U.S. Ambassador Steven A. Browning visited HNU in conjunction with the Diplomat-in-Residence program for Northern California, which recruits talent for the U.S. State Department. Browning described the qualities that the U.S. State Department seeks in its representatives, and informed students about the Virtual Student Foreign Service program that offers virtual internship and micro-volunteering opportunities.
Browning—who has served in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and was most recently deputy director general of the Foreign Service—said that being a diplomat is a demanding position that does not fit into a nine to five schedule.
“If you are the kind of person that needs predictability it is not the career for you,” he said. “You have to be prepared for volcanoes in Iceland, forest fires in Indonesia…. We look for people who are flexible and adaptable.”
In addition to being flexible and adaptable, Browning said that diplomats need to be culturally sensitive, and possess managerial skills and multitasking capabilities. The test required to become a diplomat is designed to identify candidates who are well rounded and have appropriate personality characteristics. To pass, individuals must be generalists and knowledgeable in a wide variety of subjects, he said.
Browning said that the hard work preparing for the exam and meeting the challenges of foreign service will be repaid with amazing experiences.
“What could be more interesting than discussing conservation with Jane Goodall while walking on the Indian Ocean beach?” Browning wrote on his Diplomat-in-Residence profile. “Or meeting Nelson Mandela and hearing him describe his vision for the future of South Africa? Or sitting with child soldiers in northern Uganda who had escaped the clutches of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army as they described their experiences?”
Browning’s November 7 visit was part of the Fall 2013 Asia Pacific Peace Studies Institute Speaker Series. The series featured a broad range of speakers, including curators from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; guests from the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; and journalists Karen J. Coates and Jerry Redfern, who discussed their book Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos.
Dr. Chiho Sawada, who directs the new Asia Pacific Peace Studies Institute and organizes its speaker series, said that the “touchstone for the series is the HNU mission to serve our students and society, to nurture transformational leaders who promote justice and model cultural diversity and competency.”
“My students just light up whenever they get a chance to interact with accomplished guest speakers who are making a difference in the world,” he said. “So, I do my best to attract folks from a variety of fields to visit our campus—from government as well as non-government organizations, from science and policymaking to cultural affairs.”