‘Hometown diplomat’ returns to Pa. roots

Vincent Chiappetta

Nora B. Dempsey, United States Consul to Tunisia and Pittsburgh native, spoke with students at a roundtable discussion on Tuesday about the important role diplomacy plays in the world of foreign affairs. At this event, sponsored by the Arab and Islamic Studies Program, Dempsey met with a group of students in the St. Augustine Center, answering questions and discussing what college students nationwide can do to heighten their awareness of foreign affairs and actively participate in spreading diplomacy.

“The State Department is interested in students at Villanova,” Dempsey said. The department has recognized the students at the University as being especially interested in world affairs. This is evidenced by students’ active involvement in programs such as the Arab and Islamic Studies Program, which is not offered by many schools.

Dempsey came to the University as part of the Hometown Diplomat Program, which involves diplomats speaking in their native states. The program was established by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Dempsey has observed a major problem in our country. “I’m afraid of America’s ignorance,” she said. “I love this country and I carry my diplomatic passport proudly, but what could be our undoing is our ignorance.” She suggested that this ignorance can sometimes be interpreted as arrogance.

Despite this problem, Dempsey emphasized that students should not be afraid to find a solution. She stated that the nation must begin reaching out instead of looking inward, and the first step is to become educated.

“The Internet and CNN are not enough for us to ensure a peaceful future,” Dempsey said.

She stated that students must realize that they are sons and daughters of immigrants and understand that every nation touches the United States in some way. Therefore, students owe it to themselves as citizens of the world to read newspapers that report from a global perspective or learn a foreign language in an effort to actively pursue knowledge of foreign affairs.

Dempsey also emphasized the need for Americans to utilize and exercise their liberties, especially the right to vote, an option many do not have. “The whole world needs you to exist as a vision to hold onto when things are going bad,” she said.

“Diplomacy is an art, not a skill,” Dempsey said, admitting that human beings are in fact, a difficult species.

Conflict and controversy arise between nations all the time, necessitating persistence, experience, and creativity to assure peaceful resolutions.

Junior Ryan MacMaster agreed with Dempsey. “Students at Villanova are becoming more and more aware of the world around them and we’re taking steps in the right direction,” he said.

Upon entering the Foreign Service in 1987, Dempsey has served as a negotiator for the Middle East Peace Process, a point person for the Middle East and Africa handling political portfolios at the U.S. Embassy in Rome and as Director of African Affairs for the National Security Council.

She has spent the last two years learning Arabic, her sixth language.