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Spotlight on Commerce: Tamarind Murietta, Senior Commercial Officer, U.S. Commercial Service in Mozambique

Guest blog post by Tamarind Murietta, Senior Commercial Officer, U.S. Commercial Service in Mozambique

American diplomacy is a critical piece of the global puzzle. As a student of International Relations, how could I consider any other profession? Today I work for the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) in Mozambique. My job is to represent America to many parts of the world—commercially, politically, socially, and culturally. As a diplomat, our oath is to the U.S. Constitution and ensuring American democracy is protected worldwide. The USFCS is devoted to assisting U.S. companies’ export to international markets, as well as, promoting commercial diplomacy and relations. For a Least Developed Country, this can be the reason a mother gets a job with a U.S. company making wages to feed, clothe and shelter her entire extended family.

As the Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique, I get to wake up every day and promote U.S. – Mozambique commercial relations. In an average day, our team can advocate to a foreign minister about an important trade policy, build partnerships with local African businesses and organizations, and plan an upcoming trade mission or participate in an event with international stakeholders debating the U.S. Government (USG) view on a new reform. Sometimes these actions take long hours, but they are always rewarding.

Born in New York City, I had the incredible honor of being surrounded by a smorgasbord of ethnicities learning the power of their differences and the uniqueness of America. Eventually, our family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, which offered another perspective of how compelling international influence can be for our democracy and how America is the global leader ensuring freedom around the world. I have fond memories of walking to the park in Queens and watching elders from dozens of countries play their favorite games while sitting on and around the park benches. And I was always intrigued by passing beautiful mansions in Florida, hearing the stories of multinational business owners and how they became international business leaders in their respective industries. And, as our Nation honors Black History Month, I am reminded of how much these compelling visuals would stick with me as I refine my interests and mature. 

Going through the college application rigmarole, I never expected I would be considered or offered financial support to attend Florida’s flagship university–The University of Florida. While studying, I was regularly enticed by a diverse political landscape and was as involved in extra-curricular organizations as I was in preparing for examinations. International Students Association, Black Student Union, Project Sea World, Multicultural Affairs Cabinet, Florida Blue Key Leadership Honorary, and the list goes on. If you had a cause, I was there. I loved the almost daily discourse I had with others that had a different disposition, character, or background. These conversations last in my soul today and help drive my passion. 

Two years after graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations, I attended graduate school at the University of London, King’s College. This was my first foray outside of the United States for which I received my master’s degree in International Relations. 

Your view of the world can widen broadly when given the chance to live in communities in differing states and nations. Diplomats have the privilege of rising to the same sun yet dancing to a different beat as they move to various locations around the world every couple of years.  There is not one day living overseas that I have not been given the chance to learn or grow. Volunteering and mentoring incredible young people have taught me more than I could ever dream to teach them. I have had the opportunity to judge a science fair for Muslim girls who leapfrogged technology in their community of Mombasa, Kenya by developing innovative solutions to life’s everyday problems. I have had the opportunity to mentor young women fighting through a male-dominated world and who have the character and tenacity to challenge the status quo to be the future leaders of their country Mozambique. I have made lunches for orphans in New Delhi whose highlight of the week is finding a bed to lay their head and having a wholesome lunch. I have participated in fundraising for a new elementary school in the Soweto township in South Africa for children who may or may not have the luxury to attend school on any given day. All these programs have certainly made me a more aware person and is a daily reminder how valuable our freedom and prosperity truly are in America.    

After being sworn-in as a Foreign Service Officer with U.S. Commerce Department in 2014, I wrote a column for the American Foreign Service Association's monthly publication recognizing my indomitable, genuine, classy grandmother for whom there are not enough synonyms to truly summarize her entire spirit. My walking on her shoulders has allowed me to be the person I am today both professionally and personally. Although she was Valedictorian of her class specializing in English literature, she was never able to get more than a job as a maid or secretary because of the color of her skin. Before she passed in 2018 and my last time holding her hand, we recited ‘Invictus’ out loud together. It was her last way of reminding me that ‘I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.’

For those young people who have stumbled across this posting or received it when a loving family member shared using their favorite social media platform, I would say this: The world is waiting. America must do a better job at reflecting the diversity of our country through its diplomatic corps. Sometimes people don’t expect someone who looks like me to show up. But I am here. You are here. We need your skills, talents, background, and experience to truly ensure America is well represented and that our voices are a part of the global conversation.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce African Americans during Black History Month.