November 21, 2014

Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia and U.S. – Different yet Similar

Mekonnen Haddis, Chief Advisor of the Minister, Ethiopia 
As I sat and listened to U.S. public servants discuss problems they have faced regarding employee retention and recruitment for the government, I was surprised, yet somehow comforted to realize that Ethiopia and the U.S. face similar challenges. 
Our Ethiopian delegation was so pleased to be invited to Yale University by the Global Health Leadership Institute for the Strategic Thinking in Foreign Affairs Symposium. During our visit, my Ministry of Foreign Affairs colleagues and I heard from leading practitioners and U.S. public servants who were candid in sharing their views and knowledge with us on a range of issues. Their insight helped us to develop better strategic plans on our own foreign policy, organizational capacity and leadership, which will prove invaluable when we return home.
During our week on the Yale campus, some of the work I most appreciated involved our Yale colleagues sitting down with us to solve problems we had identified within our government system. Through discussion and exercises with some of United States’ leading grand strategy thinkers, we learned to put theory and practice together to address critical problems.
We left New Haven to spend a week in Washington, D.C., visiting the State Department and government representatives. What impressed us most in DC was the priority that the U.S. officials gave us, ensuring they spent time with us in spite of their work load to help us in our endeavors to transform our ministry and country. The level of respect we received at the Department of State and all other places was exceptional. As this was the first visit to D.C for many of us, we were also anxious to see the landmarks about which we had heard so much. The Foreign Service Institute was much bigger than we had expected, and The White House, Capitol and Lincoln Memorial visits were unforgettable. 

After our impressive visit to the U.S., we confidently take home guidance and experiences to embark on a strategic mission to implement our foreign policy both with vigor and commitment.

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