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APA Board and CIRP Meet with Chilean Diplomats

Description of a dinner meeting between the Committee on International Relations in Psychology and and Chilean Embassy.

By Merry Bullock, PhD

At the recent APA Spring Consolidated meetings, the members of the Board of Directors and the members of the Committee on International Relations in Psychology (CIRP) received a dinner invitation from the Chilean Embassy, sent as a result of APA President James Bray’s international outreach to the Washington diplomatic community. Why Chile? Prompted by a long-standing relation between his institution, Baylor College of Medicine, and Chilean professional students, Bray asked the APA Special Projects office to see whether APA could host a Board dinner at the Chilean Embassy. The gracious answer from the Ambassador of Chile was to invite APA to dinner at his residence.

On the Thursday before the consolidated meetings began, thirty APA members including the Board of Directors, CIRP, and selected staff, knocked at the door of the Chilean Ambassador’s residence on “Embassy Row” in Washington. They were greeted by Deputy Chief of Mission, Fernando Varela, who expressed a longstanding interest in international academic and science exchange. Varela was joined by two senior diplomats, Paola Palma and Rodrigo Meza, who lead the embassy’s efforts in promoting educational, cultural and scientific exchanges. The Ambassador himself had been recalled to Chile to assume the post of foreign minister in the current government.

The evening began with greetings and lively conversation over appetizers, as the APA guests and Chilean hosts discovered areas of mutual interest, knowledge and excitement. Dinner continued with conversation and toasts to the Chilean hosts from James Bray, President, and Carol Goodheart, President- Elect. Following dinner the guests assembled in the front hall where Dr. Bray presented the embassy with gifts from APA. These included a copy of the American Psychologist with the original art that appeared on its cover – a signed and framed photo, a copy of the APA Dictionary of Psychology, and glass wine coasters made by a traditional US glass-blower. The guests brought gifts as well – Dr. Bray presented the Deputy Minister with two bottles of rare Chilean wine, and CIRP member Laura Johnson, PhD, brought a hand thrown vase from her family kiln.

In conversation, APA guests and the Chilean diplomats explored areas of possible collaboration. They discussed how to facilitate scientific and scholarly exchange, for example at the upcoming Interamerican Congress of Psychology and at the APA convention. They also discussed bringing psychology to the public eye and agreed to explore collaborations at the United Nations in developing educational workshops or seminars for the United Nations midday meetings. Ψ