A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Two weeks ago BASIS, the student association of BA International Studies, organized a visit to the Argentinian Embassy. I was one of the lucky 20 to be a part of this trip and since I am focusing on Latin America as a region, this was a great opportunity for me.
We were greeted very nicely and let in a room, where they offered us drinks and Argentinian cookies. Oh my, those cookies! They are called Alfajores and they were sent to this earth to make us all believe in a better world. Find them. If you can’t find them, bake them. Sure it’s not the easiest recipe on earth but it is worth the trouble, believe me.
Now, of course a trip to an embassy cannot just be about cookies. So what did we do there? We met Hector Horacio Salvador, the Ambassador. We all sat around a table, asking him questions. There were very political ones about certain relations and past crises between Argentina and other countries and how the issues were handled. There were discussions about economics due to the Ambassador’s background in economics.
Relations between countries, crises that arise, what views different countries have on international issues, this is all information that we have instant access to thanks to developments in technology and communication. But… What goes through a diplomats mind on a regular day? How did they end up where they are? When it’s 5pm and they turn off the lights and leave the office, what is life like? This is what interested me the most, the personal aspect.
When you are a student at a course like International Studies, you could become anything. A diplomat, a journalist, an economist, an entrepreneur… Anything! So there comes a time where you start considering your options, wondering what the pros and cons are and most importantly if you are suitable for not just the job but also the lifestyle that comes with it.
As an ambassador, your job defines your life. You could be sent almost anywhere and you choose this as a life but there are struggles that come with it. When you are in love, you sometimes have to make sacrifices to be with that special person, like being the wife of an ambassador and choosing to go wherever your husband’s job takes you to. He was married, she followed him and they were happy. Then the kids came in the picture. Of course there were struggles but they handled them together. The day we visited the embassy was also their wedding anniversary, which to me was a very sweet coincidence.
Being an ambassador is not only about signing documents, making appearances and representing your country, there is a lot more to it. As the ambassador talked about his life; I saw the man and not just the suit. The quote that stayed with me after the visit was: “The first step is that, you have to love your country, without any hate towards anyone or anything, and ask the question: What can I do?”