FILE PHOTO: MICHELLE LUBERTO FOR THE HOYA Claudia Fritsche, Liechtenstein’s ambassador to the United States, remarked on the changes she has noted in her 40-year career in foreign service.
Claudia Fritsche, Liechtenstein’s ambassador to the United States, remarked on the changes she has noted in her 40-year career in foreign service.

Claudia Fritsche, Liechtenstein’s ambassador to the United States, recounted her career in foreign service in an event hosted by the International Relations Club at the Mortara Center on Wednesday evening.

Fritsche, Lichtenstein’s first female diplomat and a former ambassador to the United Nations, has worked in foreign service for over 40 years, witnessing changes in the field of diplomacy throughout her career.

“I think diplomacy has changed a great deal,” Fritsche said. “Traditional diplomacy entailed that the diplomats would interact with government officials and with whatever was going on in the world. That was pretty much how they operated. However, I think that the demands on today’s diplomats are very different.”

Fritsche said that foreign service officers act as a conduit for effective communication among different countries by serving as a bridge between them.

“Today, CNN and others bring in news, and we don’t do that,” Fritsche said. “We analyze, we comment, we explain and I truly believe that we often, we are translators or interpreters between two cultures.”

Because of this role, Fritsche pointed to social skills as one of the most important skills for diplomats.

“Interpersonal skills are essential,” Fritsche said. “It all comes down to convincing your counterpart and being able to translate a message from your country. You have to love interacting with people. Besides your professional skills, that is the most important thing.”

In addition to social ability, Fritsche said that a good foreign service professional must understand the rules and customs of business proceedings in other countries to avoid unintentionally coming off as rude.

“Those are just cultural differences that are small, but the ambassador has to explain them to the rest of the delegation, otherwise it may be perceived as an insult,” she said. “When I go back home, I spend half a day to go over the program, and prepare them, so there are no misunderstandings.”

As the ambassador of a small country, Fritsche said that she prioritizes teaching others about Liechtenstein through extensive travel.

“In my case, being the ambassador of a small country, that was very important. Many people knew a little bit, but not a lot,” Fritsche said. “I have visited 48 out of the 50 in the U.S., and that is really what makes you understand how people tick. Washington is a lovely bubble, but it is a bubble, and you have to go beyond that.”

Andrea Stanciu (COL ’18), who attended the event, said she enjoyed the conversation because she was interested in learning about Fritsche’s career.

“Ambassador Fritsche’s ability to engage us on a personal level and her warmth engaged me from the very first minutes of her speech,” Stanciu said. “I felt inspired by Ambassador Fritsche and her passion for diplomacy. Her story in advancing her profession from scratch to being an ambassador in a male-dominated field was moving, and I can confidently say that she has become a role model for me.”

Sarah Von Faber-Castell (COL ’18) said she enjoyed Fritsche’s anecdotes and high level of engagement with her audience.

“I came here tonight because I am interested in going into politics,” Von Faber-Castell said. “I thought it was great because she gave such a personal note in international relations and politics, unlike other presentations where they only talk about the country. She really got us all engaged and I thought that was fantastic.”

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