By Kerry E. Molinelli
To meet the growing demand for training opportunities and professional development for locally employed (LE) staff, the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and the regional bureaus’ Training Centers rely on dedicated adjunct faculty to teach FSI courses out in the field. The innovative Adjunct Faculty Program is a partnership and a practical solution to address the Department of State’s voracious appetite for LE staff training in locations other than Washington, D.C.
While the FSI campus in Arlington, Va., is the training destination for most of the Department’s Foreign Service and civil service employees, it is much harder for the Department’s LE staff to travel to FSI in order to receive training. The cost of travel to the Washington area and the enormous competition for each seat in an LE-specific course offered at FSI are both barriers that cannot always be overcome. The Adjunct Faculty Program makes LE staff training and professional development available overseas at locations much closer to post. More training in the field means more access for LE staff and ultimately contributes to a more skilled and agile Department workforce.
The adjunct program has grown steadily over the past decade in both numbers and popularity. Posts and LE staff that have participated in the program view the adjunct instructors as an invaluable resource. However, as the program moves into its second decade, its continued success will depend on more adjunct faculty entering the program.
Adjunct development programs are available around the world, and the opportunities for adjunct faculty training are announced in advance and managed by the regional training centers in Frankfurt, Bangkok, Fort Lauderdale and the Africa program, in collaboration with FSI. Each regional center will decide how to capitalize on these training opportunities and will recruit adjunct faculty as needed and in line with the demand of that region for training. The recruits that enter the program as adjunct candidates, emerge as FSI-certified instructors in leadership, supervisory, customer service, office skills or other courses developed specifically for LE staff. While in training, adjunct candidates practice delivering the curricula and receive regular feedback in order to build skills and confidence. This process ensures that the adjunct trainers are ready to lead classrooms and that their students receive the same high-quality lessons no matter where the course is delivered.
Adjunct instructors who volunteer for the program come from a variety of backgrounds and sections within a mission. FSI and the regional centers seek adjunct faculty with diverse experience to participate in the program, not just those with teaching or training experience. Common to all adjunct faculty, however, is dedication and enthusiasm for adjunct work. This provides the motivation to prepare for classes and keep current with their regularly assigned duties. The adjunct faculty acknowledge that the program provides a special opportunity for an individual’s personal and professional growth, but also as a chance to serve their fellow LE colleagues—a benefit that far outweighs the extra work.
Recently-certified adjunct June Morii from Tokyo said that being in the program “Requires a lot of work to learn/own the content and prepare for a course along with our other full-time jobs; however, it is extremely rewarding to see the participants learn about themselves and learn new skills throughout the course.”
The success of the adjunct faculty program also depends on the strong support that the adjunct faculty receive from posts and supervisors all over the world. Ryan Sampson from Georgetown, Guyana, was one of the first adjunct faculty members to join the program, and he credits a decade of supervisory support for his ability to remain as adjunct faculty.
When Management Officer Charles “Cam” Matack, in Nogales, Mexico, nominated an employee to become an adjunct instructor he claimed it would be a “great boon for Nogales,” boosting morale and job skills across Mission Mexico.
FSI and the regional centers recognize that providing such support for duties beyond post-specific requirements can be challenging, but they encourage posts to consider the long term benefits of increased access to training for LE staff and of allowing LE staff to become adjunct faculty.
The Department can only meet its goals by having a highly skilled and motivated workforce. The adjunct faculty program contributes to this goal by harnessing the skills of a few individuals and creating a force multiplier effect that impacts thousands of people, in a flexible and cost-effective manner. FSI is proud to partner with regional bureaus, posts and the adjunct faculty to help train and empower LE staff around the world as valued members of the Department’s “one team.”
Kerry E. Molinelli is the regional training coordinator at the Foreign Service Institute.