US Ambassador makes New Year visit to QE

The new term at Queen Elizabeth’s School got off to a memorable start with a special visit from the American Ambassador.

Matthew Winthrop Barzun, US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, spoke to Year 13 boys on Perceptions of America. He also presented two special Embassy coins to previous and new School Captains, Adam Hilsenrath and Norbert Sobolak.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We were very honoured to receive this visit from Ambassador Barzun. Furthermore, he gave a most stimulating talk, which certainly challenged many boys’ perceptions of the United States.”

""The Year 13 boys and staff gathered in the Main Hall for the hour-long visit from Mr Barzun, who was nominated to be the Ambassador to the UK by President Obama in 2013.

The first part of his address was interactive: boys were given ‘clickers’, and when asked about a certain aspect of the USA, they clicked from a selection of answers. A pie chart of answers given was then almost immediately displayed.

Some were survey-type questions, such as “Where would you rather find yourself in need of emergency medical treatment, UK or the USA?” The boys overwhelmingly selected the UK.

Others had a right and wrong answer, such as “Where are you most at risk of suffering from violent crime, UK or USA?” Most boys chose the USA. However, Mr Barzun pointed out that, if you exclude the most serious type of violent crime which ends in death, the correct answer is in fact the UK.

The visit was arranged by Liam Hargadon, who is both Head of Year 13 and Head of Politics.

""Mr Barzun has a number of famous ancestors, including John Winthrop, founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the city of Boston.

A graduate of Harvard, he was an internet pioneer and was the fourth employee at CNET Networks, where he worked from 1993-2004. After leaving CNET, he advised and invested in internet companies.

He was one of the first to join Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee before the President’s election in 2008. He served as US Ambassador to Sweden from 2009-2011 and was National Finance Chair for the president’s re-election campaign in 2012.

Mr Barzun is married with three children. In his present post, he has brought a degree of informality to Winfield House, the ambassadorial residence in Regent’s Park. He invited David and Samantha Cameron to an Ed Sheeran gig there and, posted an outtakes video of his attempts to master certain Welsh phrases ahead of President Obama’s arrival for the Nato summit last autumn at Celtic Manor in Newport.