Opinions Piece: Global Diplomatic Forum London 2018
Jonathan Blaine Graves, MSA, MIR
Have you ever had a week where every conversation you had, every event you went to, and every person you met was an exhilarating experience? I had never experienced anything like the Global Diplomatic Forum (GDF) in London in July of 2018. After reinventing myself from previously being an accountant for ten years, I developed a passion for community outreach, disaster relief, and diplomacy. In London, I heard Minister of State and Deputy Prime Minister Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari from Qatar speak about conflict in the Middle East regarding Syria and High Commissioner Evriviades of Cypress expressing his views on soft power and digital diplomacy. I heard Counsellor Guo Chentao, Head of Policy and Research at the Embassy of China in London discuss the Silk Road Initiative and Alexander Yakovenko, the Ambassador to Russia in London showcase his diplomatic prowess with wit, humor, and gravitas. The quality of experts was impressive and yet there was even more magic in the air surrounding the forum. Over 70 countries were represented at the forum and I had the pleasure to discuss politics, international relations, and the unique aspects of culture that make everyone different. Drinking tea at the House of Lords and the House of Commons with UK MP’s was not only delightful but an experience I will never forget. What was most impressive however was not the beautiful buildings downtown London but the small conversations that took place on the Tube or when walking from meeting to meeting. I found friends in the least likely of places and learned so much about the world and her nuances. Whether it was discussing the implications of BREXIT or cabinet members resigning, speaking Russian, or watching England beat Colombia in a football shootout and chanting “it’s coming home”, the experiences were thrilling, deep with passion and emotion, and made an ever-lasting impression on my mind’s eye. It has been one full week since I left London and I am still riding a high of human emotion, motivation, and conviction that has transcending my belief in not only what is capable, but what I was born to do. Passion has overridden my common sense and conservative methods to allow me to make a change, help others, and reach out into the community to do good in a world so distraught with suffering. The day I became a lifelong humanitarian was the day my flight left London for the States. If you have a passion and feel a high after being around people who live their lives a certain way, don’t ignore your instinct but follow your heart and do what you were born to do. Diplomacy and community outreach may be my second career but my life will be judged not by how much money I made, but by how many people I helped in times of need.