Written by Michael McLean, Public Diplomacy graduate student, Syracuse UniversityMike and a colleague form the Embassy visiting a mine field which is being de-mined through funding from the U.S. Department of State.
As a summer intern with the Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique, I have had the opportunity to see and do quite a bit in just my first month. Assigned to the Political/Economic Section, I am at the heart of the Embassy. The Political/Economic Section functions as sort of a “right hand” of the Ambassador and her Executive Office. When we aren’t writing briefing documents for the Ambassador’s meetings and trips or serving as control officers for official visits, my section is covering a multitude of topical areas from human trafficking to maritime security to the extractive industries sector. I have been writing a large amount of briefing and reporting documents and can say that the Public Relations Writing course I took at the Newhouse School has helped me out tremendously. State Department and public relations writing are more similar than one might think.
One of the highlights of my time here in Maputo has been getting out of the Embassy and into the field. My first week here I had the opportunity to accompany a delegation from D.C. on site visits to U.S.-funded de-mining projects in Maputo Province. While at one site, workers discovered a mine 50 yards from children playing on their family farm. The importance of de-mining cannot be overstated; Mozambique alone has 16 million square meters of land that still needs to be de-mined.
I have also been able to do some in-country travel during my short time in Mozambique, spending the last week in Beira, the second-largest city in the country about 750 miles north of Maputo. In Beira, I assisted with pre-award site visits for potential recipients of the Embassy’s small grants program for HIV/AIDS prevention.
Additionally, one week before I arrived in Beira, the Ambassador inaugurated the city’s American Corner, an American cultural center. On my last day in Beira, I gave a presentation at the American Corner on “citizen journalism” and the uses of new media; followed up by a conversation with the local university audience about the role of “citizen journalists” in society.
Although I am assigned to the Political/Economic Section, my supervisors are allowing me to work with all sections of the Embassy, especially Public Affairs. At the Embassy I have gained hands on experience in the field and have become even more passionate about furthering U.S. public diplomacy efforts throughout the world.