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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

USA Pavilion 2012 World Expo Yeosu, Korea

Ann Stock
Assistant Secretary (R) 

Philippe Cousteau, Jr., Chief Spokesperson for USA Pavilion 2012
Washington, DC
April 24, 2012

10:00 A.M., EST


MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to the Foreign Press Center. We are excited to have you here today. It’s always exciting when we can talk about cultural exchange. I want to just flag a few things for your attention. If you have cell phones or any electronic devices, if you could please at this time either turn them to vibrate or turn them to silent position, we would appreciate it.

We are joined today by Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock and also joined by Philippe Cousteau, Jr., who is the chief spokesperson for the USA Pavilion, Yeosu, Korea 2012. And we are also joined by our USA Pavilion student-ambassadors.

Without further ado, I am going to turn the briefing over now to Assistant Secretary Stock.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Thank you, Andrea. Good morning and welcome. We’re just three weeks away from the opening of the 2012 World Expo in Yeosu, Korea, and we’re very excited about this important event. The Expo’s themes, the Living Ocean and Coast, encompasses issues that affect all of us. It’s a theme that we celebrated last Sunday on Earth Day and one that will echo throughout the summer.

The Expo is also an opportunity to showcase America’s commitment to the oceans. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has made environmental issues a priority at the State Department. We are engaging on these global challenges more than ever. The Republic of Korea couldn’t be a better partner in this work. Our participation in the Expo highlights our strong relationship both with the Republic of Korea and its people. We’re building on our recent environmental cooperation agreement and strengthening our people-to-people ties.

We understand that more than 7 million visitors are expected at the Expo, with 109 countries and international organizations participating. Millions more will engage online on the issues of preservation, resource management, and sustainable development.

Today, we’re proud to preview the USA Expo. You’ll see how we’re using innovative technologies and our 21st century diplomacy, and we’ll introduce our student-ambassadors.

And now, Philippe Cousteau, Jr., our chief spokesperson for Yeosu, will preview the USA Pavilion 2012. Philippe.

MR. COUSTEAU: Thank you so much, Assistant Secretary. It’s such an honor to be here this morning and share with you the wonderful story of the Pavilion. Before I do, however, I’d like to acknowledge two people in the audience here: Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Stout, who’s been a critical part of our team; and also the CEO of the USA Pavilion, Andrew Snowhite. He has really been driving this forward, and we are just thrilled and honored to be able to tell the story of the United States.

My family legacy goes back, of course, decades with my grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, and my father, Philippe Cousteau, Sr. And their work in ocean conservation and storytelling and inspiring millions and millions and millions of people for all the years through all the work that they did; my work, inheriting that legacy from them, has always also been storytelling and through my work at CNN, through my work at Earth Echo, the nonprofit I run, various different initiatives. It’s always been about engaging people.

And when this opportunity arose and when we were chosen in the bidding process at the State Department to represent the United States and to design the USA Pavilion, we were truly, truly honored. And when I was chosen to be spokesperson to tell this story, this wonderful story of the United States, it was certainly a highlight of my career.

Now, I should say that we have a couple of photos for you. This is a special sneak peak of the Pavilion itself. And what I realized when – or what we realized when we were working on this project is that there’s such a wonderful story to tell. I have to say I’m a little embarrassed that, as I was going through the research and thinking about the Pavilion, even I was struck by the diversity of the living oceans and coasts of the United States. And telling that story to a world audience is a spectacular opportunity.

Of course, Living Oceans and Coasts is the theme of the Expo, chosen by the Korean Government, and that is the theme of the entire Expo, and all the various different countries will be telling the story of their oceans and coasts at the Expo. However, I believe in all of our work, the United States has the most spectacular story to tell. We are the most diverse country with respect to types of oceans and coastal ecosystems in the world, from the Arctic down to the coast of California, the far Pacific, the Caribbean, the Gulf, New England.

The United States touches on a vast diversity of animals and habitats, and of course, the oceans are a huge part of our culture, they’re a huge part of our economy, and they’re just a critical part of America. Telling that story is a wonderful opportunity to tell the broader story of the diversity, wonder, hope, and solutions of the United States.

So with that, I want to take you on a little virtual journey through the Expo, as if we were going there ourselves this morning. In fact, we will pretend we’re going to visit the Expo right now.

Maybe. Nope. None of the arrows work. Anyone? Does anyone have control over this somewhere else? It’s not working. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, as always is the case with live TV, sometimes these things happen. Our tech staff is going to come in in just a second to check this. So just give us just a moment.

MR. COUSTEAU: So now, that being said, I can certainly continue talking. I’m good at that. (Laughter.) So as we were sitting through – the themes of the Pavilion itself are diversity, wonder, and solutions. And it’s a story to take people – not just to talk about the environment but really now the oceans are a critical part of our culture, they’re a critical part of our economy and our security, and the oceans are the life support system of this planet.

And so what we wanted to do was begin to explore – I think the computer froze. It’s okay. What we wanted to do was be able to tell the story of that relationship not only from an environmental perspective but from a cultural perspective as well. And as guests enter into the Pavilion, we’ll be leveraging amazing technology, and I’ll show you photos of that, hopefully momentarily. Do we need to just restart?

Technology – I was just going to point out that technology is a big part of the Pavilion, but I promise you we’ve got a couple weeks ahead of time to work out the kinks at the Pavilion. (Laughter.) Nothing will be freezing or kinking up.

But because technology is a wonderful opportunity to tell this story – again, the story of both the environment and the interaction with people and culture, because of course, the oceans, living oceans and coasts, are a huge – almost 50 percent of our population in the United States lives along the coast. We have a huge component of our economy is driven by fisheries and coastal – ocean commerce.

Of course, from a global perspective, we also want to acknowledge at the pavilion the importance of oceans for all people, not just our friends and partners in Korea, but our friends and partners around the world. The oceans provide 60 percent of our oxygen; they are a primary source of protein for well over a billion people around the world. The oceans regulate our climate. And of course, they are the life-support system – you’ll hear me probably say this a few times – the life-support system of this planet.

So it is far – I think long overdue to be able to tell this story. Oceans are oftentimes overlooked when we talk about environment. And this is an opportunity to give them the highlight that they deserve and take people on a journey, not only, again, through the diversity of the multitude of coastal habitats and environments, but also the types and ways that Americans interact with the ocean, the way that we see the ocean, from fishing and recreation and culture and food, telling – weaving this beautiful tapestry of that story and also acknowledging some of the challenges that we face.

At the USA pavilion, we certainly don’t want to gloss over some of the issues with respect to global ocean conservation, via fisheries management, via climate change issues, ocean acidification, but we touch on those. But it’s not in such a way that leaves to doom and gloom. We do want to acknowledge that, but really then explore how we are investing in innovation in the United States so much in renewable energy, in better ocean management through marine protected areas and better fisheries management, and tell the story of how we have hope for the future. A poignant ending towards the end of the main show is all about young people and all about the responsibility that we have to young people going forward.

MODERATOR: We are getting the PowerPoint presentation set up. What we will do, because a huge part of Philippe’s presentation is going to be to show you the visuals, our student-ambassador is here. Assistant Secretary Stock, would you like to introduce her? We will do that portion first to learn more about her experience, and then we’ll come back to our slideshow.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Well, the State Department conducts student-outreach programs that connect the youth of our two countries. It’s one of our favorite things to do is people-to-people diplomacy out at their young age. Yesterday, in fact, Philippe led a virtual exchange on ocean conservation, and students from Campbell High School in Ewa, Hawaii and from the Korea Science Academy of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Busan participated.

But the exciting part for us at the State Department is that at the expo, student-ambassadors will lead the way with about 40 of them participating from 31 U.S. universities in 19 states and the District of Colombia. They will serve as the public face of our people-to-people diplomacy efforts. They’ll greet people at – when people arrive and start to go through the expo experience. And in partnership with the University of Virginia, they were selected to present the future of America throughout our pavilion. People under the age of 30 are 60 percent of the world’s population, and we need to engage them. Soon, they’ll be tomorrow’s leaders, and we see these 40 young people as tomorrow’s leaders, particularly in the relationship between the United States and Korea.

I am very pleased to have four of the student-ambassadors with us today, and I’d like each of them to stand as I recognize them. First is Rachel Gellerfrom George Mason University, Will Kim from George Washington University, Hanna Park from American University, and Brittany Alexander, who will be the spokesperson for the student-ambassadors today. Currently, Brittany is a senior at George Washington University here in Washington D.C. majoring in international affairs. Last year, she studied abroad in Seoul at Yonsei University. We’re thrilled that these four young people will be among the 40 that will be representing the United States in the U.S. Pavilion.


STUDENT-AMBASSADOR: (In Korean.) Thank you all again for coming today. As she mentioned, I’m an international affairs major at the George Washington University, right here in Washington, D.C., but I’m originally from Rochester, New York.

U.S.-Korean relations have really always been of great interest to me. So when I first heard about the opportunity to participate in the student-ambassador program, I knew I had to apply. I see my participation in the Yeosu World Expo as a great way to gain experience and building U.S. foreign relations on the ground level, as well as to better understand the importance of preserving the world’s oceans and coastlines.

I’m really excited to get the chance to teach others about my country as well as learning about theirs. I hope to create a bridge between our cultures and to learn about more ways in which we can work together to achieve stability, both environmentally and geopolitically.

I also hope to use the knowledge that I will gain from this experience in order to someday create a better future for U.S.-Korean relations politically, culturally, and environmentally. I’d like to thank you for your time. (In Korean.)

MODERATOR: So we will now lead with our PowerPoint presentation.

MR. COUSTEAU: Right. Well, before I want to thank you Brittany. Good heavens. (Applause.)

The student ambassadors really are the heroes of this pavilion. And technology, such as it is, is a critical part of telling the story of the oceans and coasts at the pavilion, but really it’s going to be the human face that the ambassadors put on the United States and the interaction with the millions of visitors to the USA pavilion that will make this experience and this entire expo such a success, in my opinion.

Now, so as I pointed out, and I wanted to take you – where are my notes? I think my notes got mixed up in here somewhere. Here they are. I want to take you on a little journey through the pavilion. Pretend that you just flew in to Yeosu Airport in Korea, and this is what you see. Expo signage is everywhere. There is no question that you are in Yeosu and that the Expo 2012 is happening there. So this is just part of the multitude of branding that is happening throughout the town.

Here is a very wide shot of the expo, of the entire expo area. You have the international pavilion and the O, the big O, which is a interactive multimedia presentation and show that will be putting on events every single night. It will be a centerpiece of the experience at the expo. You have, as I pointed out, the international pavilion, which is – where the – I think that’s – would it be on the right? Yes. And where all the – there it is, international pavilion, where all the experience and all the countries will be housed with the various different pavilions.

You also have some photographs. This is where all of the team and the student ambassadors – this is the housing with various different amenities where they will be spending their time over the course of those two and a half months – or three months, excuse me. And this is a beautiful water view from one of the apartments out looking over the expo site.

This is another view out over the actual theme pavilion with the hotel. This is also out looking over the expo site. We have the large O again in the center of the water there. And this is the – looking straight onto the international pavilion. And where you see the American flag, that is where the USA pavilion will be. We are right in the middle of it, right in the thick of things, right on the second floor, beautiful viewing deck there out overlooking the expo. That is where the USA pavilion will be. So we certainly have a top branding location at the expo.

The way we’ve broken up the experiences into three main parts, you see a pre-show, a main show, and a post-show. And of course, we have a VIP area and a back of house. That’s just means where all the computers and the facilities and offices are stored. When guests line up to enter into the USA pavilion, we are already going to be engaging them with knowledge and information. We have – we’re leveraging technology in QR codes, et cetera, as ways for people to engage while they’re lining up with their cell phones, very popular technology that’s used in Korea, and be providing information and tidbits at different levels, some of the kids, for adults, facts, figures, acknowledging our partners, et cetera while people line up.

Then they will enter into the pre-show. This is a photo of the pre-show. Of course, it’s still – all of this is still under final construction and these photos a few days old at least. But what they will enter and be faced with is a huge wall of water that will – where you see that screen with those white drapes – a huge wall of actual water will be falling in front of them that is a projection-able surface. I have a rendering of what that will look like right here. So we’ll be able to project images of the oceans in the initial pre-show welcoming of the guests into the pavilion with this technology. It’s just a spectacular technology, cutting-edge, that we think will really begin to engage the guests right away, and there will be no question where they are and what the theme of the pavilion is.

Following the end of the pre-show, which is only a few minutes long, the water will part like a curtain, and the doors will light up. It’s actually the main show. Guests will walk into – I should back up perhaps – guests will walk through those doors right where the water screen was just moments before, very dramatic and spectacular experience, into the main show, which is roughly about 70 feet long and somewhere about 25 feet or so tall. It is a huge high-definition screen that will absolutely immerse the audience in the story that we are going to tell in the main show.

We will then – as a rendering of what that looks like, it will be a tapestry type of experience where we can have different images flowing in and out and unfolding in a very dynamic way with the sound – surround – speaker sound you can’t even imagine. The sound will – is also really designed to immerse you in this experience, as you see the diversity and the story of the people and the culture of the United States and our relationship with the living oceans and coasts.

Following that, you will exit into a post-show area which will have a small retail section. We’ll recognize some of our partners. And you’ll also have an opportunity to – also to have additional information. And then there is the VIP area – a little rugged now, but I swear that we will get it clean. It’s just in the middle of a construction here. It’s going to look beautiful when it’s done. So you’re seeing a little sneak peak behind the scenes. This is not the final product at the VIP section, where we’ll be able to put on events, host dignitaries, et cetera, because we know always that the USA pavilion is the must-visit destination at these expos, and we are thrilled to be able to provide a world class experience that we believe is up to the task of telling the amazing story of the United States.

And I finish here with a photograph of some of our team on the ground there who are working so hard – and this is just a fraction of them – to make this a reality when we open in just a few weeks. So with that, I know we are running a little late on time, so I will close up and thank you all.

Oh, excuse me, in my rush, I did want to mention, though, one thing – technology. I brought that up in the very beginning. One of the – technology is a critical tool and resource to be able to reach out to people. And in recognition of that, as I mentioned, it’s reaching outside of not only technology in the pavilion, but outside the pavilion through the internet. And one of the pieces that we’ll be acknowledging and working with and promoting and using is the Amazing Ocean app that the U.S. State Department has partnered with the Smithsonian Natural History Museum on. I was on the advisory board of the Ocean Hall, Sant Ocean Hall at the Natural History Museum. And we’re very proud of that physical space, that – telling the story of oceans – global oceans and coasts.

But along with that has been a growing commitment by the Smithsonian to begin to leverage the internet and new technologies. And they’ve launched this internet – this phone app called the Amazing Ocean app that is a brand new mobile app that brings all the content from the Ocean Portal, which is the online version of the Ocean Hall, to life for people around the world. It’s in multiple different languages, including Korean, and it really helps to provide an interactive and digitally based element of the ocean story that we want to tell. So we are thrilled that we’re able to work with Smithsonian and promote the Amazing Ocean app. It’s downloadable on Android or on – I have it – on Android or iPhone, and it’s just one of a multitude of technologies that are planned by the State Department in its partnership with the Smithsonian.

So again, we are really looking at how do we leverage technology, the human experience, and really create an amazing, amazing story for the millions of people who will come through, and our friends and partners in Korea. So with that --

MODERATOR: All right. So we’re going to open up the floor now for questions. If you do have a question, I ask that you just would state your name and your news organization before asking. So with that, we’ll take questions from the audience. We’ll give New York a few minutes also to queue up. If there are questions there, we’re happy to take them.

QUESTION: Good morning. My name is Chidong Lee from South Korea’s Yonghap News Agency. I got two questions for Secretary Ann Stock: Would you please brief us on how you selected the student-ambassadors? I mean, how many people applied for the program, and other details? And second, I’m just wondering if you have a plan to send any official delegation to the Yeosu Expo (ph), whether it is opening ceremony or some – if it is the case, who’s going to lead the delegation? Thanks.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Okay. Well, the good news is, in working with the University of Virginia in partnership, there were a number of young people who applied – many, many more than we could take.

MR. COUSTEAU: Over a hundred, actually.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Over – yeah, I was going to say over a hundred people applied. We found that just amazing and wonderful, because again, the whole precept behind the student ambassadors is people-to-people relations. So what that says to us is that the future of the U.S.-Korea relationship is in good shape because we have a lot of young people who were both speaking the language, studying, as you referred. That’s, I think, where you want to spend your career, and I think we are seeing a lot of these hundred young people – that’s where they’ll spend their future.

As far as an official U.S. delegation, there is a delegation that will go. I do not have any details on it. That will unfold as we get closer to the event. But suffice to say, there will be there a delegation that will go to Korea for the expo.

MR. COUSTEAU: And I just wanted to add that while these students are representatives here in the Washington, D.C. area, we have student-ambassadors from across the United States. The application was open to residents or citizens of the U.S. who were proficient in Korean and of college age, and we had well over a hundred incredible applications. It was one of the hardest jobs that we had as – running the Exida pavilion was deciding who would be – we were spoiled for choice – who would be the students. So they are – they represent the entire United States, not just from this region, though these students are from Washington, D.C.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: And it is the entire United States, but 19 specific states are represented, so we’re very proud of that fact.

MODERATOR: We’re going to go now to New York. New York, would you go ahead, please?

QUESTION: Yeah. Good morning, Washington, D.C. Alex Ospiov. My question is about money issues. So of course, the participation in such kind of the event, like a worldwide expo, is more image solution for the states and other participant country. But about – anyway, it’s profitable or non-profitable for the U.S. budget, and who will fulfill such kind of the expenses for the U.S. participation?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: It was a public-private partnership and it is – $10 million were raised for the effort.

QUESTION: My second question: Today in the 21st century in the digital world, it may be more efficient to organize such kind of the event in the internet because we can compare the number of the visitors. 10 million during all the exhibition and millions and maybe billions of visitors to the webpage. So maybe it’s more reasonable to now – today, to organize such kind of the event in the digital world – I mean, not the real presence in Korea and different countries, just to build, to organize such kind of the exhibition, such kind of the show in internet.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: It’s about the internet?

MR. COUSTEAU: I’m not sure.

QUESTION: Is it maybe --

MODERATOR: I think the question is: Is it better to have such events hosted digitally as opposed to a physical location now with the rise of technology?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Well, personally, I believe, and I think we believe at the State Department, both are needed. Nothing will ever replace face-to-face, people-to-people contact. That is always going to be important. Digitally, though, it’s key for us to make sure that as many people see the expo, see the pavilion, learn about the issues of the ocean and the environment. So I think digitally, that will help us take the message worldwide to people who might not have the opportunity to visit the expo. So we see it as a win-win on both, both digitally and people-to-people, but we very much believe with the 40 ambassadors that people to people on the ground in Korea is very important, but we’ll enhance that digitally.

MODERATOR: We’ll take questions here in D.C. Do we have other questions in our audience here?

Okay. And do we have questions – any additional questions from our colleagues joining us in New York?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Thank you very much. We’ll look forward to seeing everybody starting May 12th to August 12th in Yeosu, Korea. We’ve very excited about this project. Thank you very much.

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