Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You Know, for Kids!

Remember when you were a kid and you used to beg your parents to drive you to the embassy? No? Neither do I, to be honest, but among the many embassy programs that have migrated online are youth outreach efforts. Not every country has a kid-friendly page on its website, but a quick tour around the Electronic Embassy Row uncovers some interesting finds.

The Kids Corner at the Embassy of Afghanistan, for example, includes photographs, an Afghan crossword and a slide show featuring handy facts about the country. Did you know Afghanistan is home to various nomadic tribes that traverse the country seasonally, called “Kuchis”? True! The Embassy of Chile offers "Basic Information" in English and Spanish for young visitors--or so they say. Both links took me to a Spanish-language site. Denmark and Ireland both go the educational route, providing school report-friendly facts for students and merit-badge seekers. One of the most impressive sites (in terms of interactivity, age-appropriateness, style and content) was Venezuela for Kids, which crams an astounding amount of information into an engaging, kid-friendly page.

If you're curious, the U.S. embassy has a kids page, too--but not directly. You have to follow a few links to the State Department and then to the youth page, which seems to be targeting U.S. youths more than foreigners. But there's a games page where Pat the Passport will guide you through some educational games (match the flags to the country!) and teach you why public diplomacy matters.

Many embassy pages contain information and presentations that, while not kid-specific, are suitable for young visitors. In terms of nation-branding, the kids pages reveal a lot about how the country wants to be viewed abroad. They almost universally eschew any mention of foreign policy, focusing instead on culture, history, geography and people. This is outreach without any agenda beyond basic education. All in all, however, this is an area with a lot of room for expansion. So let's say you've got a fancy grant and a cracker jack staff to help you out. What would you put on the U.S. for Kids page?


  1. You know, I actually lived with a real live Muncie girl for two years and she'd never even heard of that movie.