This spring, the Public Diplomacy Council welcomed a new category of Rising Professional members into its ranks. Over the next several weeks, PDC blog readers will have the opportunity to get to know some of these new members via my Q&A series.
I was inspired by Olivia Chavez’s interview with Dr. Sherry Mueller (“Wanted: Young Professionals with a Passion for Public Diplomacy”). As the Public Diplomacy Council pursues its mission of establishing understanding between nations via individuals, these introductions of Rising Professional members should serve to enhance our understanding of one another within the PDC community.
This week, please welcome Mojib Ziarmal Ghaznawi.
(Betsy) Tell us about yourself.
(Mojib) My name is Mojib Ziarmal Ghaznawi and I grew up in Falls Church, VA. My mother is Russian and my father is Afghan, but I never say that I’m half-Russian or half-Afghan. Rather, I fully embrace both cultures and that’s what makes me American. Growing up in a very diverse family, city, and nation I knew that I wanted to be a diplomat as early as elementary school. So I attended the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University for college to get closer to that vision for myself. Currently, I am on track to enter the U.S. Foreign Service in the Summer of 2021 through the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship. Once I graduate from my public policy master’s program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, I look forward to a lifelong career in the U.S. Foreign Service.
How did you learn about the Public Diplomacy Council?
My mentor, personal friend, and PDC Board Member Peter Kovach, recommended I join the newly-minted Rising Professionals. I met Peter at various interfaith gatherings in Washington DC long-before my admission into the Rangel Fellowship. Like any good friend and mentee, I took his advice and immediately applied. Thanks Peter! I hope to fill your great shoes as a Public Diplomacy Officer.
How would you define public diplomacy to a friend who was unfamiliar with the concept?
Public diplomacy is representing the United States to someone who has never personally interacted with an American or the U.S. government before. This representation can be a number of things, but the following is a non-exhaustive list of examples: face-to-face dialogue, cultural programming, media relations, press work, international exchange programs, or just a casual conversation. Many times, Foreign Service Officers are the only interaction many people in the world will have with an American, so in my opinion all diplomats are Public Diplomacy Officers!
Which experience listed on your resume is your favorite?
Before moving to Boston, I was working for the Reed Society for Sacred Arts. The Reed Society is a non-profit dedicated to promoting and preserving traditional art forms that echo spirituality and serve to treat the souls of both the artists and the audience. As Community Outreach Coordinator for the Reed Society, I was the brand ambassador for the non-profit and I attended various interfaith events (which is how I met Peter Kovach), concerts, art galleries, and other cultural programming. Throughout my three years with the Reed Society in DC, I managed and produced six concerts and that’s when I knew with certainty that Public Diplomacy was the only cone for me in the U.S. Foreign Service.
When I’m not in class or calling my family from all over the world, I enjoy playing the flute. Did you know that the word “amateur” comes from the root word “amor?” An amateur musician plays for the love of creativity, so I aspire to be a life-long amateur flautist. When I came to GWU, I picked up jazz and learned to improvise. After learning to improvise confidently, the music of the world opened up for me and I picked up tunes and different traditions every time I travelled. So my act would include some medley of international tunes, Western classical, and some hip-hop, beat-boxing flute!
Elizabeth (Betsy) Cornelius is pursuing her M.A. in International Affairs Policy and Analysis at American University’s School of International Service. There, she applies her experience in Germany and Austria in her research assistantship with the Transatlantic Policy Center.