The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is conducting a two – week training exercise for in – service protocol officers in Monrovia to improve their interactions with citizens, international guests and others.
Opening the exercise Wednesday, 7 March, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs Cllr. Deweh Gray said protocol officers are gathered at the training for the next few days to listen to some of the rules of engagement in performing their various duties in their offices.
The training exercise at the Foreign Ministry brings together protocol officers from the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, the Offices of the Vice President, Speaker, President Pro Tempore, Chief Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Defense.
Deputy Foreign Minister Gray observes that many times people think protocol is just about the Foreign Ministry, noting that this aspect of the work cuts across all government agencies.
She adds that the training is intended to strengthen officers to know how to interact with people, know how to plan events and get to know the whole courtesy of protocol and etiquette as they function daily.
On behalf of Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley, Cllr. Gray assures participants that the training will be a very useful and resourceful undertaking by them.
She says with the caliber of persons available to instruct the participating protocol officers, they wouldn’t regret the occasion. She also says the exercise is about officers interacting among themselves to avoid some of the conflicts and misunderstandings that people have when it comes to protocol and etiquette.
She cautions that mistakes will be made, but they are opportunities for people to learn why certain things are done the way they are done.
Cllr. Gray notes that after it all, they will put themselves in a situation where they will be able to properly portray the image of Liberia to international guests, international partners and the citizenry.
Giving a background of the program, Amb. George W. Wallace, Jr., said the exercise is meant to add on what officers have learnt.
He says the Minister [Gbehzohngar Findley] insisted on protocol training because it is very essential in any government. He says people observed “little mistakes” during the inauguration of President George Manneh Weah, but he argues that the mistakes were due to the crowd and not so much the protocol officers.
Amb. Wallace however cautions that protocol service is about calmness in everything done, and adds that a protocol person is a soft – spoken person.
He recalls that the Foreign Service Institute was established to train Liberians to represent Liberia abroad during former President William V.S. Tubman’s regime, turning away from the past of using foreigners as Liberia’s representatives.
Earlier, the program coordinator Mr. John S.M. Yormie, Jr., said the training is called “in response to a Legislative mandate to respond to some of the major protocol gaps within the Republic of Liberia.”
Due to the Legislative mandate, Mr. Yormie says the major training arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to make a robust and proactive response to the national call.
He says as trainers, it is their responsibility to give a caution regarding the diplomatic space of Liberia.
He urges protocol officers to “put on the coats of diplomacy” and [observe] every requirement of protocol officer, citing timeliness, dress code, and their interaction with one another.
By Winston W. Parley