The PCV’s Cookbook: 10 Steps for Hosting Chief Bureaucrats

If you asked a 100 people on the street what it feels like to host a chief bureaucrat, the majority of them would not be able to answer the question. Up until this week I was amongst this crowd. However, we were fortunate enough to receive a visit from the director of the Peace Corps, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, and the deputy Chief of Mission to the US Embassy in Kyiv, George Kent. So, take it from me. When hosting chief bureaucrats you should…

1. Have a great team

The team at the Center for Legal Aid have become more than friends to me. Equally important, my host-family also played a major role in the success of the visit. It is obvious they are all now family. We could not have pulled off a successful visit alone. It took a group effort. They pulled me back when I moved off course. And, when they needed my support I was there for them.

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(Photo by Henry Shymonovych)

2. Prepare to take charge

You must remember that these people are like guest in your house. They are waiting for you to tell them where to go and the proper things to do. No matter their position, do not be afraid to tell them what to do or where to go when you are hosting them.

3. Be prepared

The planning for this visit began about a month beforehand. We planned out a detailed schedule. What we were going to speak about and how we were going to deliver the information. From PowerPoints to hot water for tea, it took hours of planning and preparation before the meeting took place.

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(Photo by Henry Shymonovych)

4. Plan to change plans

All planning is good. But, what do you do when the plans change? At this point it is important to look to the primary itinerary planner to ask how to properly adjust the schedule. If you don’t you will make a mistake.

5. Plan detailed logistics

This goes beyond your schedule. I am talking about how your guest will get to the office and what they will do when they are there. For instance, there was a marathon going on the day on our visit. We were not prepared for this which became a logistical problems. And, when your guests get out of a two hour car ride they will need to use the restroom. (It may sound simple, but this is something we overlooked.)

6. Take a breathe

Yes, the people who are coming to your site are very important. However, you need to understand that it is a very stressful situation. Acknowledge that fact, and get your mind right; trust your instincts. Do not fear to make a mistake or go where your intuition takes you.

7. Don’t freak out. (Understand that they were once in your shoes)

Believe it or not the “big wigs” who will be knocking on your door were once in your shoes. They know what it feels like to host someone important. They are people too. Do not forget that your guest want you to succeed and understand your stress.

8. Share your experience

The people who are coming to your site have been told your team is doing great things in the community. This is your time to share with them your experience. Be honest about the challenges you faced and transparent about the future opportunities in your community.

9. Look to others when adoration is given to you

There will come a time when you have presented all the work your team has done and your guest will want to praise you for the great projects your team has worked on. This is a time for you to look out the window, not in the mirror. In that, great people finish a task and look to give others credit because they understand that nothing would be possible without a fantastic team.

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(Photo by Henry Shymonovych)

10. Understand you are where you are because the people around you

This may seem like repetition, but that is for a reason. The people who surround you on a daily basis are the people that make your life matter. Share the praise. Share the challenge. Share the triumph.

*These are the thoughts and ideas of Richard J. Roman, and are in no way associated with the Peace Corps or its affiliates.

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