Diplomats Must Be Adaptable, Versatile

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Foreign Affairs Minister Marjon V. Kamara says scholars of international relations and diplomacy must develop the attribute of adaptability, versatility and the ability to promptly respond to the inevitable and ever-changing situation, utilizing a mixture of practical experience and professional consultation.

Minister Kamara said it is becoming increasingly complex to analyze global situations relying strictly on political theories and economic models looking at today’s world that is faced with more challenges than any of the preceding years.

Minister Kamara made the assertion at the graduation exercise of the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute where 29 emerging diplomats completed nine-months of intensive training in diplomacy and international relations and were awarded postgraduate diplomas.

Minister Kamara said the tool of diplomacy relies upon layers of professional approaches which will always require a cadre of trained service men and women in areas of security, protocol, international law, economic diplomacy, public diplomacy, human security, human rights, among others.

She told the graduates that the graduation exercise of the Foreign Service Institute demonstrates government’s continuing effort to develop the capacity to respond to the daunting challenges of today.

The Institute’s training focus has been on diplomacy relevant to the developing world, where the primary objective of diplomatic practice is geared toward bridging the divide between the developing and developed worlds through such means as the transfer of technology, capital, technological know-how, as well as the promotion of trade and tourism, Minister Kamara emphasized.

She encouraged the graduates to have an open mind to the many possibilities that await them, stating, “To tap into those possibilities, you have to cultivate and demonstrate a positive attitude, wherever you find yourselves as professionals. It doesn’t necessarily have to be at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs or at a foreign mission but at any professional duty station which Providence brings your way.”

However, Minister Kamara noted that the Ministry faces a real deficit when it comes to fluency in languages; noting that her administration is placing much emphasis and focus on expanding language training opportunities at the Institute, which is currently working on the establishment of a language lab for the development of those skills.

The commencement speaker, United States Ambassador to Liberia Christine Elder, proffered four observable ways, which she said have helped make her successful in her professional life.

She told the 29 graduates that wherever their paths may take them and whatever positions they might occupy representing Liberia, she thinks that those four principals that have guided her in her professional career as a seasoned diplomat can also work for them.

She urged them to adapt well to working with those who have very different personalities from their own; park their egos at the front door of public service “as it’s no longer about you, rather it’s about your country”; encouraged graduates not to fear change in spite of the fundamentals of diplomacy in many ways being constant; and urged them to stay focused to make the most of any opportunity and always be willing to learn new things.

Ambassador Elder narrated that in the 27 years of her diplomatic career, some of her most satisfying days have been working behind the curtains with representatives of other nations to push her nation’s agenda.

She told them that the technologies which are now relied upon daily to make work easier were not available when she joined the foreign-service in the 1980s. She, however, stressed that despite the advancement in technology, the fundamentals in diplomacy remain the same, adding: “We diplomats communicate and this has not changed. We all interpret our countries’ policies to our host governments and explain the views of the countries in which we are accredited back to our governments. This communication process remains the same.”

Ambassador Elder told the graduates that all of the distinguished guests in the hall had not only come to celebrate and acknowledge their accomplishments but to underscore their understanding of professional development. “I think we all understand if we went about our lives and careers with the greater degree of skills we have acquired, the world would be a better place,” she said.

For her part, Bong County Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, who is the valedictorian, extended her deepest gratitude to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Foreign Affairs Minister Kamara, and the diplomatic and consular corps near Monrovia for making the nine-month training worthwhile.

She said their journey together was a worthwhile one, as it allowed them on the one hand to glean the wisdom and knowledge required for the awesome responsibility of representing their beloved nation and on the other hand to understand that patriotic service to God and country is the highest calling which they should all strive to achieve. She hoped that very soon a building will be constructed and dedicated to house the FSI.

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