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Thursday 22 February 2018
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Diplomat tells pupils: Learn from mistakes

DON’T be afraid to make mistakes in life, an audience of youngsters was advised by new Australia High Commissioner to TT John Pilbeam, as he presented his credentials yesterday to President Anthony Carmona at President’s House, St Ann’s.

At Carmona’s request, Pilbeam who is a career diplomat whose postings range from Jamaica to South Korea, shared life-advice with several young guests of Carmona from local schools.

“There will always be a next time,” advised Pilbeam. “The more mistakes you make is the better you will get.

Everything is a learning experience.” He even urged the pupils to consider a career in diplomacy, as he fondly looked back at his 40 years serving Australia.

“It’s a really great job,” he advocated. “You get to live in other countries and try to understand them.” This process also lets a diplomat understand himself/ herself a bit better, he added.

“Your life develops.

You become a more sensitive person, to the world as it is. You become a more educated person,” he related.

“When you are finished, you feel that has been a good working- life. There are few jobs as stimulating in life as the Foreign Service.

Just go out and do it!” Pilbeam also gave insights into life in Australia, which climatically he said is a harsh place. “It is not an easy place to live in so many ways. We have lots of poisonous snakes and a variable climate of droughts that can last 10 years, and floods which end the droughts.” He explained how Australia overcame its handicaps. “We have to keep changing, adjusting to the world outside, while remaining true to our guiding principles.” Pilbeam said Australia is not a member of any vast organisation such as the European Union, but is an independent, self-sufficient nation.

Explaining Australia’s success, he said “It is about working hard and working differently all the time. You need as strong social structure in your country to encourage people to makes changes in themselves.” Recalling Australia’s switch in exports from butter and wool to iron and coal over the years he said the country now competes in a competitive world with no previous “Empire preference” for exports to England. “We have had to keep on changing, including the way we work,” he explained.

Pilbeam said Australia is an immigrant society — where 25 percent of persons have at least one parent born outside — united by a general agreement on the national values of fairness and hard work.” Replying to a pupil’s query about the lot of Aboriginals, Australia deputy high commissioner, Tracey Haines, said that community had challenges but she as a person of mixed aboriginal-white heritage had overcome difficulties, saying, “My background made me stronger”. President Carmona hailed Australia’s jurisprudence and their prosecutors, both of which had helped him as a United Nations judge in the Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia.

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