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Ambassador Urges Students to Participate in Democracy

Published: February 09, 2011
Tiphany Pavlich '14 discusses diplomatic life with Austrian Ambassador to the U.S. Christian Prosl.
Tiphany Pavlich '14 discusses diplomatic life with Austrian Ambassador to the U.S. Christian Prosl.

When UT students asked the Austrian Ambassador to the United States if an open society is a more secure society, in regard to the recent WikiLeaks scandal, his answer was definite.

“An open society is the only society worth living in,” said Christian Prosl on a recent visit to campus. “We can afford to have an open society provided we all fight for it. It means we have to elect our officials and participate. If we don’t participate, we are at fault.”

Prosl was at The University of Tampa on Tuesday as part of the Honors Program’s International Speakers Series. His visit was made possible through a generous gift from the Duckwall Foundation, and he spoke on WikiLeaks and its consequences to international diplomacy.

“I wanted to get an official perspective on WikiLeaks,” said Raul Rios ’11, a government and world affairs major who stood for a photo with the ambassador after the event ended. “I came away with a greater understanding of diplomacy and world policy.”

Tiphany Pavlich ’14, a math major, said that every time she hears a speaker like Prosl, it further ignites her desire to work in international diplomacy.

“It sparks my interest to have the ability to represent the ideas of my country to different nations,” said Pavlich, who enjoyed hearing a different perspective on the U.S. from a non-U.S. source. “This was a great opportunity.”    

Exposure to foreign ideas is what led Prosl to consider a diplomatic career. He was 22, similar in age to Pavlich and Rios, and he took a road trip with his brother and a friend from Vienna, Austria, to Kathmandu, Nepal. Along the way he absorbed everything he saw. Three years later, he repeated the road trip, adding in sites in the Middle East.

“This changed my outlook because I realized that there are people who are much less favored than we are,” Prosl said, “and I realized that I could help them.”

Prosl went on to study globalization and law, lived in India and worked for the United Nations Development Program in Africa for five years. He was the Austrian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany before being named to his Washington, D.C. post in 2009. His advice to students looking for a career in diplomacy is three-fold.

“Be interested in the world and foreign cultures. Learn many languages, and you must like people,” said Prosl. “We have to learn from each other. It’s important students come together from all around the world, take the chance and talk, talk, talk. We have a lot of things to discuss to shape our world, to shape your future.”


Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer 

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