JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica’s Foreign Service personnel have been benefiting from the excellent relationship the country has with Argentina, the second largest country in Southern America.
  • Despite being in a group of highly trained professionals, Mr. Rochester said he was selected as one of the valedictorians to deliver an address in Spanish at the farewell function.
  • The Foreign Service Officer said the programme prepares students to better relate to persons from the Latin and South American communities.

Jamaica’s Foreign Service personnel have been benefiting from the excellent relationship the country has with Argentina, the second largest country in Southern America. The two nations have enjoyed over 50 years of bilateral relations.

Foreign Service Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Vonroy Rochester, is a proud recipient of a post-graduate diploma having completed the 2015 Diplomatic Studies Programme and Language Training held from March to December 2015, at the Argentine National Foreign Service Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

He also received a Certificate for the Spanish Language and its use (Certificado de Español Lengua y Uso – CELU).

The Institute is an arm of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship founded in 1963 with the aim of selecting and training members of the Argentine Foreign Service.

Mr. Rochester is the fourth Foreign Service officer nominated from Jamaica to attend and complete the South-South Cooperation programme at the Institute. He was among 11 foreign students from Belize, Brazil, Guatemala, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Kenya and Trinidad and Tobago as well as 50 Argentineans.

“I was rubbing shoulders with persons who were doctors, persons who are psychologists, lawyers, persons within my circle and persons who were diplomats,” he said with pride.

Despite being in a group of highly trained professionals, Mr. Rochester said he was selected as one of the valedictorians to deliver an address in Spanish at the farewell function.

“In that particular forum, thanks to God, I was still able to shine and I was one of two valedictorians selected to present an address at the close of the programme. I presented at the farewell ceremony (along with) the Chilean diplomat at the graduation ceremony,” he said.

The curriculum, which was carried out in Spanish, covered over 28 courses, including a series of seminars, workshops, conferences on topics ranging from International Relations, Economics, Human Rights, International Law and important Foreign Policy positions of the Argentine Republic.

Topics such as the History of Science and Technology, Economic Development, Economic Integration and Mercosur were also discussed.

During the initial stages of the programme, Mr. Rochester said classes were sometimes intense, based on the difficulty of having to function in another language.

However, he said that separate Spanish classes were held daily to “smoothen out” any difficulties that students might have had with the language in the classroom.

“The teachers, they were more than happy in assisting us in understanding what’s happening, which is how we managed to master, not only the language, but also the classes and perform exceptionally,” he told JIS News.

Mr. Rochester said he was also impressed with the level of training offered, stating that Argentina has an institution that is exclusively dedicated to the selection and training of Foreign Service Officers.

According to him, the programme is of a diplomatic focus, as one can learn about the foreign policies of different countries, the history of Argentina, Latin American and the Caribbean, the United Nations and other matters relating to the field of diplomacy.

“You do not only learn about diplomacy but you’re learning about how to actually function comfortably as a diplomat,” he said, noting that United Nations simulation exercises were held to ensure a comprehensive view of the field of diplomacy.

The Foreign Service Officer said the programme prepares students to better relate to persons from the Latin and South American communities.

The diplomatic officer said he also worked in the Economic Affairs Department of the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Argentina.

Mr. Rochester also underscored the need for studying a second language, by highlighting the opportunity provided to him to serve as an interpreter at a six-day non-governmental organization (NGO) conference.

He also mentioned that in 2014, he was called upon to function as an interpreter for then Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, during the visit of a Bolivian envoy to Jamaica.

“So the doors open for you if you have a second language…they are numerous, so I would always recommend to anyone to learn a second language,” he said.

Amidst the homework and exams, Mr. Rochester said he had time to explore the Argentine culture and attend Tango lessons.

Mr. Rochester, who is also an accomplished Salsa dancer, said he plans to share the knowledge with his colleagues.

“I had fun. I had lots of fun,” he exclaimed. While in Buenos Aires, he attended the “El Teatro Colon”, an opera House in Buenos Aires, and visited the Salta Province, one of 23 Provinces in Argentina.

“One of the provinces had mountains of salt, the beauty of it can’t be described through words, you have to see it to actually appreciate it,” he exclaimed.

At another location, Mr. Rochester said he saw mountains comprised of the seven colours of the rainbow.

“Breathtakingly beautiful… the landscape is so diverse that there is literally nothing you cannot experience. So for me it was a full rounded experience. It was extraordinary,” he said.

Mr. Rochester also thanked the government of Argentina and the Argentine Embassy in Jamaica for the knowledge gained, which will assist him in performing effectively in today’s world of diplomacy.