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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

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SEPTEMBER 2015

33

L

et’s just call a spade a spade.

Shortly after I got news of receiving the

W. Averell Harriman Award for Construc-

tive Dissent, I went running with our

consul general at post.

I go running a few times a week around

a dusty old field in front of the consulate. I

find the hot midday sun in Baja California

somewhat more pleasing than adjudicat-

ing visas in my cubicle. And when the CG has the time, he likes

the opportunity to exercise and mentor entry-level officers.

“So, not to take away anything from your achievement,” he

starts, as we round the curve near the carcass of a dead dog.

“Sir?” I manage to pant as I trip over the curb. (Our CG is twice

my size; my short legs have to move twice as fast to keep up.)

“Your article. Well written.” He sails over some trash. “But it

seemed like too easy a win. Nobody dissents anymore. I won-

der if anyone else was even nominated.”

Now, some people might have taken offense at that. I just

took it on the chin. I’ll take honesty over platitudes any day.

Amelia Shaw joined the Foreign Service (public diplo-

macy cone) in 2014 after careers in journalism and public

health. She is currently doing consular work in Tijuana,

her first post. She is the 2015 recipient of the W. Averell Harriman Award for Constructive Dissent.

FOCUS

ON AFSA AWARDS AND DISSENT

DECONSTRUCTING

Dissent

At heart, dissent is about integrity,

speaking up on issues that matter,

regardless of whether or not we think

we can actually change anything.

BY AME L I A SHAW