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Diploma in Diplomacy & World Affairs - A Must for Everyone!

 Growing up in India, the subjects of History and Geography and how they influenced International Relations always fascinated me. Though circumstances made me a banker, my passions always lay with the world of Diplomacy. In January 2019, my husband’s posting brought me to Sri Lanka. Within weeks of arriving, at a diplomatic event at the Indian High Commission, I was suggested to explore the ‘Diploma in Diplomacy and World Affairs’ course at BIDTI. The following day, I walked into the offices at BIDTI to find out more. When I went through the curriculum, I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. A course offered by Oxford University UK which I had dreams of pursuing but was out of my reach was being offered right here in Colombo! This was a dream come true! I still recollect the skepticism I felt when signing up for this Diploma, reminded of the fact neither did I have a background in the subject nor was I a Sri Lankan citizen. All my hesitations were simply met with a welcoming smile by the staff at BIDTI and I was ushered for an interview with the Director General, Ms. Pamela Deen. Walking into her office, her persona was so enamoring that I actually was nervous, an emotion which is not familiar to me. With her gentle smile, she welcomed me to the country and graciously accepted my application to join the Diploma.

The course began in March and little did I realize that this would be one of the best one years of my life. Week after week, Ms. Deen would invite speakers ranging from Ambassadors, Law Experts, Heads of International Organisations, individuals one would rarely have an opportunity to meet in the normal course of life. The Diploma taught us not only about Diplomacy but also about International Law, Current Affairs, International Organizations and Sri Lanka itself. From the history of Diplomacy to the origins of the UN, challenges in the Middle East, Trade Law, Human Rights, the content of each topic was designed in a way that within a limited period of time, one had learnt almost everything that was needed to know about the world. The sessions were interactive and each question was answered with equal enthusiasm. From a college student who looked forward to lectures being cancelled, this course converted me into someone who’s life now centered around Mondays and Tuesdays each week. The aroma of Nescafé signaling the break, the chatter before classes and during the break, and passionate discussions after classes with my peers added to the experience. The nervous energy in the room when Ms. Deen announced the exam dates still makes me quiver with fear. WhatsApp chats with the classmates would be abuzz discussing syllabus, tentative questions etc. Examination day would arrive and that again had its own excitement. Even the pandemic couldn't stop our learning for too long. After a brief hiatus, the institute resumed lectures online ensuring continuity of the program.

I must emphasize the two main highlights of the program for me. As an Indian citizen and probably the only foreign national in the course, I was impressed with the respect and knowledge the dignitaries expressed for my country. Not once in that room did I feel like an outsider either by my peers or by the distinguished speakers. I can say with pride that thanks to the knowledgeable speakers I actually began to understand my country and appreciate its strengths even more. The second aspect that still fills me with awe and admiration is the energy and enthusiasm of Ms. Deen. Her passion for this course needs to be applauded. The whole course has been designed to perfection, and the speakers are chosen with such dedication. Keeping up with the ever evolving world, new topics are continuously added. Accomplishing this Diploma, not only equips you with the knowledge and awareness about current international relations and their deep rooted history, but also with immense self confidence. As a citizen of the world, I truly believe that this course should be a requirement and not a choice for every individual. The residents of Sri Lanka are truly fortunate to have access to this program.

By Anju Bhatia 


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