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Ambassador Michelle Kwan on working in Belize: “We’re representing every single day”

Posted: Thursday, May 18, 2023. 10:31 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: U.S. Ambassador to Belize Michelle Kwan is yet another sold on why Belize is “The Jewel,” after taking over her post just five months ago.

Following a glittering figure skating career she started at the age of five, her second life has been as a mother of a two-year-old daughter and working in public service as a representative of the United States. But as she told writer Lynda Lin Grigsby for Shondaland in an interview, the two do have something in common: “Both require a lot of hard work and practice to represent your country on the world stage. Both require a universal commitment to fair play. And just as importantly, both sports and diplomacy bring people together from all walks of life while building multinational and cross-cultural ties.”

And to do it in Belize is extra-special, Kwan says, citing the country’s diversity, youth, democracy and environmental biodiversity – from the Barrier Reef to forests, mangroves and archaeological sites.

And no, her work does not involve lying on the beach drinking piña coladas with a little umbrella; while she has taken in Belizean culture, people, food and all that Belize has to offer, she is most interested in connecting with Belizeans and strengthening and expanding the relationship between the United States and Belize, while also representing the former and managing their security.

Sports, according to Ambassador Kwan, has cured her of “imposter syndrome” in her second career: “I don’t think confidence is something that one person has, and the other person doesn’t. I think you have to work really hard at it and show up prepared. I think it’s because if I don’t know, I will know. If I don’t have a skill set, I will attain it. I try my very best to meet my own expectations of who I want to be. If anything, I learned that being yourself is so critical. I’m not perfect. I have imperfections. I make mistakes, and I learned from them. I try to lead by example.”

And her advice, whether to be a diplomat or an Olympian, remains the same: “I love that sense of hope and dreams and that kind of aspiration because I find it so beautiful. We need good people in politics. We need more people in service. I always encourage young people, whatever their wishes or their aspirations might be, just to continue.”

 

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