by Rachel Schindler
While tens of thousands of angry protesters were flooding Cairo streets Saturday leading the government of Egypt to resign, 7,000 miles away representatives of the Dominican Republican spent the day in their Miami Consulate learning about emotions and communication skills to help them be friendlier with each other, strengthen families, and be more responsive to the needs of their citizens.
“The training taught me to be a better listener,” a senior official said afterward. “When we open to the public on Monday, I know the people coming to us for services and help will see the difference.”
The entire staff of the Dominican Republic’s Miami Consulate participated in the weekend training to improve communication, understand emotions in themselves and others, and promote peaceful conflict resolution.
Francisco Robledo, Director of Hispanic Programs for the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation in Weston, Florida, and his wife, Viviana, led the training. Mr. Robledo said he expects the result will be friendlier, more responsive services for the 1.3 million Dominicans who live in the United States.
“Understanding emotions, learning to listen with empathy, avoiding misunderstandings, and knowing how to solve problems will help the embassy staff improve relationships among their families, co-workers, and the people they serve,” Mr. Robledo said.
Seth Eisenberg, President of PAIRS Foundation, said the program is a model that should be widely expanded.
“For over a million Dominicans living in the U.S., Embassy officials are the face and voice of their nation,” Mr. Eisenberg said. “By helping them improve communication and problem solving within their families and among each other, they’ll be better able to understand and help their citizens.”
Embassy officials agreed.
“The PAIRS workshop surpassed our expectations and we are immediately seeing the benefits among our staff,” said Vice-Consul Luis Delgado. “At a personal level, it helped me identify many faults in my behavior of the past. Thanks to the workshop, in just a short time I have been able to identify them and now I can correct them in the future.”
“Our staff has benefited greatly from the PAIRS training,” added Vice-Consul Oscar Rios. “We are very grateful.”
Embassy officials said they hope to expand the training to other locations throughout the United States and in the Dominican Republic.
Rachel Schindler, a member of PAIRS Foundation’s research and grant support team, earned her BA in Psychology and Sociology. She is workin