I have a newfound respect for arms reduction experts, treaty negotiators, and diplomats of all portfolios.

Carter and Brezhnev back in the day

I’m honored to have been part of a recent delegation from GlassHospital U. to Wuhan University in Hubei Province, China.

The leadership of Wuhan’s medical school has embarked on an ambitious educational reform plan and has sought outside consultation to help with the effort.

Through past collaboration with a non-governmental organization in the combatting of AIDS in the province, relationships were built that led to a furthering of invitations and partnerships.

A flowering, if you will.

Such is the nature of diplomacy: Building carefully constructed relationships on top of one another in the furtherance of joint goals. It takes a lot of energy and hard work to pull it off. The unsung heroes of the effort are the interpreters, without whom the flower would quickly wilt.

The biggest diplomatic show of 'em all

We’re privileged with bilingual experts on both ends of the relationship. They not only make the agendas for our meetings take shape, they are with us most of the way, translating from one side to another and back again.

But it’s a lot more than words and phrases. It involves cultural understanding and hospitality; travel and accommodation arrangements. Food and entertainment. Logistics. And lots more food. In short, the whole kaboodle.

The dignitaries/delegates at these types of meetings that sign off on the joint memoranda of understanding (the “products”) get all the glory, but like many in the world who are under-recognized, it’s the interpreters that make it all possible.

My hat is way off to those whose facility with language helps us bridge our differences and make the world a more harmonious place, one small step at a time.