A Panamanian abroad: My diplomatic experience in Washington, D.C.

Author: Maria Gabriela Del Rosario Villalaz

Gaby Oas2

Gaby Del Rosario, a senior studying political science, is a writer for Notre Dame International, focused on telling the perspective of international students.

This past summer, I had the unique privilege of experiencing firsthand the intricate world of international diplomacy during my time interning at the Mission of Panama to the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C. This remarkable opportunity allowed me to blend my academic pursuits as a political science major with my cross-cultural abilities as an international student, contributing to a transformative and enriching experience.

The Organization of American States, headquartered in Washington, D.C., serves as a forum for diplomacy and cooperation among 35 member states from the Americas. Panama, where I am from, is a key player in the region and maintains a dedicated mission within the OAS to represent its interests, engage in diplomatic negotiations, and contribute to the collective pursuit of peace, democracy, and development.

My journey at Panama's Mission to the OAS began with a sense of excitement and purpose. As a political science major, I had always been captivated by international relations, but nothing could have prepared me for the dynamic environment of diplomatic relations on such a grand scale. Every day felt like a unique learning experience, and I was eager to contribute my skills and passion to the mission's goals. During my internship, I got to research Panamanian government policies for social and economic development, attend general council meetings with other member states, and have access to the OAS’s archive library. This allowed me to look into the past, present, and future of my country and its relationships with other states.

One of the most striking aspects of my experience at the Mission was the opportunity to collaborate with individuals from diverse backgrounds and countries. The OAS is a hub of international cooperation, bringing together diplomats, experts, and scholars from across the Americas. This environment allowed me to broaden my horizons and gain insights into the diplomatic practices of numerous nations.

Beyond the professional aspects, this experience profoundly influenced my personal growth and academic journey. I was exposed to real-world applications of political science theories and concepts, providing a tangible connection between my classroom learning and practical experience. Moreover, my cultural background as a Panamanian allowed me to bring a unique perspective to discussions about regional issues.

My time at Panama's Mission to the OAS has been a defining chapter in my life, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to represent my homeland on the international stage. This experience has not only enriched my understanding of global affairs but has also ignited a lifelong passion for diplomacy and international relations.

As I continue my studies in political science and chart my future career path, I carry with me the invaluable experiences and lessons learned during my time at the Mission. I look forward to contributing to the betterment of our world through the lens of international diplomacy, and I owe a debt of gratitude to Panama and my university for facilitating this remarkable journey.

My experience working at Panama's Mission to the OAS serves as a testament to the transformative power of international opportunities for students. It reinforces the belief that diplomacy, collaboration, and understanding are vital for shaping a better world—a world in which each nation's voice is heard and respected on the international stage.

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Originally published by Maria Gabriela Del Rosario Villalaz at international.nd.edu on October 12, 2023.