By Zuleika Lewis
TAIPEI, Taiwan— Two months into her first posting as a diplomat, retired career educator Andrea Bowman says her almost 40 years of being an administrator has been an asset to her new diplomatic post.
On Aug. 8, St. Vincent and the Grenadines opened its embassy in Taiwan with Bowman at the helm of a three member staff, which included Minister Counsellor Elroy Wilson, and Taiwanese Diana Chao, the secretary.
“It’s safe to say that I had no expectations,” Bowman said two months after the embassy opened its doors.
“It was just ok. I’ve been asked to do this job and I’m going to do it. I came ready to do and see and fill. My administrative experience has really helped me a lot. Because of this whole process of getting the embassy started and established, I can see where having being an administrator has worked to my benefit.”
Bowman said she had never visited Taiwan before being appointed ambassador and had no preconceived ideas of what it would be like.
“We opened on the 8th of August and me with, my naivety and ignorance thought, OK we should be up and running in two weeks’ time.’ This was not so, that’s why it’s significant to me that we are still here today even if it’s two months later. Of course everything did not go how I want, but I had a pretty clear vision as to where I wanted to go and when I wanted to get there,” she said.
In 2017, Bowman retired as headmistress of Girls’ High School in St. Vincent. She had also taught at St. Vincent Grammar School, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, St. Vincent Teachers’ College, and Trinity School of Medical Sciences.
The ambassador outlined that before the end of 2019, one of the first things on her agenda is to establish a link between the embassy and all the Vincentian students studying in Taiwan.
“We have a Canadian-Taiwanese secretary who has worked in the Embassy [of the Marshall Islands] for a number of years. I think her experience is invaluable and I’m working along with her immediately to create a database of all the students here. I want to know where the Vincentian students are, who they are,” Bowman said.
“I think the embassy has a responsibility to know that. I keep saying I want our little mantra to be that this is our home away from home and I want Vincentians and our students to be able to feel that way.”
The embassy will provide a number of services including dealing with passport, student and schooling issues as well as day to day operations.
Bowman said that along with all these, she is looking to establish a Vincentian presence in Asia.
“We are looking for trade and commerce and those different opportunities. With us being in Asia right now, we need to get into as many areas as we can.
“Different business people have been contacting us. We have a number of people lined up who want to liaise with us, so we are positive at the prospects of what is coming.”
As one of its first official collaborations with students in Taiwan, the embassy has planned a week of events from Oct. 20 to 27 to commemorate SVG’s 40th year of independence.
The activities will begin with a church service on Oct. 20 in Taipei. Also on that day, there will be a riverside picnic where attendees are encouraged to wear national colors.
On Oct. 23, an exhibition displaying ‘all things Vincy’ will be held at the National Taiwan Normal University. On Oct. 26, there will be a “Hairouna countdown” from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. An official reception will be held at the embassy hall on Oct. 27 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.