In January 2021, for the first time, I was hired to teach a course about diplomacy to international business administration majors in Mexico.
It was an incredible experience that I recommend that everybody go through at least once. I have always been interested in teaching but did not have the chance before. Everybody in my family has taught at university, so I think it runs in the family, and I was the exception till January.
As I mentioned in a previous post, in International Relations studies, not everybody has the chance to take a course about diplomacy. It is less so for students of international business administration, so it was a unique opportunity.
After more than 20 years as a practitioner of diplomacy, teaching a course about the subject was not as easy as I thought.
Teaching is definitely hard work. I now appreciate even more all the efforts my professors made so I could learn about the course they taught. I have realized that you can teach, but it is not guaranteed that your students will learn.
After being a long-life learner, I had some ideas of what works and what does not, but it is very different being responsible of the class as a professor.
In preparation for the course, I had to read many books and articles to organize the ideas and make them more accessible for the students to understand.
It was a labor-intensive process that required me to think thoroughly about the course, from identifying materials and videos to assessment and student participation. Only teaching teaches you how necessary is preparation for the class.
Through the semester, I enjoyed immensely interacting with my students, and like most professors, I also became a learner of their experiences and perspectives.
Being a professor means being humble because you don´t have all the answers, so it helps you look at yourself from a different perspective.
If teaching in person is a challenge, imparting classes via videoconferencing is a true character test for the teacher and the students. Even for them, used to spend long hours behind the screen (whether a videogame, tablet, computer, or smartphone), was a difficult process. But their enthusiasm and energy help us all to have a successful learning experience.
What I most relished in the semester was when my students asked questions and shared experiences and ideas because I knew they were following the class and dared to inquire or talk about their encounters or thoughts.
In summary, teaching taught me:
I want to thank all my students for giving me the experience of a lifetime.
I also want to tell all my teachers the great appreciation that I have for them, for working so hard so I could learn the subjects of their courses.
Rodrigo Márquez Lartigue
Diplomat interested in the development of Consular and Public Diplomacies.