As I watched Secretary Clinton with East African energy-sector leaders stand in front of a state-of-the-art generator at the Symbion Power Plant today and give remarks on competitive infrastructure development, I reflected a bit on the notion of the practice of diplomacy.
I arrived here to the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania just over a week ago, hoping over the course of the summer to see diplomacy in action -- and to participate myself in its practice for the first time at an American Embassy overseas.
On my first day, my supervising Foreign Service Officer in the Public Affairs Section told me to get ready: the Secretary would be arriving in Tanzania shortly, to promote a range of partnership programs and launch Feed the Future, a major new food security initiative. I was immediately assigned to be a press site officer for two of the Secretary's events, assisting with media logistics and the press at both venues. As I reviewed briefing notes and participated in planning meetings, I thought about my coursework from my past two years as a State Department Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy -- courses covering such policy areas as agriculture, global public health, and bilateral political relations. Now, I would see diplomacy in action
The Secretary arrived from Lusaka, Zambia, where she participated in the AGOA Forum and led ministerial discussions on tariff-free trade between developing nations and the United States. She opened her busy schedule here in Dar es Salaam with a high-level early-morning roundtable discussion on hunger and nutrition, both of which were critical issues in my development economics courses. The meeting would be the first of a packed schedule during her brief stay.
After her meeting with Prime Minister Pinda, the Irish Tanaiste Gilmore and others on nutrition, Secretary Clinton then proceeded to a rural cooperative farm to launch Feed the Future, President Obama's $3.5 billion pledge to reduce chronic hunger and poverty, in Tanzania. She met with the women growing vegetables through the cooperative and heard their stories. I had seen technical poverty strategy reduction papers and multi-variate econometric analyses in school, but here now in this lush field, with this food security pledge, was policy in practice, highlighting the partnership and commitment between the United States and Tanzanian to tackle food security, and committed to the ultimate aim that no family should be wanting for a meal.
Before proceeding with Tanzanian ministers and experts to visit the Buguruni Health Center, the Secretary went to one of the sites I was staffing, to recognize the U.S. commitment to market-led growth through the Millennium Challenge Corporation and see firsthand one of the fruits of our $698 million economic compact with Tanzania. She spoke with pride of the two countries' long-term diplomatic partnership, emphasizing trade and major investment projects. The bright sun glinting off the power plant, I recognized for myself my own commitment to such diplomacy -- just like many others joining the Foreign Service, I believe that diplomacy in action represents more than just polite exchanges between countries, but instead substantive investment in each others' futures.
In fact, the United States' long view on investment, in fact, was what brought me to this diplomatic event on the African edge of the Indian Ocean. Through the benefits of U.S. foreign policy, I was able to emigrate from South Korea at a young age, and those benefits have continued with the State Department's Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship, through which I received the diplomatic training which I could now -- this weekend with the Secretary, next week myself -- begin to put into practice here in Tanzania.
Secretary Clinton travels to the United Arab Emirates, Zambia, Tanzania, and Ethiophia June 8-14, 2011. You can follow her trip here.