Guest Blogger: Featured Seahawk Andrew Seibel,a CSB undergraduate student studying International Business/Supply Chain Management as well as a student at the University of Hertfordshire via the TABSA dual-degree program.
Working here at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica has been a most incredible experience. Having followed my father to all his diplomatic posts but one (Afghanistan), gave me a sneak peek into the world of American diplomacy. However, being able to work in the environment as a growing adult has allowed me to apply and further my knowledge of business and diplomacy.
More specifically, my time here was spent with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) where our end-goal is to leave the country as self-sustaining as possible. We like to think of USAID as "training wheels" that one day, will come off. USAID works closely with the local government, foreign governments and inter-governmental organizations, NGOs, and a vast array of others in the private and public sector. In addition, USAID works through funding of inter-development/implementing partners, who really have the "feet on the ground" working in Jamaica, using their local knowledge, expertise, and connections.
During my time in Jamaica I got to work in other areas and see more behind the scenes in departments including Public Affairs, Protocol, Community Liaison, General Services, and Consular (which my father runs). This program through which I worked is the Summer Hire through the U.S. Department of State- which allows Eligible Family Members (EFM's) of Direct-hire employees of the U.S. Mission, to work in an "internship" setting. My dad is the Consul General and Acting-Deputy Chief of Mission, giving me the opportunity to participate in this wonderful program.
Depending on your age and education level, the assigned supervisor will determine what workforce one is given. At USAID, my primary project was updating and re-creating the USAID/Jamaica Contacts, and thus I created an Access Database in which one can enter up to 48 pieces of data. Multiply that by the 115 contacts I managed to review, that 5,520 data entries to look at. I was able to use my knowledge gained from MIS313 and other Excel heavy courses such as OPS and SCM courses, to create the database and make it user-friendly. This database allowed us to print full page biographies with contact information, into a booklet that will be used by the USAID/Jamaica Country Representative's Front Office. My knowledge of information management was key for this project, and allowed me to succeed in its completion.
In addition, I assisted various meetings in a minor role of timekeeper and note taker, with teams from the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic, members of USAID Washington D.C, members of our International partners (British High Commission, Canadian High Commission, European Union, United Nations, Inter-American Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc), and our implementing partners (FHI360, Local Partner Development, The Leap Co.). Being able to sit in attendance and listen in on active dialogue between representatives of such engaged and powerful organizations was inspiring and moving, as I witnessed first hand, the amount of effort and work that members of local and international organizations are putting in, to better the country of Jamaica. I also worked in the shadow of our Development Outreach and Communications (DOC) Specialist, Kimberlly Weller, as she was gone for the duration of my time here. In her absence, I took photos of meetings and events, and compiled together the Jamaica Weekly Highlights, a newsletter of our USAID/Jamaica mission with tidbits of activities we engage in. The newsletter is distributed to outer Latin and Caribbean (LAC) US Missions abroad, as well as some USAID personnel in Washington, D.C. Lastly, I served on the planning team that organized the official U.S Embassy Welcome Reception for the USAID Country Representative, Jason Fraser. Our USAID front office and selected members worked closely with the U.S. Department of State's Protocol Office, and the General Services Office (GSO) to put on this high level and official event which took place at the Chief of Mission Residence (CMR). Thanks to our collaboration and team work, despite the torrential rain we had just an hour prior, we pulled it off with major success!
In my time here, I can brag and say I've met some very powerful and influential individuals. In passing I've met the (Jamaican) Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, The Honourable Senator Kamina Johnson Smith; Minister without Portfolio of Finance and the Public Service, The Honourable Fayval Williams, and the Minister of State of National Security, The Honourable Rudyard Spencer. I enjoyed a conversation with British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Mr. Asif Ahmad, in which he gave me valuable life advice as I prepare to move to England to further my education. I also spoke with Chief of Party for Local Partner Development, Morana Smodlaka Kranjnović; Resident Coordinator of the United Nations and Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Bank, Bruno Pouezat; and Jean Lowrie-Chin, Chairwoman of the Digicel Foundation; and Executive Chairman of PRO Communications (PROComm) Ltd.; and Saffrey Brown, Social Innovator and Co-Founder of The Leap Company; and Michele Rollins, multimillionaire and widow of John Rollings Sr., founder of Orkins Pest Control. They were all kind enough to explain what their organizations do, converse, and even invite me to visit them and their organization some day!
Some of the local U.S. Embassy Section Heads that I got to spend time with were Chargé d'Affaires, Eric Khant; Counselor for Public Affairs, Jeremiah Knight; USAID Country Representative, Jason Fraser; the Head of Drug Enforcement Agency, and our Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency Attache.
This work at the U.S. Embassy has been wonderful, and in a sense, brought me home. Having lived in now nine countries (will be 10 starting today as I depart for the UK), it is great to be around other American expats who work on behalf of our country. The staff here share the same values and thoughts as I have for much of my life, understanding the great experience but great hardship of life abroad. It has definitely inspired me to look further in employment prospects, and consider the U.S. State Department and USAID as career opportunities.
For anyone out there who may be looking to follow a path in USDOS or USAID, please feel free to contact me and I can tell you a bit about what life overseas is like.