- Protocol Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Marva Campbell, recently returned to Jamaica, after completing studies at Spain’s prestigious Diplomatic School, in Madrid.
- Mrs. Campbell was awarded a scholarship to the institution, courtesy of Spain’s former Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Celsa Nuño, which was intended to provide her with the opportunity for advanced and specialized training, leading to a Masters Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.
- She joined 73 other representatives from countries around the world, including the host nation, as well as the Caribbean, participating in the programme, which ran from October 2014 to June 2015.
Protocol Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Marva Campbell, recently returned to Jamaica, after completing studies at Spain’s prestigious Diplomatic School, in Madrid.
Mrs. Campbell was awarded a scholarship to the institution, courtesy of Spain’s former Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Celsa Nuño, which was intended to provide her with the opportunity for advanced and specialized training, leading to a Masters Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.
Mrs. Campbell’s participation was also facilitated through significant inputs from Spanish private sector interests, whom Ambassador Nuño approached for support.
Positive responses came from the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation, and Spanish technology firm, Indra Systemas, which provided approximately $586,000 (US$5,000) each.
Support was also provided by Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, which stood the cost for Mrs. Campbell’s airfare.
She joined 73 other representatives from countries around the world, including the host nation, as well as the Caribbean, participating in the programme, which ran from October 2014 to June 2015.
The participants included another Jamaican, as well as representatives from Bahamas, Cameroon, China, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Senegal.
The programme covered eight major and five minor courses, including: International Relations; History of International Relations, Sociology; International Public Law; International Private Law; International Organisations; French; and International Economics.
The courses were delivered in Spanish by top lecturers from six of Spain’s premier universities.
Mrs. Campbell, who is fluent in Spanish, and has been attached to the Ministry for 13 years, graduated in June, and is currently preparing her thesis, on: ‘Migration and the Impact on the Jamaican Society’.
She is required to complete this over the next three months, and submit it to the Spanish Embassy in Jamaica, following which she will be conferred with her degree.
Mrs. Campbell was hosted by current Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Aníbal Jiménez Abascal, at a recent reception held at the offices of the Embassy and SJF, in New Kingston.
Also attending were: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Paul Robotham; and Director of Training, Geraldine Myles; as well as Spanish-Jamaican Foundation (SJF) General Manager, Karen Donaldson.
In welcoming her home, Ambassador Abascal commended Mrs. Campbell’s performance during the programme, noting that persons studying at the Diplomatic School are usually “very satisfied”, upon completing the programme.
Ambassador Abascal, who is the SJF’s President, also underscored the strong diplomatic, historic, and cultural relations Spain shares with Jamaica, which he described as “magnificent.”
He contended that Mrs. Campbell’s tenure in Spain will contribute significantly to improving relationship between both countries.
In his remarks, Ambassador Robotham expressed gratitude to the Embassy, SJF, and all other stakeholders instrumental in facilitating Mrs. Campbell’s studies.
In noting the “great respect” Jamaica has for Spanish diplomacy, Ambassador Robotham hailed the Diplomatic School as “one of the finest…in Europe, and the world.”
“We are very happy that one of our own was able to benefit from this magnificent opportunity to learn about the diplomacy of Spain. The fact that she was able to benefit from this experience, will definitely redound to our benefit,” he added.
Ambassador Robotham said by virtue of her pursuing a degree while “immersing in the Spanish language”, Mrs. Campbell represents a “fine example of what we are trying to accomplish at the (Foreign Affairs) Ministry.”
In noting that diplomacy is about communication, Ambassador Robotham underscored that mastery of foreign languages is an “integral part of that.”
“We are in a region surrounded by Spanish-speaking countries. And so, it is the policy of the Ministry that all entrants to the Ministry’s (employ) are required to have (fluency in) a foreign language, preferably Spanish and French, or (any) other…language. But Spanish is the language that is most used in our diplomacy, because we are a member of the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC),” he stated.
The GRULAC is a United Nations (UN) group, the 33 nations of which constitute 17 per cent of the UN’s membership.
It is one of five non-binding dialogue groups where regional and international matters are discussed, with a view to reaching consensus.
GRULAC’s President, who is elected every two years, is currently Roberto León, from Chile.
In noting that non-English speaking foreign diplomats endeavour to communicate in the language, while based in Jamaica, Ambassador Robotham said “similarly, when we go abroad, we (also) need to (communicate in their language).”
He contended that, through bi-lateral and cooperation engagements, “Spain is…helping us to achieve…one of our strategic goals…(which is) making our staff fluent, conversant, and comfortable in Spanish.”
Ambassador Robotham added that similar engagements have also been and continue to be facilitated by other nations with Diplomatic Missions in Jamaica. These include: Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, and Mexico.
For her part, SJF General Manager, Karen Donaldson, said the Foundation was “very pleased” to have been able to support Mrs. Campbell on this “very worthwhile initiative.”
“I am confident that your newly acquired skills will not only serve to enhance the services provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, but also serve to positively impact the lives of those with whom you come into contact,” she stated.
Mrs. Donaldson added that the SJF anticipates Mrs. Campbell’s engagement with schools and youth clubs to enable the young people to experience some of the “far reaching benefits of learning Spanish, and foreign languages in general”, thereby opening “exciting doors to their future in this increasingly inter-connected world.”
In her response, Mrs. Campbell expressed gratitude for the opportunity afforded her to study in Spain. She noted that the programme was an “intense and difficult course”, which “tested” her fluency in Spanish.
“It was a little difficult understanding the Spanish during the initial stages; so it was a little stressful. And I missed my family very much, because it was, initially, difficult studying and then going home and not having that support (present),” she said.
However, Mrs. Campbell said she met a Senegalese woman, who was also studying at the School, and who spoke only Spanish and French, who helped her.
“She was able to assist me where I was having difficulty understanding aspects of the language, as she spoke Spanish more simply than the lecturers. After two months, I was able to adjust,” she indicated, while pointing out that the lecturers’ delivery of the courses was “well presented and very interesting.”
Mrs. Campbell said the programme’s content has enhanced her knowledge of her role in the Ministry, notably in the areas of visa application processing, and consular affairs.
Mrs. Campbell, who will shortly be promoted to the position of Foreign Service Officer in the Ministry’s International Organization Department, said this should serve to enhance her engagements, and those of the Ministry.
“Now I have full knowledge about diplomacy, and international relations, and so, I am now able to impart information on a more confident level. I now fully understand the work that I do, and it will make me feel more confident on the job,” she added.
Despite the hectic course schedule, Mrs. Campbell said she was able to visit some of Madrid’s notable attractions, while pointing out that the interaction with her batch mates was “a memorable experience.”
“We (also) had persons from Estonia, Lithuania, and Mali, and we were able to share each others’ experiences and cultures. It was fascinating…and we were able to form…lasting relationships. I would recommend anyone working with the Foreign Ministry, or in International relations, to pursue this programme,” Mrs. Campbell added.