Saturday, October 1, 2016

US diplomat visits university

"US diplomat visits university,"

uncaptioned image of the speaker from article

A United States diplomat spoke to [Kennesaw State University] students Thursday, Sept. 22, in the Burruss Building auditorium about life as a foreign service officer and opportunities for students to work for the government.

Isiah Parnell has spent 32 years working as a diplomat for U.S. Foreign Services [sic]. His recent stations include chief of the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica and deputy chief of mission of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.

The presentation began with a world map showing the locations of over 265 diplomatic ports in more than 180 countries. Foreign service officers are stationed at these diplomatic ports to represent the United States overseas.

“Every place has something special about it,” Parnell said. “It’s a fantastic way of life — there’s a lot to see in the world.”

Parnell described the five types of foreign service officers: political, economic and commercial, public diplomacy, consular, and management career track officers. These jobs include objectives such as assisting U.S. citizens overseas and promoting American good and services.

Foreign service officers visit a variety of locations overseas. From 2008 to 2013, Parnell assisted in helping Kenya’s citizens have free, fair and peaceful elections.

“One of the great joys of service is to see your work come to fruition,” Parnell said.

Lillian Ofili, a junior majoring in political science, enjoyed Parnell’s speech.

“It is important to bring international issues to Kennesaw State,” Ofili said. “Learning about different opportunities and issues around the world is important.”

Parnell also discussed the pursuit of a career in foreign service.

“Almost 100 percent of foreign service officers have undergraduate degrees,” Parnell said. “About 50 percent have a graduate degree and speak a foreign language.”

To prepare for the career field, Parnell encouraged students to continue their education, take advantage of study abroad programs and learn a foreign language.

If interested in a career in U.S. Foreign Services, Parnell said students should begin with learning the romance languages, such as French and Spanish, and then move onto more difficult languages. Foreign service officers are taught new languages for months to prepare for a job in a new country.

Parnell’s favorite part about being a foreign service officer is the excitement of a new job every few years. He has worked in the Caribbean, North America, South America, Central America and Africa.

“Different country, different culture and maybe a different language,” Parnell said. “It gives you the opportunity to travel to a lot of different places.”

While the career is ideal for those who love to travel, it comes with its disadvantages, according to Parnell.

“There’s always the challenge associated with moving your family every two to four years,” he said.

Students interested in internships or positions available with the U.S. Department of State can visit to apply for opportunities around the world.

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