Basic Foreign Service Staff Officers’ Course participants with Ms. Monica Kamille Limpo (first row, second tile) for the session, “History of the Philippine Foreign Service.”

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) conducted the Basic Foreign Service Staff Officers’ Course (BFSSOC), one of the Institute’s rank-based Courses, from 21 September to 12 October 2020, with 30 Foreign Service Staff Officers (FSSOs) of the Department of Foreign Affairs completing the Course.

It was the first full online BFSSOC that the Institute conducted since its training programs shifted to 100% online modality as a response to the global health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Course is designed to equip the participants with the essential tools and skills FSSOs need in performing their duties and specialized responsibilities. It includes the theoretical and practical aspects of the FSSOs’ job, such as their specific functions at the Foreign Service Posts and handling supervisory, coordination, and organizational tasks in the Home Office.

For this run, the Course provided new topics, which are useful in the “new normal.” These were Financial Well-being, with focus on dealing with the financial impacts of the current health crisis, and using Google Suite and similar programs and applications for digital professional activities.

BFSSOC participants with FSI Officer-in-Charge (Director-General) Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat (first row, rightmost tile) for the session, “Writing Effective Memos and Letters.”

The module on Effective Communication also offered more activities, including a workshop on peer-review of written documents. These allowed the participants to have practical applications of the lectures, particularly in writing communications within the Department.

The Course was mainly conducted through synchronous sessions where the resource persons and the participants met together in real-time. There were also asynchronous sessions where participants accessed the Course’s learning materials and completed their assigned activities at their own pace.

The online sessions of the Course employed lecture-discussions and workshops, and included trivia games not only to engage the participants in reviewing past lessons, but also to gauge their learning.

Although the participants and resource persons encountered some technical challenges—such as internet connection stability—the Course went smoothly as the Institute’s Training Team has effectively adapted to the new normal.

The participants expressed their appreciation for the Training Team’s consistent and timely assistance to them and for the comprehensive and up-to-date information the Course provided. The participants also shared their important takeaways and feedback from the sessions, which included realizations on the humbling privilege to serve the people and the country in their own small way as FSSOs.

As a continued effort of traversing the new normal, the implementation of the online BFSSOC stands as a testament to the Institute’s innovation and forward-thinking.