About the Author: Robert O. Blake serves as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.
Earlier this year, I sent a message to the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs encouraging my colleagues to help cultivate a workforce that mirrors the diversity of the American people. Having officers with a wide variety of backgrounds and ethnicities is right and smart, allowing us to draw on a range of skills to deal with a region of the world that itself features a diverse population. Secretary Clinton has made ensuring the diversity of the State Department a moral and diplomatic imperative.
I was particularly proud to speak at the South Asian Americans Employee Association (SAAEA) one-year anniversary on June 29. SAAEA has focused on the growing number of South Asian Americans who work at the State Department, many of whom have served in the SCA Bureau. Our South Asian-American colleagues provide important cultural insight and historical perspective as we build strategic partnerships in the region.
In its first year, SAAEA itself has held an Iftar dinner and a discussion about Ramadan. The anniversary event featured music, dances, and even comedy from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal. By providing a mechanism for South Asian Americans to gather and promote their culture within the State Department, SAAEA has demonstrated how the State Department benefits from a spectrum of perspectives and backgrounds.
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