Failed to Impress

Talyn Rahman-Figueroa, CEO of Grassroot Diplomat, reflects on world of 2017 and lays out plans for the new diplomatic future. See what she means in her latest Founder's Blog.

Photo Credit: Jane Warren

Photo Credit: Jane Warren

As I sit at my desk with the warm lights of the winter solstice surrounding me, I feel conflicted about my evaluation of 2017. I must have drafted this ‘End of Year’ note at least five times because it sounded so forced, so fake. I was listing down world events in a ‘good, bad, and the ugly’ sort of narrative. But if I were to be really honest, I felt a lot of anger this year because crises that were happening around the world felt oddly personal to me.

For instance, the Rohingya crisis felt personal because leadership in my mother’s homeland were arrogantly shutting refugees out, smiling and simply saying that the Rohingyas were not their problem. The Brexit crisis felt personal because friends and family were struggling to plan for their future. The rise of far-right leadership felt personal because women, ethnic minorities, migrant families, same sex couples, and those with a religious identity no longer felt safe and wanted in their own communities. The Gulf diplomatic crisis felt personal because people I know were unable to travel to their families and found themselves suddenly landlocked and without hope. The devastation caused by hurricanes in the Caribbean was personal because my family members were left without water, electricity, and aid for months, and are still struggling to survive.

I can’t be the only person feeling as though diplomacy has become personal over the years. Diplomacy is no longer conversations between state-to-state leaders behind closed doors and it shouldn’t just be shrugs from diplomats waiting on news from HQ. Diplomacy hits right at home and right at the heart because talks, negotiations, actions and decisions at top level impacts the lives of ordinary people in so many levels. That is why I have decided that the role and activities of Grassroot Diplomat needs to change as the needs of people everywhere in the world is changing.

As an organisation that has the name ‘grassroot’ and ‘diplomat’ in its DNA, we must be able to equip people with the tools, development, and confidence to make everyone become an effective diplomat - a one-member leader who can act independently, both inside and outside of the government.

As my team and I work overtime during the Christmas period to roll out our new brand, vision and programmes for 2018, I want to give you assurance that we are changing with you. We have made plenty of mistakes and will continue to make mistakes as part of our evolution. Just as a toddler falls over and over again when they learn to walk, we as individuals must continue to stand up each time we are knocked back - whether it be by a hurricane, a fire or a bully standing in your way.

My final words for you this year is to start 2018 with a plan and make that plan work for you. I want to know what you want to do and how you will get there, and I want Grassroot Diplomat to be your partner every step of the way.

Ask yourself:

  1. What issues am I most passionate about?

  2. What skills do I have right now that I can use today?

  3. What part of the world shall I focus on even if it may be local?

  4. How can I develop in my area of passion in the country of my choice using the skills that I have today?


Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. And good luck.


Serving you with light and hope.

Talyn Rahman-Figueroa
CEO, Grassroot Diplomat