Office of the Spokesperson
Five winners will receive the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA) at a ceremony on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the Department of State.
SOSA awards recognize U.S. government employees; family members, including domestic partners; and other members of household at embassies and consulates who performed exceptional volunteer service to their communities, mission or host country, or rendered outstanding assistance in emergencies. This year's award winners are:
Marcus W. Lamb -Dares; Salaam, Tanzania
Marcus worked closely with a local organization, Apps and Girls, which promotes IT skill building for Tanzanian girls ages 14-24 who cannot continue their traditional education. After teaching two courses, Marcus recognized the need for a dedicated curriculum, and he developed an overarching program in cooperation with the organization's instructors. He also found free resources to supplement teaching materials to enhance the new curriculum. Marcus went a step further and provided workshops on sum building and interviewing skills, as well as an e-mentoring program, for which he sought out advice from female IT professionals within the Department of State and the private sector. With his example and encouragement, Marcus also inspired other embassy staff to volunteer.
Jennifer Yan; Phnom Penh, Cambodia
During her three years at post, Jennifer actively pursued numerous activities to help the local community. She donated her time, goods and meals to local charities and non-profit organizations, including Feed the Hunger and New Hope for Cambodian Children, an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS. Jennifer provided continuity and sustainability by ensuring that the embassy continued to work with these organizations after her departure. A dynamic member of the embassy community, Jennifer volunteered at many embassy events, including Breakfast with Santa, Eggstravaganza and welcome BBQs. She also oversaw the CLO library and administered the Facebook page for embassy families. Jennifer was an active parent volunteer at her children's school, where she organized the American booth at the school fair.
Carlos D. Perez; Frankfurt, Germany
Carlos brought to Frankfurt a wealth of knowledge and understanding of post morale issues, following 23 years of Army service. He immediately found ways to support the consulate community based on family priorities he had learned in the Army. Carlos worked with T-Mobile to get a representative at post during staff turnover periods to assist with cell phone setup. He took on an active role in the Community Support Association (CSA), reducing massive existing debt, reorganizing the budget, and trimming costs. Through the CSA, Carlos created a small business hub in an unused CSA building, providing a platform for Eligible Family Members (EFMs) and Locally Employed Staff to set up business opportunities, which included a nail salon, massage therapy, and barbershop. Carlos also established a partnership with Military Outsourcing to allow Foreign Service members to buy cars with that service. In his spare time, Carlos organized 5k runs, car washes, and youth sports events, volunteering 400 hours and raising $12,000 for his community. Carlos also helped create an international music publishing and management group, and he continues to inspire other EFMs through his success in the music industry.
Zhou Cecilia Zhuang-Haas; Rabat, Morocco
During her time in Rabat, Cecilia actively engaged with the local community. She volunteered with Enactus, a global organization that encourages students to take entrepreneurial actions to bring about socioeconomic change in the host country. Cecilia mentored eight student teams, helping them identify areas for improvement and network with Moroccan government officials. One team received a grant for $5,500 from a U.S Foundation, which will help 180 families in rural Morocco gain access to renewable electricity. Cecilia also organized a 2019 Women's Day event featuring 5 speakers and over 60 attendees. The speakers described ways to eliminate cultural and social obstacles to help women achieve their career goals and attain equal pay for equal work. Cecilia also promoted US-Morocco cultural ties through volunteer work with the American International Women's Association of Rabat. In addition to this, she volunteered on a weekly basis at a migrant center serving displaced persons from elsewhere in Africa.
Claudia Felice-Kuebler; Quito, Ecuador
Claudia's desire to effect positive change and provide assistance in helping disenfranchised segments of the local community resulted in her joining forces with Pan de Vida, a local NGO. She helped pioneer a program from inception to grant writing to execution that provides relief and hope to hundreds of distraught migrants. She also led a women's mentoring program with a microbusiness focus providing revolving micro-loans; on a weekly basis, 50-60 families receive training. Among many other contributions, Claudia also served as Communications Manager at Pan de Vida and has streamlined the organization's communications strategy, updated new materials, raised funds, developed promotional videos, updated the website, and worked with artisans to create new jewelry for sale benefiting Pan de Vida.
On November 14-15, 2019, Romania hosted a meeting of the Warsaw Process Working Group on Missile Proliferation, which was co-chaired by Poland, Romania, and the United States. In furtherance of the discussions initiated at the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East in February 2019, the working group on Missile Proliferation considered the issue of missile proliferation in the Middle East and explored practical steps that states in the region and around the world can take to address this important issue.
The Missile Proliferation Working Group discussed dangerous trends associated with the proliferation of missile-related goods and technologies in the Middle East and resulting contribution to regional instability.
Working group members collectively recognized that halting the proliferation of missiles and related technology associated with such trends in the region is essential and requires broad international cooperation. In particular, participants noted that states must work together to support such efforts. This is particularly relevant for states that are potential sources of or transit hubs for missile proliferation sensitive technologies and raw materials, including to non-state actors.
Working group participants recognized the urgent need, as per United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (UNSCR 1540), for all States to take effective measures to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, their means of delivery, and related materials from threatening international peace and security. In this context, there was discussion on the establishment of an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems. Participants also discussed transparency and confidence-building measures intended to curb missile proliferation worldwide, and discussed in this regard the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC).
Working group representatives noted the need to consider these issues further and, where possible in their national capacities, undertake actions to meet the security challenges presented by missile proliferation in the Middle East.
When does "the" mean "die"? A German-speaking Twitter user's response of "the boomers" reaped a 12-hour account lockout after it was interpreted as an English-language threat.--
Over the past weeks, the phrase "OK, boomer" has surged through social media platforms — a millennial and Z-generation's digital stab at the older baby boomer generation's alleged close-mindedness and condescension.
But on November 12, the catchphrase's collision with German grammar led to an unexpected consequence: A user reportedly being blocked from Twitter for 12 hours for hate speech over the word "die," German for "the."
On November 9, the user @digiom, located in Vienna, Austria, responded to a tweet by user @guenterhack with the words "die boomer," which in German means "the boomers." She then tweeted on Tuesday that her account had been locked for 12 hours and provided a screenshot of the Twitter message saying she had violated its hate speech guidelines:
"Because the German article "die" is read as [the verb] "die" by an English-trained algorithm, it can happen that twitter will block someone if they write 'die Boomer,'" @digiom explained in her tweet. In other words, Twitter had interpreted the phrase as a verbal threat to user @guenterhack's life.
Identified incorrectly as English
Social Media analyst Luca Hammer pointed out in response that the original tweet was written in dialect, which would not have been understandable without German knowledge. He said in a thread that Twitter would have identified @digiom's response "die boomer" tweet as English, in which case it would have been presented to an English-speaking moderator for review.
@digiom said via Twitter that she had not been contacted by the company after having her account locked, nor had she expected to be.
Twitter declines for reasons of security and data protection to discuss individual accounts. However, Holger Kerstin, a communication director at Twitter, said that the company's goal is "improving the culture of debate."
"On our way to achieving this, we sometimes make mistakes in how we apply our rules. We are sorry for these occurrences. We of course analyze the mistakes in order to improve and further develop our approach in promoting a contrastive, public debate culture," Kerstin said.
Generational warfare or clever criticism?
The word "boomer" refers to the baby Boomer generation, born from 1946 through the mid-60s. The phrase "Ok, boomer" developed in response to older generations criticizing younger ones for being idealistic, narcissistic and irresponsible.
Some have argued it is ageist and has sparked generational warfare, while others have described it as clever critical retort.
Though it has been in use for months, it burst into the global headlines in early November after New Zealand politician Chloe Swarbrick, born in 1994, used it during a speech in parliament after an older parliamentarian expressed skepticism over the body's average age.
It will only get worst as those on the Net learn how to by past the computer that is looking for foul terms.