I worked my first Representational Event this week, and it was my third time being at the Ambassador’s Residence in the two months that we’ve been here. From a work perspective, I would say that the first two don’t really count. They were both welcome parties, one for embassy staff to meet each other and the other for the new embassy staff to meet the other members of the diplomatic community.

The diplomatic community is tiny. There are only a handful of embassies in Belmopan, mostly Central American, plus the Mexican Embassy, the British High Commission and the European Union Technical Office. The rest are in Belize City. Many countries, like France, Russia and China, don’t even have a presence here. At least it’s easy to get to know people. And they all seem to be interested in making a difference.

This week’s event was a book launch for a children’s book called Pat the (Great) Cat. The book itself is pretty neat. It’s part of a literacy project in Belize and is a true story about a captured wild jaguar told from the perspective of school children in Belize and in the US. The book is written in both English and Spanish and published by SHARP Literacy. It is also a teaching tool with a glossary and comprehension questions with each chapter.

My job title for the morning was “Children Wrangler.” I thought that was great and will have to add that to my resume. Part of the program included a song performed by a local children’s choir. So it was my job, along with the Pol/Econ Admin Assistant and the Community Liaison Officer (who was doubling as an official photographer), to supervise the kids when they weren’t singing. There were about 20 children, and they also had three of their teachers present, so at least someone could be stern with them if they got out of hand. But no one did. They were lovely, polite, enthusiastic, and couldn’t wait to sing their song.

In the meantime we shepherded them to and from the bathrooms, organized them into groups so they could be photographed or read to, escorted them through the buffet line, made sure most of them had plastic plates instead of the State Department china (and didn’t fuss at the ones that didn’t), we brought them sodas and water and juice and second helpings of fish and chicken, applauded enthusiastically when they finished their song, then herded them all safely back out the gate with their parting gifts of chocolate, pictures of jaguars and jaguar bookmarks.

It really was a sweet event and a nice change of pace from my normal duties. Now I have to go buy the book.

From the photo gallery at http://www.PattheGreatCat.com.

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