On the 5th of April 2022, the RIAS was honored to welcome U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Marja Verloop in giving the first William J. vanden Heuvel Memorial Lecture. Chargé Verloop opened her lecture by acknowledging that international diplomacy had gained a greater deal of topicality and urgency in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She proceeded to speak on how this brought to mind a pivotal moment from early in her diplomatic career in Poland during the country’s accession to NATO in 1999. Chargé Verloop described how she found herself simply overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and appreciation of the Polish people at the time. These memories, however, also gave her pause to reflect upon the contrasting experiences of Ukraine during the intervening years. Chargé Verloop then went on to discuss how the Russian invasion had nonetheless resulted in a reaffirmation of the transatlantic commitments of the United States and its European partners, and had led to decisive actions in support of Ukraine.
A highly engaging questions and answers session with the Chargé d’Affaires, chaired by RIAS staff member Giles Scott-Smith, then followed. A broad ranging discussion followed, within which Chargé Verloop elaborated upon the distinct challenges, as well as the often less appreciated opportunities, that being a woman within the foreign service has presented. She also spoke on the challenges that social media increasingly poses to diplomacy. However, as she sagely pointed out, this just happened to be one significant aspect of an always ever changing, and therefore exciting, vocation.
The invitation can be downloaded here.