by Laryssa Lynch
U.S. Ambassador Asif Chaudhry spoke in the Robinson Teaching Theatre as a guest to the school of global commerce and management Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Currently, Chaudhry is assigned to the position of foreign policy advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations. Prior to that assignment, Chaudhry served as a Foreign Service Officer to the U.S. in the Republic of Moldova, Egypt, Poland, and the former U.S.S.R. Chaudhry’s travels have enabled him to learn many languages, including Russian, Polish, Arabic, Punjabi and Urdu.
“I was impressed that he knew as many languages as he did,” sophomore Katie Ferris said.
In spite of his global experiences, having received his Ph.D. from Washington State University, Chaudhry refers to Pullman and Spokane as his hometowns.
“One of the things that bring me to this part of the world is Spokane and Pullman,” Chaudhry said.
Throughout his career, Chaudhry has consistently worked with an element of diplomacy familiar to many people of Eastern Washington: agriculture.
Ferris said that she would not have initially thought of agriculture when considering what it takes to be an adviser but that it answers a very important question, how do we feed our country? In that sense, the agriculture is an element of life that crosses all cultures and helps to fuel a global economy.
“We are really trying to help, making a difference in the country we are helping,” Chaudhry said. “Every dollar that we export has an impact on a number of jobs in this country.”
Diplomacy cannot only be measured in terms of economic gains or agricultural goods. Chaudhry spoke in great detail about the growth in infrastructure and intangible values. In Moldova, Chaudhry assisted in creating education programs and teaching democracy as a model for other neighboring countries such as Ukraine. In Egypt, he witnessed progress spreading to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel.
Chaudhry’s work in Eastern Europe in particular stood out to Whitworth sophomore Alina Stefoglo.
“My dad is from Moldova. I was born in Ukraine,” Stefoglo said.
Stefoglo said she believes his passion for American freedoms comes across strongly because he wasn’t born with those rights.
“He seems so unselfish in what he is trying to do” Stefoglo said.
Chaudhry touched on that subject. He said that those who are U.S. citizens by choice are sometimes more passionate because they know the difference between rights in the U.S. and other countries.
“In the United States anything is possible,” Chaudhry said. “You can look like anything, you can talk like anything.”
Chaudhry discussed the uniqueness of opportunities as an American and even more so, as a Foreign Service Officer.
“Everything you do, it really matters. It really makes a difference in someone’s life,” Chaudhry said.
Describing the career as noble work, Chaudhry said American interests and values are not forced onto other countries, but a belief in democracy and human rights is openly displayed. During this process an ambassador has the opportunity to learn about culture, religion, language and traditions.
“It’s a matter of us getting to know the rest of the world so that we can make it good for everyone,” Chaudhry said.
Becoming a Foreign Service officer is not necessarily a career readily considered. However, for those in business with an interest in making a difference through global opportunities, being an ambassador may be a valid option. Likewise, Chaudhry advised students to conside r working with the Peace Corps.
“I would urge all of you to view this as a potential [job opportunity],” Chaudhry said.
According to the website for the U.S. Department of State, career tracks as a Foreign Service Officer include include consular, economic, management, political and public diplomacy. Whitworth students with an interest in diplomacy might consider applying to the Pathways Internship Program or the U.S. Department of State Student Experience Program.
Contact Laryssa Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org.