“Successful Dialogue in a Deeply Polarized World” Panel Discussion on January 23

More than 75 AAFSW members and guests from the American Foreign Service community and foreign diplomats from 23 different embassies attended this fascinating and timely event in the Burns Auditorium at the Department of State on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.

Former Democratic Congressman Jim Moran and Rev. Mark Farr, President of the Sustained Dialogue Institute in Washington, D.C., emphasized the need for dialogue and understanding throughout history and the positive outcomes that have been produced over time through persistent dialogue and honest negotiations. Both panelists provided insights and anecdotes gained from their personal experience in the art of dialogue.

“Countries are like individual organizations; they need to feel respected, not dismissed”, emphasized both panelists. “It is not just dialogue that needs to take place; it is purposeful dialogue.” One example of this type of dialogue was initiated in Africa under the auspices of the Peace Corps. Young Americans who knew nothing about certain people, tribes, customs, and cultures wanted to learn something by volunteering to serve in remote, unknown places and find out what is important to humans in these places. Through the effort of individuals, systems can be impacted and altered. Sustained dialogue is based on human relationships built on a personal level where “soft” diplomacy really takes place.

A lively question and answer session followed this thought-provoking presentation. AAFSW is humbled and extremely honored by the presence of both panelists in the Department of State and grateful for the knowledge gained during this event.

Barbara Reioux
AAFSW Office Manager