Days prior to Secretary Clinton’s scheduled visit, I learned that I was assigned to assist with her press conference at the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE). I felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness. As a new Consular Officer who has been at the embassy for only a few months, I barely knew the address of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE), let alone would have imagined myself working on a press conference to be hosted there. This changed quickly, of course! My team plunged right in, flying by the seat of our pants at first. Thanks to our walk-thru sessions, good cooperation from our Mexican counterparts, and many flurries of phone calls and text messages, the details began to coalesce into an organized plan for the event.
On event day, we arrived early to begin our tasks. I did my part, working with our Mexican hosts to organize sound checks, secure headsets for simultaneous translation, test equipment in the translators’ booths, and generally prepare for our delegation’s arrival. I really enjoyed working in the SRE’s modern building with its large interior spaces and walls displaying elegant works of art. The SRE offers such great public space for events. It reminds me of being in a modern art museum.
As more and more cameramen and reporters arrived, the excitement mounted. Cajoling one another and joking about which one would get the best coverage, TV camera crews crowded onto platforms at the back of the room. One of my consular colleagues had the task of being a “place holder” for one of the camera crews, and he described the atmosphere as a congenial competition. In any case, the energy was contagious, and it was great fun to be part of the camaraderie among the traveling press as we all anxiously awaited the arrivals of both Secretary Clinton and Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Patricia Espinosa.
Then we got “the call.” Secretary Clinton would arrive shortly! Places everyone, get set and action!