There's nothing quite like watching the Secretary's plane land. Seeing the U.S. Air Force Boeing 757 “blue and white” touch down is exhilarating, especially as someone who wanted to be a pilot as a kid. The moments before, though, represent a lot of hard work from many individuals working behind the scenes. Nick Merrill is no stranger to the combination of long-term preparation and rush of last minute details that go into planning a Secretary's trip. He's logged eight trips with the Secretary, and I had a chance to speak with him in Shanghai just before we departed for the airport.
I also spoke with Melissa Lan, a “Line Officer” who works on the Secretary's advance team. Melissa will be describing a typical work day for a “Line Officer” in a future blog post. When I spoke with Melissa, we were en route the airport to meet the Secretary's plane. A Foreign Service Officer who previously served as U.S. Embassy Beijing's Deputy Coordinator for the 2008 Summer Olympics, Melissa is a great expert on China, and I've enjoyed hearing her insights on the country.
Once we arrived to the airport, I had a chance to speak with Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats. Under Secretary Hormats serves as the senior economic official at the State Department, advises the Secretary of State on international economic policy, advances commercial diplomacy, and plays a key role in bilateral relations with America's economic partners. On May 23, Secretary Clinton will participate in a commercial diplomacy event in Shanghai to highlight U.S. market access and job creation. Bob is also a natural on camera!
Amidst the buzz at the airport, I also had a chance to speak with Jess Taylor, a very critical member of the team -- perhaps the most critical for those of us working long hours, still adjusting to the time change and unfamiliar with Shanghai. Jess works at the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai. Aside from other duties, he found 30 hamburgers from Burger King in Shanghai and made sure they were ready and waiting for everyone working on the trip. Even though I'm a vegetarian and stuck with my granola bar, I was grateful he helped feed the crew.