Foreign service offers world of possibilities

Brazilian consul general Paulo Comargo

Brazilian consul general Paulo Comargo speaks at UIC Jan. 31.

The life of a foreign diplomat isn’t glamorous, but it is rewarding, Brazilian consul general Paulo Comargo says.

“I chose to be a diplomat when I was very young,” he said. “I liked languages, travel and meeting different people. You will not be rich and you will live a modest life — but if you go into foreign service you will not regret it.”

Comargo delivered the first talk of the Allan Lerner Foreign Affairs Series to educate UIC students and employees about the growing importance of Brazilian foreign service in the Midwest.

Comargo detailed his diplomatic responsibility of fostering a deeper and more dynamic relationship with the U.S., especially with Chicago and the Midwest.

As an emerging economic power, Brazil has undertaken several foreign policy measures to build a lasting alliance with the U.S. by promoting trade, academic student exchanges and cultural exhibitions.

Brazil’s most prominent educational endeavor in the U.S. is the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program, which provides undergraduate Brazilian students studying mathematics, science, engineering or technology with scholarships to promote innovation in Brazil.

“The speed of changes in technology and innovation require a relationship between researchers, labs and institutions,” Comargo said.

Comargo hopes to build a bridge of scientific progress and learning between Brazilian and U.S. universities. The program intends to give 100,000 Brazilian students a chance to pursue innovation studies in the U.S.

“Our goal is to strengthen bilateral and multilateral ties. The new economic cornerstone is not the factory but the university—where knowledge and ideas are exchanged,” he said.

Ahmed Ali, a senior in political science, interned with the U.S. Embassy in Madrid last summer. Ali worked in public affairs, helping with ambassadorial media appearances, program implementation and analyzing various reporting trends.

“Entering the foreign service is definitely a career goal—and that is something I say based on my experience abroad with a distinctive U.S. mission,” Ali said. “It is very different than what it seems, and there is a lot of sacrifice that one cannot experience unless they start working for a mission abroad.”

Ali had a keen interest in the Brazilian consulate’s duties.

“Besides Brazilian citizen services, there is a strong focus on economic ties between Brazil and the Midwest region, as well as tourism,” Ali said.

“This event helped me witness how foreign diplomats practice their job in our country. It certainly brought back memories of my internship.”

• Salwa Shameem is a senior in political science.

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