Weaving Words

A fellow participant in a recent training for ASEAN diplomats asked me how long it took me to draft the “Thank You” message of the batch, which I delivered that afternoon during the closing ceremonies of our diplomatic training. I said, “15-20 minutes, around that time.” She was amazed and asked how I did it. She said it takes her a long time to draft a National Day message or a letter to an agency or an official condolence.

I told her not to worry, that those messages also take some time to draft because they require context, background, historical facts, and even a familiarity of the writing style and to some extent, the degree of the extent of the bilateral ties. I told her too that I’m sure she’d find it easier in time, that even if I’m in my 7th year in the foreign service, there are still reports and writing assignments that I find really difficult and take time to prepare and/or draft into a comprehensive but concise and unified piece. I also shared that preparing the speech for the closing ceremonies was easy for me because it also expressed how thankful I am (and our group is) for our hosts.

We had that conversation at the hotel lobby in Rabat, while she was waiting for a guest to arrive. Soon after, her guest came. We exchanged pleasantries. I bid goodbye to both of them then went to my room to freshen up and prepare for an official dinner with my Ambassador on the last night of my stay in Morocco, before I flew back to the Philippines next day.

So I just would like to share how I wove the words for my “Thank you” message.

It was only Thursday that the decision was finalized by the group that I represent the batch in the closing ceremonies. I thought of crafting a short and heartfelt message that would express our deep appreciation to our training hosts, summarize the learnings we gained during the two-week training, and not to forget, mention the names of important people who made the training possible and those who were present. But I was tired so I slept without drafting the speech.

I was in the shower early in the morning when I started crafting the speech in my head– the greetings, the people and organizations/offices to mention, the list of experiences/knowledge gained by the batch including the places we visited. My mind continued to work during breakfast. What languages will I mention in the greetings? (I decided English, French, Filipino language and end with Arabic (Shukran).” How will I end? I haven’t decided by then, confident that the words will come to me as I was preparing for our morning training session.

By mid-morning, I changed my plan to delivering my speech without notes to preparing my draft, to make sure that I wouldn’t miss anything. On the one hand, I’d be ready with the speech so I didn’t have to worry about it in the afternoon, yet on the other hand, preparing a speech draft would tempt me to look at my notes during the speech and be dependent on it.

Well, I just decided to have notes, and shared the link of the editable file to a senior officer back in Manila as well to my Ambassador in case there are comments.

So, here’s a photo of me delivering the speech during the closing ceremonies in Rabat last 17 Feb. 2023:

By way of conclusion, I would like to share that preparing reports, crafting messages, and drafting speeches are usual tasks in the life of a Foreign Service Officer. In short, weaving words is necessary and a required skill in the job. It may be or may be not challenging for you to do this task, but the vital point is to know your message. Selecting the suitable words to use and the writing style come next.

Author’s Note:

Philippine diplomatic/official passport holders are allowed to enter Morocco visa free for 90 days and if posted there for foreign assignment, for the entire duration of the assignment.

According to the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco, Filipino citizens are exempted from entry visa into Morocco, so please consider it as your next travel destination. 😉 It’s a beautiful country.

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