Sharing the art of diplomacy

THIS WEEK ON PEOPLEASIA - Babe Romualdez - The Philippine Star
Sharing the art of diplomacy
Explaining ‘the art of diplomacy’ and fielding questions on foreign policy and international issues.

One of the rewarding aspects of my job as Philippine Ambassador to the United States is the opportunity to interact with various groups and individuals, including student leaders.

Just recently, I had a speaking engagement at the International Diplomacy Conference (IDC) held at Georgetown University in Washington, DC with more than 80 junior and senior high school student leaders from across the US in attendance. Spearheading the activity was Sian Wynter, program director of the International Diplomacy Program.

The IDC is part of the broader National Student Leadership Conference that gathers outstanding high school students from across the US and around the world, enabling these young people to explore the qualities of effective leadership and at the same time, gain an insider’s perspective of some of the most sought-after professions today.

I spoke about “the art of diplomacy,” emphasizing the importance of communication in propagating understanding and improving diplomatic relationships — ultimately forging stronger ties among nations. I also underscored a diplomat’s responsibility to influence and resolve issues, as well as to reconstruct relations between other nations. 

Conducting a briefing with over 80 student leaders from across the United States during the International Diplomacy Conference at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

“Diplomacy is the best way to do good for your country and for the world,” I told my young audience, emphasizing that being able to explain a particular situation in a proper context is key. 

The session was highly interactive, with students asking a lot of interesting questions about the Philippines and its relationship with the US as well as other nations like China, telling them that it is essential to have “a continuing dialogue, exchange of ideas, economic activity and trade,” with regard to our country’s relationship with both China and the US.

Some also asked about the status of the Philippine government’s campaign against the illegal drugs trade, while others focused on international issues including climate change and disaster resiliency, while there were also those who were concerned about violent extremism.

Questions were also raised about the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Indo-Pacific region — indicating the high level of awareness of these future leaders about foreign policy and political issues involving the US and its ally nations. 

There were also “lighter” questions, such as how I prepared for my role as ambassador to the United States, and the challenges that I encounter in doing my job as the Philippines’ top diplomat to the US. 

The activity was very engaging and refreshing, making me reflect about the importance of conducting dialogues with young people to understand the issues that are close to their hearts and minds because — to paraphrase our national hero Jose Rizal — the youth is the hope of the world’s future.



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