There's plenty to be proud of when it comes to UK culture and our national image. And that's important as it attracts people from around the world to visit, study here and do business with us. The world may (wrongly this week) think that our weather's terrible - but the sun never sets on UK culture, and it shines all around the world.
We live in a hugely connected world but our points of reference can still be quite limited to the English-speaking world. Through programmes like YCE, the British Council can identify what's going on outside the confines of the usual places we look to. We connect our global entrepreneurs with the UK and with each other, and sow the seeds for international knowledge sharing and collaborations.
Beyond established hotspots such as the US and UK, there's a whole movement of other digital and creative hubs, from Nairobi to Recife and Jakarta to Cairo. Less obvious pools of ideas and talent: growing markets of youth consumers and the originators of new creative ideas, social innovation and cultural leadership.
Just like the courtesy of learning a few words of the language, for someone from the UK travelling to countries with different memories of WWI than ours, learning a little more about the scale and legacy of this truly global conflict can be invaluable in effectively navigating and building relationships of trust.
The backwaters of Kerala maintain their lurid greenness despite the overhanging grey, Soviet sky of monsoon season. They are deathly still, like a bath that has been run and then forgotten. Our boat - a sort of floating Family Robinson tree house - leaves little trace behind it as it ambles down river.
Climbing down the plane steps, Reunion has clearly pulled out all the stops. It's like one of those ridiculous Hollywood tropical islands, like Spooky Island from Scooby Doo, when you arrive to postcard palm trees, people flinging flower necklaces around your neck (this of course didn't actually happen) and with 'Pass the Duchee on the Left hand Side' playing as the soundtrack.
We will continue our cultural relations work well beyond the planned withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan next year; because we firmly believe that, along with the promotion of governance, security and development, the promotion of culture is a critical fourth foundation of Afghanistan's future.
This week I was a panellist at the launch event for the inaugural Ipsos MORI Top Cities survey - a worldwide poll that crowned London as the most popular city in Europe, but forced us to tip our bowler hats to New York as the global winner. But in amongst the data were a few fascinating phenomena...
There is still a huge challenge in delivering musical education to children in the Palestinian Territories. Limitations on financial resources mean that teachers' salaries are low, instruments are often of poor quality, and teaching resources can be basic - and it's also difficult for foreign teachers to get visas to work there.
It was enormously rewarding to be able to bring the British Council to work in partnership with the Society to bring the honoured Awardees to London to share their experiences with the UK and receive their awards. The British Council's mission is to build trust and understanding between the UK and the rest of the world through the sharing of knowledge, creativity and art.