6/7/17: “As a foreigner, every hour that I spend in my internship and with my ASU Capital Scholar team-mates is a lesson. This has been a very vertiginous week, there are many experiences to highlight, but above all, the most enriching experience to me has been how to relate with new people in a professional environment. Thus, it seems a plain lesson, however, personally, I have to overcome two important obstacles: the language and the cultural barriers. Nevertheless, I am convinced that after my sojourn in Washington as a ASU Capital Scholar, I will be capable of confronting any cultural and professional obstacle I may be faced with in the future.”
-Reflection: As I am writing these words, the lesson is still being assimilated. I am still learning how to relate –- in a professional environment –– with other people that consider me a “colleague.” But, I also want to point out one more thing about my learning process with others. I have learnt many lessons from my Capital Scholars program’s mates. I would like to say that millennials are generous and very friendly with other people. They are basically overwhelmed by the turbulent times we are going through. What has been generally named “millennials” are brilliant young people, that deserve to be heard. They are concerned and worried about the fate of their great nation.
6/14/17: “When I walk through the alleys of the center, I cross paths with a former high ranking officers, I salute them with the deepest respect. This is a feeling that is not originated by any rule related to being polite or educated, it is the deepest expression of respect for a life of service. After a few days, my respect continues to grow because these extraordinary people have devoted their lives to enriching themselves in a specific area of knowledge, to aide in future combat.”
-Reflection: Any person that decides to serve their country knows that they will not enrich themselves. They join the public service because the need to serve others. Some decide to join the military, others defend their homeland from a desk in one of the many agencies that ensures that the lights will went on every night, and that the business will be “as usual” every morning. My admiration for all those that have decided to go a step forward and defend their countries far away from their homes only will grow.
6/21/17: “We, the interns at the CISA had the honor to meet with the Chancellor of the NDU, Ambassador Michael A. Hammer. It was a very rewarding experience; his biography is very impressive. He spent his whole life dedicated to serve his country. He gave us advice on how to build a career in the foreign service, international relations and security establishment. Also he answered our questions with great attention and interest. I would like to mention his clarity in explaining how sometimes we have to sit with our adversaries and reach a peaceful agreement. Before resorting to violence it is worth to engage in dialogue and face our enemies in diplomatic negotiations. Ambassador Hammer also said something that I think is very important: words matter. We are in the age of instant-news, any important event that happens no matter how far away our borders in minutes becomes “breaking news.” Therefore, the public will demand an immediate response to those events, making the role of government officials and the duties of policymakers much more challenging. This environment requires thoughtful preparedness. Officials must always be ready to deal with any unexpected event. That is why words matter, because they must be measured carefully so their impact does not cause a backlash.”
-Reflection: We should have a deep discussion about how this “right on time” society is pushing us to take precipitated decisions. Our problems are complex; they require complicated solutions that cannot be found overnight. The anxiety in which we are living is damaging mankind at personal and collective level, and it only may worsen if the decision-makers –– those that represent the beliefs that we like, and those who we dislike –– do not have the time to think carefully what is more convenient for us as society rather that the members of our particular “side.”
6/28/17: “Another great lesson that I have learned from engineering can be stated in one line: always be ready to have many options. Always be ready to accept that all safeguards will fail. In engineering, Murphy’s law is as important as Newton’s Law of universal gravitation, and I believe that is a lesson suitable in any field of life. If I am asked for a good advice to a foreign student that wants to succeed in his or her internship in Washington D.C. it will be the following: do not assume you know everything. The world is much bigger and complex than we think, therefore any piece of information is a little treasure…Extremist and radicals all around the world aim to damage America, because for their cause––whatever it is––being able to harm the most powerful democracy on earth is a victory. The U.S. needs to know the world that surrounds its borders and beyond them. This is the reason why knowledge is a weapon against extremists, as the U.S. government improves its awareness about what happens abroad, the better its judgment about how to proceed to erase any threat. The exchange of information with others nations it is a pillar of America’s defense. It is a win-win transaction, because once the trust of the American people is obtained, the relationships only will bring benefits.”
-Reflection: My belief is the cooperation between the U.S. and its allies has never been so important. It is a sad reality, but besides all the legitimate efforts of many nations to increase their power –– thus challenging the security of America –– there are hundreds of thousands of people willing to damage the ideals that the U.S. represents all around the world.
7/7/17: “America has been extraordinarily blessed in many aspects of its history, but above all of them one that has to be highlighted is that its territory has never been neither invaded nor occupied. Thus, in the celebrations for the anniversary of its independence, this fact is present. In many countries around the world, the celebrations for their national day are marked by some kind of traumatic event. The French people on July 14th commemorate the assault of an infamous castle, an event that started the French revolution, it is a celebration in which the wounds product of two world wars somehow are still healing. The United Kingdom’s national day is the celebrated in Queen’s birthday, a celebration that it is felt by many Britons as something outdated. Spain’s national day––October 12th the day in which Cristopher Columbus discovered America––it is surrounded by a growing controversy. Some NGOs that work to protect indigenous communities’ rights, human rights activist, and politicians claim that because the suffering of Latin-American natives, Spain’s national day should be replaced by other kind of commemoration. The list of controversial national days in one way or another is long. But, there is one bright exception: The United States…I went with my friends to the mall to see the fireworks, and at the same time, I was able feel the festive environment in the capital. However, it is my second 4th of July in the U.S with the first being in Fort Worth, Texas. I can say now that it is a celebration that unites the American people of all walks of life.”
-Reflection: Americans celebrate the 4th of July with pride, and some foreigners may think that it is a pretentious celebration. But, after my time in this country I have discovered a fundamental fact: Americans want to be liked. From my personal experience I can say that I do not know of any other country of which I know that their people is so concerned about the image that they portray. I had the opportunity of attend to a Brookings Institution’s conference in which the perception and the image of the U.S. was discussed. Fortunately, the world is learning that American leaders, and its people are not the same. Bush, Obama, and whoever follows them have been elected by the American people, but not all their actions and mistakes always represent the U.S. as a whole. The U.S. is made up by a very rich and cultural diverse society.
7/12/17: ”Meanwhile, at the National Defense University I am still struggling to assimilate the main lesson that I have received. Mainly, as an intern I am writing research papers for my supervisors. My findings are required to be and should be straight to the point and provide a logical conclusion to facilitate an easy discussion and an easier way for my superiors to grasp information at a rapid speed. It is an overwhelming endeavor, because as a political scientist, every fact counts and it is important. Therefore, it is a great challenge to not mention facts and events from a scholar point of view that do not have practical value in the political field. Deciding what is superfluous is an enormous strife, although I understand the need to “go straight to the point.” An example of this could be how to resume X policy of 28 European nations into four lines. I completely understand the need, but as history often teaches us, it requires time and effort to learn new principles and values.”
-Reflection: Yes, I am still struggling to “get straight to the point.” Time is not a resource that can be wasted, and when answers are needed they have to come very fast and without hesitation. Any piece of information that will be shared “upstream” has to be concise and truthful. Therefore, in any field that we may work is our responsibility to find put as many answers from as many sources possible, so the information that we will provide is exact and rigorous.
Barely, there are 10 days left in D.C. as a Capital Scholar, I will learn until the last day, and somehow even before I will back at ASU in Tempe to finish my degree. I always keep this week in my memory. It has been one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences in my life. Learning about our world, and from those who live in it, nearest it is –– and should be –– an endless journey.