“We need to learn from each other, to better understand our cultures and languages. Particularly those of us with a shared history.” US ambassador to Spain and Andorra James Costos inaugurated the new American Space in Madrid in front of an audience of students, representatives from the arts, journalists, and a few other diplomats last week.
There are already around 700 branches of the US cultural center in 196 countries and last year they attracted more than 16 million people. The Madrid office is financed by the State Department – which has provided €42,000 for this launch – and the International Institute in Spain, a privately run US cultural center that dates back to the late 19th century. “Both organizations have joined forces to foment cultural exchange,” said Margery Resnick, the president of the International Institute in Spain.
Spain’s first American Space opened in Valencia in 2013
American Space is active in five areas: teaching English; providing information about study programs in the United States; cultural activities; working with State Department students from the Fulbright and International Visitors Programs; and offering general information about the US.
All its activities are free and open to the public. The visit by ambassador Costos was the first in a series of inaugural events to be held at the American Space, which is located in the International Institute in Spain in Miguel Ángel street in central Madrid.
“The good thing about American Space being in the American Institute is that it can use its facilities,” said Jean Choi, the head of American Space in Madrid. Monday saw the center host EducationUSA, a higher education trade fair attended by representatives from a number of US universities.
“It's very exciting to be present at the opening of this second center in Spain,” said Costos shortly before cutting a ribbon printed with the US flag to officially open the center. The first American Space opened in Valencia in 2013. “One of the more interesting initiatives we have carried out there has been cleaning up the beaches. The students used the garbage they found to make recycled art,” said Costos.
Students at the Valencia branch used garbage they found cleaning up the beach to make recycled art” US Ambassador to Spain James Costos
“What motivates you to get out of bed to go to work in the mornings?” asked one student after Choi opened the room up to questions.
“I have a fantastic job; I spend my time improving and adding value to relations between my country and Spain,” replied Costos.
The young Jimmy never thought he would become an ambassador for his country: “It was something that just appeared in my life,” he said. “It is a job with a huge responsibility, but I learned young that when you get an opportunity you have to press ahead. And American Space Madrid is a place of opportunity.”