Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Former US Foreign Ambassador Sparks Political Science Students' Interest

Former US Ambassador to Rwanda, Michael Arietti, spoke to students about careers in foreign diplomacy Thursday, Nov. 13. Anyone interested in foreign diplomacy and careers in foreign affairs was welcomed to attend his lecture, which was held in the Springer Suite at 2:20 p.m. But what some people don't know is that only a handful of students (four or five) were afforded the opportunity to spend the afternoon with him in a more intimate setting.

Arietti had lunch with students and faculty and then had an intimate discussion in one of the theology rooms. For political science students, this was a great opportunity to learn about what's it's like living as a foreign ambassador. Arietti spent 35 years in foreign affairs with the US Department of State. The Department of State is responsible for American government regulations with countries around the world. Six of Arietti's 35 years with the Department of State were spent living overseas. He lived in Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Iran, Zambia and Rwanda. "It was something I've always wanted to do," he said. "Living overseas allows the opportunity to deal with interesting issues, interesting places, interesting policy questions. It comes with lots of responsibility."

Arietti worked at US embassies and similar parallel structures in these countries. From 2005 until July of this year, Arietti served as ambassador of Rwanda. "It was a time in history when Liberian peace talks were facilitated by the US to bring peace and a better government to Liberia," he said. "We were restoring sanity to a country that had been devastated."

Students were fortunate to meet with him before his informative, invigorating open discussion.

Cristian Alaimo, seated left of Arietti, was given the opportunity to speak directly with Arietti at the intimate discussion. "It was an awesome experience," he said. "It was interesting to hear about all the places he's been to, people he's met, and experiences he's gone through. I learned a lot about the Department of State, ranks of diplomats and foreign affair careers." The aspiring attorney is a history major and political science minor.

Shahzeb Shaikha, seated left of Arietti, also attended the personable discussion. "I wanted to have a more personal interaction with him before the open lecture. I want to go into foreign office as an ambassador or foreign policy advisor," the international relations major said. But when asked whether he'd like to pursue this type of career for the US or his native country of Pakistan, Shaikha said, "I'd prefer to work back home. I'd like to help educate my people."

Maryann Dreas attended Arietti's lecture, but was unable to attend the invite-only discussion. "It was a good opportunity to learn about the Department of State. The session was very informative on careers in diplomacy and the state department." Dreas is a double major in journalism and political science, with a minor in women's studies. "I'd like a career in international affairs. I'm thinking globally with foreign service, even the Department of State- something along those lines."

Arietti influenced Dominican students interested in this career field. Maybe a DU alum will be a US foreign ambassador one day.

Photos courtesy of Ann Charney Colmo, professor of political science, international relations and diplomacy, pre-law advisor and honors director.

1 comment:

  1. It was sad that the student turn out was very minimal. Usually people are not interested in anything related to politics or foreign affairs. That reflects the level of ignorance. Being informed matters, not only in the US both all over the world. But the American People are powerful and influencial because they are the citizens of the world's hegemonic power. I damn well matters!