Many countries that are considered world powers by international authorities on such matters have earned their reputations through bluster and, oft times, by force. When our neighbor to the immediate north uses different diplomatically based tactics, some of its citizens decry these as a sign of weakness. TIME, in their October 3rd issue, published a factoid in their ‘This Just In’ column that might partially explain the increasingly bellicose stance supported by a strident minority of our citizens: 3% of our population owns 50% of our nation’s firearms.
Thus it was with a sense of palpable relief and, to be honest, pride in America, when the United States Consulate General’s Office based in Tijuana recently sent a highly qualified group of its specialists our way to, as President Ronald Reagan once urged Russia,‘tear down (not construct) those walls’…whether imaginary or built of sterner stuff. We hope you will enjoy this current success story.
Heading up the team was Preeti Shah, the TJ’s US Consulate Generals Public Affairs Officer. A career diplomat, prior to her Mexican assignment, she served as Press Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua, INL Counter Narcotics Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, and as Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul Turkey. More recently she has served as the Public Affairs Officer in the Haiti Special Coordinators Office in Washington, D.C. and also as a Foreign Policy Advisor in the office of Senator Dick Durbin. She has also served on the Foreign Policy Board of Examiners. Originally from Michigan, Ms. Shah holds a dual Bachelors Degree in International Relations and Economics from Claremont-McKenna College in Claremont, California. When she told us that she would like to have Jorge Gutierrez, the brilliant creator of the award-winning film ‘The Book of Life,’ come to lecture the at-risk children members of the Rosarito Club, we were very impressed with her view of a future with no limitations for our local youngsters. Her companion and colleague from the Consulate’s Public Affairs Program, Support Specialist Jose Maria Noriega, was along to augment every phase of Preeti’s ambitious program.
Also part of the crackerjack team that the Consulate created for their trip south were the soccer specialists: veteran coach Michelle De La Torre from Newberry Park, CA and her superstar daughter, Lauryn .who is an integral member of the MSL’s LA Galaxy Youth Development Program . Prior to coaching with the Galaxy’s experienced staff, she played at the competitive club level and later went on to play collegiate soccer. Growing up, she found that soccer played a very influential role in her life and truly helped establish the high quality service oriented professional that she has become today. Lauryn learned life skills such as teamwork, the value of the ‘hard-work’ ethic, having a positive attitude, and most importantly how to be able to walk away from the competitive ‘battlefields’ having formed long-lasting & close relationships with both teammates and competitors. She and her mother were definitely great role models for our Rosarito youngsters on that very special day in which they shared their skills expertise and exemplary character.
The capper to the great visitation from the U.S. Consulate’s was when the Consul General himself. William A. (Will) Ostick paid a surprise concurrent visit himself and joined Club President Rosy Torres in putting on a surfing clinic, in collaboration with The Surfrider’s Foundation, for all the youngsters who are current members. As the 40,000 square foot facility in Colonia Lucio Blanco nears completion and the daily membership can be expanded from 150 to 600, more of the area’s youth will be able to join in the great daily programs that Rosy, the Club’s Director, Evelyn Freyding, and their rapidly expanding staff are adding.
To say that we in Rosarito are proud of (the) U.S. is definitely an understatement. Stay tuned for more great developments that will be announced very soon.