Friday, December 12, 2008

Recent Meetings

I've periodically updated this blog with boasts about some of the interesting people I've met or encountered in my day-to-day life as an international business reporter. The last update was August, so I figure it's time for another.


-Kursad Tuzmen - a charismatic leader who swam the Bosporus Strait, Tuzmen is Turkey's foreign trade minister. I didn't meet him, but I did see him at a breakfast with Coke CEO Muhtar Kent.

-Charles Stith - former U.S. ambassador to Tanzania under Clinton, now director of the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at Boston University. Just edited a book compiling writings from former African heads of state on the challenges that face the leaders of their respective countries.

-Antonio Patriota - Brazil’s ambassador the U.S. Mr. Patriota could've been high-brow, but he was a diplomat to the core, courteous and thoughtful, eloquent and pensive. I spoke with him uninterrupted for about 15 minutes at an event celebrating Atlanta's new Brazilian consulate. We talked about the state of Brazil-U.S. relations, energy in Brazil, his former diplomatic post in Beijing, and how he loves to go the High Museum of Art when he's in Atlanta.

-Pierre Vimont - French ambassador to the U.S. I had to present an award on behalf of my company to Mr. Vimont in front of an audience of more than a hundred people. Talk about nerve-racking.

-Shirley Franklin - Atlanta mayor. You can say a lot of things about Shirley, but you can't say she's not a nice gal. I spoke to her at the High Museum, where she told me that she was head of Atlanta's cultural affairs 25 years ago, her "favorite job."

-Henri Loyrette - the day after presenting our special report on the Louvre Atlanta partnership to the French ambassador, I got to meet Mr. Loyrette, the president and director of the Louvre. I interviewed him in front of a huge lion sculpture that leads into the Louvre Atlanta exhibit.

-Zhou Wenzhong - Chinese ambassador to the U.S. The High Museum has been a happening place in the past few months. I've covered the opening of the Louvre exhibit's final year there, and I was also on hand for a media preview of the terracotta army exhibition. The 2,200-year-old figures and related artifacts come from the tomb of Qin Shihuang Di, the first emperor who unified China's warrings states. See another attempt at a video report.

-Friis Arne Petersen - Danish ambassador to the U.S. I interviewed him before he gave a speech on what could potentially be a scary topic: the EU as a rising superpower.

-Paul Oram - Minister of business, Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Apparently they have more than just well-known dog breeds in the northeast Canadian province. Oil and gas was the "savior" when there was a moratorium on cod that paralyzed the economy and caused communities to shut down. Now, the province is diversifying.

-Faida Mitifu - Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the U.S. I found out she has a house in Columbus. She taught at Columbus State University and maintained her place there because she liked my hometown so much.

-Andrew Young - former Atlanta mayor, Georgia congressman and ambassador to the United Nations. I couldn't help but feel like I was sitting across from history. Mr. Young, a prominent civil rights activist in the 1960s and beyond, was there on the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot.

-Tom Kloet
- CEO of the Toronto Stock Exchange. Most of what he said I didn't understand. Let's just be honest.

-King Tut - a bunch of artifacts from the boy king's tomb have made their way to Atlanta. The exhibition at the Atlanta Civic Center puts Tutankhamun in the historical context of all the great pharaohs in an informative and entertaining way.

-Ojo Maduekwe - Nigeria's foreign minister. Mr. Maduekwe delivered a speech on Obama's election and its implications for Africa. He was very thoughtful and gracious enough to speak with my publisher and I to make sure we understand what's going on.

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