FSI boosts relations with representatives from diplomatic institutes and Embassies, proposes cooperation in teaching Arabic

In July and August, the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) exchanged information and best practices in diplomatic training with visitors from counterpart diplomatic institutions in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia and a youth delegation from the US.

FSI also explored possible areas for cooperation with the Saudi and US embassies in Manila, and proposed assistance in bringing a native Arabic speaker to teach the language at the Institute.

FSI develops and sustains a culture of innovation

FSI’s meetings with counterpart institutions from Saudi Arabia and Malaysia and youth delegates from the US provided insights on the best practices of the Saudi, Malaysian, and American institutions and fresh perspectives for FSI’s diplomatic training approaches.

Among these perspectives are the efforts of diplomatic institutions to inject intellectual rigor in their training programs for junior officers through the option to continue attending courses leading to a Master’s degree.

FSI is currently in discussion with a higher educational institution in the Philippines on this project, with a view to honing the foreign service officers’ analytical and critical thinking skills, deepening their appreciation of global history and regional issues, and applying these knowledge and skills to their professional challenges at the DFA.

Another perspective is the potential to partners with other institutions, including counterpart diplomatic academies, to enrich the quality and range of training programs for foreign service personnel.

Visit from Saudi Arabia’s the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Diplomatic Studies Institute, 26 July 2019

Dr. Khalil bin Ibrahim Al-Ali,Administrative Supervisor of the Department of Studies, Research and Publishing of Prince Saud Al-Faisal Diplomatic Studies Institute, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, visitedFSI on 26 July 2019 to learn more about the latest scientific and practical developments in the curricula and training methods applied in the Institute.

FSI Officer-in-Charge Celeste Vinzon-Balatbatdiscussed the innovations, new programs, and training methodologies at the Institute.

During the briefing, FSI OICBalatbat proposed that the Saudi side to consider, as one of the joint activities under the existing Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions, arranging and funding a native Arabic speaker to serve as Arabic instructor at FSI.

Such an arrangement shall benefit both sides, with SaudiArabia able to help propagate the Arabic language in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Dr. Al-Ali offered to raise this proposal with his Institute.

Visit from Malaysia’sInstitute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations, 30 July 2019

Junior diplomats from the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs travelled to Manila for their attachment training program as part of IDFR’s foreign service cadetship course.

The Malaysian diplomats, headed by Mr. Hamizan Bin Hashim, IDFR’s Senior Principal Assistant Director of the Competency Enhancement Centre, interacted with their counterpart junior officers from the DFA on 30 July 2019. Malaysian and Filipino junior diplomats exchanged notes of experience and their expectations in their future assignments.

OICBalatbatbriefed them on the roles and functions of the Institute in molding Philippine diplomats through diplomatic training. DFAAsian and Pacific Affairs (ASPAC) Office Division Director Marford M. Angeles, who oversees Philippine relations with Southeast Asian countries, briefed the Malaysian diplomats on Philippine-Malaysian relations.

FSI also facilitated an exchange of notes of experience between junior diplomats from the two countries. Junior officers from ASPAC, Ms. Jacqueline Ong and Mr. Kevin Mark Gomez, recounted the rigorous examinations for aspiring foreign service officers. Junior diplomats from Malaysia talked about their rigorous training through a cadetship program for new civil servants and subsequently on-the-job training and a more specialized cover for those who join the foreign service.

Visit from young aspiring diplomats from the US, 15 August 2019

Six (6) US delegates to the 7th Asian Youth Forum held at the Asian Development Bank Headquarters in Manila, visited FSI on 15 August 2019. The group is the first batchof representatives from the US organized by the US Embassy in Manila to participate in the said forum.

OICBalatbat briefed them on the FSI, particularly the training program for new foreign service officers. The American delegates and the DFA junior officers engaged in an informal round table discussion on US-Philippine relations, power shifts in the Asia Pacific region, their participation in the Asia Youth Forum, and personal insights as young aspiring diplomats.

During their discussion with the DFA junior officers, the young professionals from the US recognized the growing interest in Asia and the need to promote more exchanges with the region and update relations with friends and allies of the US.

The US youth delegates shared their vision of an Indo Pacific region, where relations among countries are free and open, where investment projects have transparency, authenticity, and accountability through public consultations and environment impact assessments, and where individuals are empowered.

The two groups also compared notes on the differences in the admission to the foreign service and the diplomatic training of the Philippines and the US.

Despite differences in admission requirements between the Philippines and the US foreign service, the diplomatic institutes recognize the importance of training their personnel on soft skills, including leadership.

At this point, US Embassy Public Affairs Counselor PhilipRoskamp offered the willingness of the US Embassy to collaborate with FSI on future activities.

The American delegates were accompanied by other US Embassy personnel including Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer Jeanie Duwan, Cultural Affairs Assistant Sheila Conti, and Public Affairs Intern Grace Williams.

OIC Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat (left) and Dr. Khalil bin Ibrahim Al-Ali (center), Administrative Supervisor of the Department of Studies, Research, and Publishing of Prince Saud Al-Faisal Diplomatic Studies Institute, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia exchange notes on training methodologies. Present also during the meeting is Acting Director Dean Jason Arriola (right) of the DFA’s Office of Middle East and African Affairs.

OIC Celeste Vinzon-Balatbatshows to Dr. Khalil bin Ibrahim Al-Alithe board games featuring foreign board games donated by various embassies in Manila as part of the Carlos P. Romulo Library’s activities to re-introduce the Library as a
“hang-out” for worthwhile interactive lunch breaks.
FSI OIC Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat (center, photo above) and
ASPAC Director Marford M. Angeles (center, photo below)
brief delegates from the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations of the
Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Kevin Mark Gomez and Ms. Jacqueline Ong (center)
in a lively interaction with IDFR cadet officers.
The seven-team delegation of IDFR diplomats (back row) headed by Mr. Hamizan Bin Hashim (front row, third from right) and accompanied by Mr. MohdRidzwanShahabudin, First Secretary of the Embassy of Malaysia in Manila (front row, second from left). Also in the photo, front row from left are Principal Assistant Jacqueline Ong, OIC Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat, Director Marford M. Angeles, and Principal Assistant Kevin Mark Gomez.
Mr. Pat Lester Solosa, Ms. JunalynGift C. So, and Mr. Emile Josef Garcia (left side, top photo) engage in a stimulating discussion with the American youth delegates to the 7th Asian Youth Forum (right side, bottom photo). Looking over are US Embassy Public Affairs Counselor Philip Roskamp and FSI Officer-in-Charge Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat.
The six-team American youth delegation to the 7th Asian Youth Forum (back row) accompanied by Mr. Philip Roskamp, Public Affairs Counselor of the US Embassy (front row, second from right). Also in the photo, front row from left are Principal Assistant Junalyn Gift C. So, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer Jeanie Duwan, FSI OIC Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat, and Principal Assistant Mr. Emile Josef Garcia.