Belgium and U.S. Relations

By Augustine Holguine

Imagine leaving your home country and partaking on a voyage to new land. In previous centuries, especially the nineteenth century Belgians moved to the United States to create a new life with financial opportunities for their families. History plays an important role in relationships, and today our group was educated on the history between the United States and Belgium. Additionally, today’s guest speakers made it more clear the task the public diplomacy and public affairs department conduct at the U.S. Embassy in Belgium.

During today’s visit at the U.S. embassy I received a wealth of information on Belgium’s role in U.S. history. Today’s speakers Laurens Vermerier, Maggie Wright, and Jacqueline Deley gave information, which made it clear to me task the public diplomacy and public affairs department conduct at the U.S. embassy. Laurens Vermerier gave us a tour of the media hub section within the public affairs department, which was relatively small but housed the latest equipment and technology. Maggie Wright explained to us that the U.S. embassy has 5 other media regional hubs: Tokyo, Miami, Johannesburg, London, and Dubai. Brussels is the perfect location for the media hub department, its the home base for several international agencies, the city’s infrastructure, and languages spoken within the area.

There were several things, which I found interesting about the public affairs department.
* The public affairs department provides video support in the European regions from Portugal to Russia.
* The public affairs office support and operate 3 U.S. missions: European Union, NATO, and the Kingdom of Belgium.
* The videos are produced in English, and subtitles are added if its necessary.
* The department handles the social media sites for the regional hub.

During our visit in the public affairs department their presentation started with a movie about the relationship and history between the U.S. and Belgium. I learned a lot of new information about Belgium’s influence in the U.S., and how they helped build our country. Mrs. Deley explained that the purpose of the public diplomacy department is to engage with Belgium’s different audiences and educate them about the different aspects of U.S. culture. The ambassador serves as a spokesperson for the U.S., and I was impressed with Ambassador Gutman’s mission to visit all 589 communities in Belgium, which he completed. Knowing the languages spoken is a great asset and Ambassador Gutman does not speak French fluently, but he is learning the language to better communicate with the Belgian audience. Although the public diplomacy department uses public relations they are not the ambassador’s personal public relations team, they handle his social media accounts, assist him with press releases, and handle the scheduling of his presentations/interviews.

Everyone in this cohort know that I want to work for an international government agency, and this trip has made me more determined to reach that goal. I am truly grateful for the information I received at the embassy and completely understand how the different aspects of communication is integrated within an international government agency. Mr. Vermerier, Mrs. Wright, and Mrs. Deley gave me information that will help me prepare for a career in the service. Prior to this program I researched what it took to become an employee in the foreign service field,and researching this online limited me to the amount of information I needed. My interest in this sector has increased, and everyone knows I was in my element during this trip. After this program, I believe that I will have the skills and knowledge I gained from the MAIGC program to take over the world ( joking).

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