I am writing this as I am returning home from the EuroEcho Imaging meeting in Leipzig, Germany and a quick personal visit to Berlin and Prague. On the Austrian airplane, I am watching a Jason Bourne international spy thriller while flying over the Atlantic Ocean, which makes me start thinking about all that is different and yet the same when you travel around the world. The contrasts are evident when you wander the streets of Leipzig, Berlin, or Prague, Czechoslovakia with their deep and complicated histories and diverse architecture. But when you visit the festive Christmas markets where families and couples are enjoying the lights and smells and good food of the season, or step into a new modern mall filled with shoppers and watch them interacting, you realize how alike we all are. What does this “study abroad” trip have to do with ASE and international relations? A lot.
While serving first in the office of President-Elect and now as President, I’ve had the good fortune to visit the meetings of sister societies around the world as an ambassador for ASE. In the beginning, I thought my primary purpose at those meetings was to give my presentation on a scientific topic. Now I realize what we’re really doing is building a global community, and while attending meetings such as the recent EuroEcho Imaging meeting, it is evident how “flat” the echo world really is (to paraphrase Thomas Friedman). We all have the same challenges around the world. Strain is strain whether you are in Japan, the UK, or the USA, and technology has removed barriers and made it easier for echo experts worldwide to share resources and work together for solutions.
During the meeting in Leipzig, our annual ASE membership reception was very well attended by ASE members around the world, as well as international VIPs from Europe, Canada, India, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Argentina, and Iran to name a few. It was good to reconnect with our friends and colleagues at the reception. While in Leipzig we also met with our partners in Brazil—Department of Cardiovascular Imaging of the Brazilian Society of Cardiology (DIC-SBC)—and EACVI about the 4 th World Summit of Echo that will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in October 2017. Things are developing well for this Summit, and the program is taking shape.
The gala for the EuroEcho meeting was very nice as well, and my wife and I had the pleasure of sitting at the head table with the EACVI President, where we enjoyed casual conversations with our tablemates on topics such as the world of echo, weather, and (of course), world politics. Finally, at one of the dinners at the restaurant Auerbachs Keller in Leipzig (a historic cellar where Goethe had the inspiration to write Faust), I was fortunate to meet Dr. Rosa Sicari and two doctors from Pisa, Italy who are experts in lung ultrasound. They are going to teach me about this new field to assess heart failure patients with ultrasound. The world of echo is very flat indeed, unlike the leaning tower of Pisa which keeps on tilting every year!
What is ASE’s role in international relations?
As part of our strategic plan, we are expanding our international membership. While our intention is not to take the place of their local societies for these members, membership in ASE can significantly expand their educational resources and networking opportunities. We currently have over 3,000 members outside the US, accounting for 17% of our 17,000 members ( Figure 1 ). Our immediate target is 20%. Starting in 2017, we have lowered our international membership rate to make ASE more attractive and affordable to join.