Jordanian diplomat Mohannad improved his diplomatic skills through our Foreign Service Programme (now called Diplomatic Studies Programme) during 2016-17.
'I am a Jordanian diplomat who has been working for the ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2011. Before joining the Foreign Service Programme (FSP) in 2016 I was working at the negotiations bureau at my ministry. However, between 2012 and 2015 I worked at Jordan general consulate in Erbil/Kurdistan region of Iraq, which had been a great experience, especially due to the challenges and changes the region witnessed at that time.
'Studying at the University of Oxford was one of my childhood dreams. After I joined my country's diplomatic corps I aspired to equip myself with the best diplomatic skills and practices from around the globe in order to serve my country’s interest in the best possible way in this changing world. Therefore I decided to apply for the renowned FSP which started in 1960s in order to fulfill my childhood dream and to harness my knowledge, insight, skills and strengths with the help of some of the best academics and practitioners in the world.
'The intense intellectual conversations we had throughout the programme were very challenging. You were expected to take part in heated discussions where you have to listen to the arguments presented, develop your own argument, and articulate your thoughts in a short period of time. However, this helped us to improve significantly in critical situations where on the spot thinking is required. Moreover, in many cases I found myself required to put myself in a British diplomat shoes in order to address a hypothetical situation which is not an easy thing to do given that I am a Jordanian diplomat and the way we process things is somewhat different to how British diplomats do due to the differences in culture and perceived priorities.
'With a competitive diverse group of 25 students from 20 different countries, it was very rewarding to be engaged in discussions and debates over key issues that were/are taking place in today’s world. On every issue you can listen to at least 20 different perspectives. It was not only a teacher-students communication but it involved teacher-students, students-teacher, and students-students communication, which has certainly broadened our horizons. Each student receives personal training tailored to their special needs, and continuous feedback from experts on how to improve yourself. The improved self-confidence, the collective knowledge we gained, and critical thinking skills are some of the most crucial outcomes of this programme.
'What was interesting about the course is that it was not purely academic. We were offered a comprehensive programme that involved practical training ranging from exciting simulation exercises to interesting field trips to Northern Ireland, Geneva, Brussels and The Hague. By way of illustration, we spent a couple of days concentrating on negotiating skills with one of the most skilled professionals in this field and directly after that we went to Northern Ireland where we were introduced to one of the most critical cases that required successful negotiations skills.
'Now I am back in to the ministry of foreign affairs of Jordan to pursue my diplomatic career equipped with the skills and knowledge I earned from the FSP. At any given moment I will be posted to one of my beloved countries’ embassies around the world.
'FSP can be a life changing experience and it will open doors to a brighter future. Let alone the academic value of programme, the network of friends, academics, diplomats, and experts you will develop is unimaginably valuable and it will help you in the future to develop a successful career.'
- Oxford University Diplomatic Studies Programme (formerly known as the Foreign Service Programme)