From R-L: Vice Consul, Kim Greene-Konneh/front desk team
By: J K K Peah
Nearly every Liberian will have nothing good to say about their diplomatic post around the world when you ask them or they lament their encounter with any of their diplomatic posts for services.
I also experienced first hand the ordeal many Liberians had to deal with when they go to their country’s diplomatic post anywhere in the world. They have no shortage of gut ranching unfortunate experiences, ranching from bad and unprofessional customer service to poor services and outright negligence of staff responsibilities and neglect of their sovereign duty to protect their citizens in the country they are posted to represent the interest their country. In most instance, these foreign missions are detached from Liberians and the foreign counties they are posted.
This sad tale which spans across Liberia’s diplomatic posts globally, has in fact, has an unbelievable exception- and that exception is the country’s diplomatic post in New York (the Liberian Consulate of New York).
I had never been so proud to be a Liberian in a long time, especially in the advent of prevailing conditions in the country, when I shockingly saw a world-class and stunning professional diplomatic services delivered to customers who went to or called into the Consulate. I got first sense of this new phenomena when I placed a call a week earlier to the Consulate and was astonished with the professional customer service.
Not thinking much of the exemplary customer service I received, I went to the Consulate for service and from the onset of my visit, I tested the level of maturity of the front desk and to my amazement, the two young ladies proved they worth the essence of being employed at a country’s Consulate at the front desk.
I was very impressed with their professional services which included calm, maturity, sophistication and their exceptional ability to put their customers at ease.
Within 20 minutes, this incredible team was done with my transaction and told me my product would be ready by 2:00 pm since I wanted a sameday service.
I had the option to go and do sightseeing, with the United Nations just feet away and explore the beauty of the world’s greatest city, New York. I decided, instead, to wait at the Consulate waiting area where you see and hear every transaction, from passport and visa services as well as other diplomatic services.
Two specific instances still get me fascinated and that involve an elderly Liberian woman who was taken to the Consulate by her son, interestingly, a friend I have not seen for a very long time. It was jaw-dropping to have seen the Vice Consul, Kim Greene-Konneh who does the interviewing of customers for visas, passport and other services outstandingly perform her duties at a pedigree, second to none in class. She performed her duty with superb professionalism- putting the elderly lady at ease and treating her in the traditional Liberian cultural Morales, as if she were her mother just as the Liberian culture dedicates the elderly be treated with reverence as if they are your mother or father as she called her “Oldma”, as fond of the Liberian culture.
Another unforgettable moment I quietly witnessed was, a 17 year old Liberian who was companied by his social workers to get his passport. I can’t clear off the beam of happiness and pride h exhibited- he goggled at every word the Vice Consular uttered, happily laughing out his appreciation to as he said, ” aint hear the typical” Liberian pigeon English for long- something he had not heard for a very long time, he said. The 17 year old was filled with exuberance when the Vice Consul cleverly tried to determine his claim to Liberian citizenship by asking him for his place of birth. He told her he was born in Jallah’s Town in Monrovia but at J F Kennedy Hospital.
After the Vice Consul had done interviewing the young Liberian and told him to post to get his photo taken for his passport, being fascinated with the service he had received, found it difficult composing himself for the photo as he kept smiling and goggling as the result of the professional and gold standard service he received. He said, he felt he was in Liberia again and brought back old memories of his bringing up there.
I call on the Liberian government to pour in more resources into its diplomatic missions and recommend the success story at the New York Consulate be used as the “gold standard” in transforming the country’s public diplomacy to meet challenges of the twenty-first century.