International relations students celebrate Diplomat Day

Students listen to 11 consulates from around the world during the second annual diplomat night hosted by the International Student Association at the Towers Conference Center in SF State on March 17, 2011. Erik Verduzco / staff photographer

Consulates representing countries from all over the world gathered for the second annual Diplomat Day, an event sponsored by the International Relations Student Association, to discuss the significance of their work and reach out to students interested in diplomatic relations.

The event, which was held in the Towers Conference Center yesterday, was designed not only to help international relations majors with their careers, but also to inform the campus community about international affairs and dispel misapprehensions about foreign countries.

“We have to try and avoid misconceptions to build mutual trust and understanding,” said Lu Wenxiang deputy consul general of China addressing China’s relations with the U.S. “The issue is that the two major countries in the world right now should have better exchanges with one another.”

The event featured consulates from Germany, Hungary, China, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Guatemala, Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Chile.

They discussed the changing dynamics of their job in relation to heightened use of the Internet and said the world is becoming more globalized. They believed these were issues that should be looked into further by all.

“Being more global, or wanting something like a dual citizenship used to be perceived as something bad, like split loyalties,” said Michael Ahrens, the consul of cultural and press affairs for Germany. “Now it’s not strange at all. In two years, we’re going to see diplomacy on a multilateral level more so than now. It’s something to think about.”

President of IRSA Emily Switzer believed the event was created as a way for students to learn about potential careers that are not confined to a classroom.

“It gives the students an opportunity to speak with someone and it’s a good opportunity for them to find real people,” Switzer said. “A lot of work that we do is textbooks and on paper, and this breaks away from that.”

Some students said the event was a means of connecting with those representing other nations.

“It motivated me and encouraged me to keep up with foreign affairs,” said Martha Cazares, international relations major. “The world is separated by ideology, but it’s important for people to know that world affairs are often solved through diplomacy.”

Others said it was important to address the reality of foreign issues and the role of consulates in the modern world.

“You hear about the diplomatic experience, it’s kind of mythical, but this brings it right in front of us,” said Elias Garcia, international relations major and IRSA member. “This makes it real and brings a human element to it.”

Consulates believed the event served a purpose for themselves as well as the students, as it allowed them to interact with the community and make their presence known.

“Most people don’t come in contact with diplomats often,” said Eva Voisin, honorary consulate of Hungary. “People interact with doctors or lawyers and similar things, so any exposure we get to help people become familiar with our function is important because the more you know, the more you can do.”

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