Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Gunther K. Rosinus
ROSINUS: I see. Well, this was a project that Ed Mattos had put together as cultural officer in the Philippines a few years before I came and, as I say, it had brought students together to deal with such questions as democratic growth and development and things of that sort.So, we took the idea of putting student leaders together and then we determined how these students could best be selected and put together in a much longer seminar setting and then we reformulated the whole approach in terms of what the subject matter should be and the nature of the speakers and so forth and moved on into this seminar series. It did demonstrate the unity of public affairs approaches, I thought very well, and here is where I quote again from this point I made earlier about the fallacy that information and cultural programs are separate and separable. I wrote at that time that an actual field example could perhaps best illuminate this fallacy:“The recent (1977) Leonard Marx Foundation Award for creative communication in public diplomacy was given for a project toward Philippine student leaders during a time of rising anti-American sentiment and challenge to the American presence.“It was a project that ultimately had impact far wider than the students involved and reached even onto the floor of the Philippine constitutional convention. [We can talk about that a little after I finish this little quote.]“Essentially the project was a five-day seminar, that is, a cultural/academic framework. Within the seminar, the discussions centered on developmental policies and on U.S.-Philippine relations, which was an informational exercise. After the seminar, selected student attendees were chosen for the Pacific Student Leader project, which was an exchange program activity. From the seminar came a series of publications distributed throughout the Philippine Islands and other places, which was a book and publications project.“None of these elements in themselves could have had nearly the effect that the totality of the package did have, a fact that supports in microcosm the contention and experience of every good PAO for the last twenty years, that the sum of all public affairs tools applied in a meaningful fashion is greater than its parts; and that goes double for all the elements of USIA and State/CU, including the Voice of America.”So, that was a point I made subsequent to those seminars in a later writing. But to get back to the seminar, what were some of the impacts? Well, for one thing, there were clear and identifiable changes of mind among a significant number of the student leaders away from emotional radicalism and, interestingly enough, many of them ended up in important positions within their own society, dealing with some of the realities and complexities they had come to appreciate during the seminars.Many went into opposition during martial law and remained in opposition, came out again with the new government. So, in a sense, our contacts in those days helped bridge the transference from the martial law regime with which we had been dealing to contact with the new government of Mrs. Aquino. One of the guys, for example, who attended the seminar is now a senior advisor to the Foreign Minister. A number of the resource people whom we used at that time are now in government with Mrs. Aquino.Others of the former students are involved in international affairs of various kinds; others are in banking and in economic institutions and in universities at high levels. Interestingly enough, they formed their own alumni group, having some pride in being Tagaytai graduates, which continued to bring them together and provided contact with the embassy.When I went back in 1980 to the Philippines, some, eight years after the last seminar that I had led, some thirty or forty gathered for a special party again, as graduates of the seminar. All of it is to me a confirmation that there was some real intellectual and emotional impact through this integrated approach to public diplomacy.The books, I am sure, have been well used throughout the Islands and beyond.