It was a clear and sunny day in Irvine (Southern California of USA) the perfect conditions for a brunch and opportunity to discuss the youth’s role in diplomacy.
Guest speaker Kevin Pham, PhD student of Political Science at the University of Riverside, was chosen to lead this discussion. Kevin began the conversation with defining to us what diplomacy was. Diplomacy, according to Kevin, is negotiation between two nations, two parties, or simply representing a group or idea in a positive light.
The discussion then evolved into a theme that was prevalent throughout the first Youth to Youth Summit, which was mastering internal peace before attempting external peace. I argued that one must find inner peace when their spiritual, mental, and physical needs are met. Mainly: food, shelter, and familial relationships. My colleague Leila argued that you also needed structural needs such as job and financial security.
She cited her work experience at a nonprofit organization called Lift, which helped Americans from communities of lower income find jobs to support their families. Kevin argued that these needs were not mutually exclusive, and that many concepts of dignity and recognition are tied in with both familial relationships, and the ability to have a job and provide for one’s self and one’s family. After sharing our ideas, we came to the agreement that these needs are all required to find inner peace.
The second topic was applying these theories on the international level, citing the conflict in Israel and Palestine as an example. This is actually how we all met each other, as we were all members of the Olive Tree Initiative in college, and had traveled to the Middle East as student diplomats. Kevin, who has attended multiple OTI trips, described to us his most recent experience in region this past summer. Where he described to us the uniqueness of this issue and how certain diplomatic efforts have failed and succeeded.
After discussing the issues in Israel and Palestine, we discussed conflict resolution and diplomacy in the work place. Kevin explained that in order for a third party individual to act diplomatically, whether in the work place or internationally, both individuals must be willing to transform the conflict. Lastly, after a delicious brunch combined with multiple cups of coffee and tea, we discussed the career opportunities that the youth has in diplomacy. While Kevin is a PhD student, he is also the alumni coordinator for the Olive Tree Initiative, and he is a personal mentor as well as resource for opportunity.
It was Kevin who actually showed me opportunitydesk.com, where I found the listing for the first Y2Y summit and applied. He provided Leila and myself with exceptional advice when it comes to applying for jobs. The first thing he told us was that we need to find what we want to do in diplomacy - whether that is human rights, conflict resolution, or cultural dialogue.
After we decide what we want to do, we must “market” ourselves to make us stand out from the rest of the applicants. We need to tell our story, why we care, and lastly, why we are suitable for the program we are applying to.