting ambassadors and companies and leaders across Texas, and in the process, open doors for local organizations eager to develop global partnerships and investment possibilities.
The following events are open to the press:
Sunday, March 8, 5:30 p.m. – Welcome Reception at the Driskill Hotel – Foreign ambassadors will meet and interact with the state’s top business and cultural leaders. The event will feature remarks by local and state representatives, including the Chief of Protocol of the United States Cam Henderson, Texas Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughes, and Mayor of Austin Steve Adler.
Monday, March 9, 8:00 a.m. – Discussion and Tour of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library – The LBJ Presidential Library, located on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, is one of 14 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. Director of the LBJ Presidential Library, Mark Atwood Lawrence, a presidential historian and scholar on President Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War, will deliver remarks to the ambassadors and discuss President Johnson’s relations and diplomacy with other countries during his administration. Dedicated in May 1971, the Library’s mission is to preserve and protect the historical materials in its collections and make them readily accessible; increase public awareness of the American experience through relevant exhibitions and educational programs; and to advance the LBJ Library’s standing as a center for intellectual activity and community leadership while meeting the challenges of a changing world.
Monday, March 9, 10:00 a.m. – Visit to the University of Texas at Austin –- While at the University of Texas at Austin, ambassadors will visit the world-famous Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and Frank Denius Family University of Texas Athletics Hall of Fame. Commemorating a storied tradition across Texas –- while highlighting current student-athletes across the 20-sport athletics program –- visitors are greeted by an impressive 8-foot tall, 1,200-pound Longhorn statue honoring one of the nation’s largest and most storied collegiate mascots and athletic programs. Ambassadors will be welcomed by UT Austin President Dr. Gregory Fenves and Senior Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Chief International Officer Dr. Sonia Feigenbaum before proceeding to the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). There, ambassadors will witness some of the world’s most powerful computing resources, which enable discoveries that advance science and society and will have an opportunity to experience the interactive technologies at the lab. TACC Industrial Programs Director Melyssa Fratkin will present on the wide range of research topics TACC supports at UT Austin and around the United States — including Hurricane Harvey/Dorian, cancer, pandemics, rocket design, black holes, and opioid addiction.
Monday, March 9, 1:00 p.m. – Technology Briefing at Dell Technologies –- Rich Rothberg, General Counsel of Dell Technologies, will deliver remarks to the ambassadors about Dell Technologies’ history, vision, and 2030 social impact goals. Additionally, Dell Technologies’ Chief Technology Officer Paul Perez will discuss the positive impact of digital transformation and how it has the power to revolutionize various industries. Ambassadors will conclude their visit with a tour of Dell Technologies’ Solutions Center, witnessing the latest in virtual and augmented reality, cloud and hyper-converged computing, and how collaboration and technology are transforming workplaces globally. Ultimately, the ambassadors will see first-hand how Dell Technologies is contributing to the Austin community, and innovating around the world.
Tuesday, March 10, 8:15 a.m. – Breakfast Roundtable with Austin Chamber and the Leadership of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – Ambassadors will join the Austin Chamber, with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, for a breakfast panel with key innovators across the Austin community.
Tuesday, March 10, 11:45 a.m. – Visit to Freedom Solar Power Company – Lila Ontiveros, Vice President of Business Development at Freedom Solar, will address the growth of solar power in Texas, one of the energy capitals of the world. Solar plays a key role in the global energy transition that is simultaneously solving for higher demand and a lower carbon footprint. Since 2007, Freedom Solar has been a market leader in Texas turnkey solar panel installations. By providing high-quality, cost-effective, reliable solar and backup power solutions for residential and commercial markets, Freedom Solar has installed more than 67 megawatts of solar power for more than 5,000 homeowners and hundreds of corporate clients including Whole Foods and The University of Texas at Austin. The company has donated solar to organizations in Texas and worldwide, including the installation of an off-grid system at A Child’s Hope orphanage in La Montagne, Haiti in 2017.
The ambassadors’ visit to Austin will also include closed-press activities, such as a briefing with the Texas National Guard, a tour of the Bullock Texas State History Museum, demonstrations at ICON, a tasting at Still Austin Whiskey Co., and other visits to the region’s top cultural attractions.
For more information and to RSVP for one or multiple events, please contact Tim Gowa at GowaTM@state.gov by March 7 at 5:00 p.m.