The Foreign Service Institute’s (FSI’s) Functional and Transition Programs Section (FSI – FTPS) conducted its first full online training course, the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) Batch 2 – 2020, from 22 June to 03 July 2020.

The current global health emergency requiring physical distancing has prompted the Institute to advance the timetable for implementing FSI’s earlier plans to shift its courses from the traditional face-to-face modality to online. PDOS Batch 2-2020 served as FTPS’s pilot 100% online training.

The Institute conducts PDOS every year in four batches for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and its partner agencies whose personnel are due for an assignment abroad for the first time.

PDOS is a four-module Course that covers Diplomacy and Philippine Foreign Policy, Philippine Foreign Service Work Operations, Crisis Management and Assistance to Nationals (CMAN), and Adapting to Foreign Assignments and Building Resilience. The Course was conducted in 24 synchronous sessions with resource persons via Google Meet and Zoom platforms, and included two (2) asynchronous sessions: CMAN and Gender Sensitivity Training (GST).

Thirty-seven (37) personnel participated in the Course: 20 from DFA and 17 from other government agencies: i.e., Department of Labor and Employment, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of National Defense, and Philippine National Police.

Through the lecture-discussions and workshops, the participants were taught about the functions and operations of the Foreign Service, relocating to a foreign environment, and cross-cultural awareness and adaptation. The participants also learned about the common types of challenges to expect when posted overseas and the basic tools needed to ably respond to situations at work.

Resource persons and participants welcomed FSI’s move to shift to online learning, although both also acknowledged some limitations on their technical know-how in using the online platforms, internet connectivity, attention span of participants, and the challenge of engaging the participants.

Notwithstanding the short lead time to plan, prepare, and implement a Course from the traditional modality to 100% online, the Institute’s e-Learning Team is adapting to the new normal through agility, relevance, and responsiveness.

Mr. Glenn Joseph Obach (third row, extreme right), emphasized during his lecture on Preparing the Family for the Overseas Assignment that “Post comes first,” which means that all officers and staff must be prepared to respond to the call of duty even beyond regular office hours, during weekends, and holidays.