Over the last three years, as I did my monthly interviews with so many diplomatic spouses from all over the world, I discovered great stories of life, interesting and accomplished people, who not only proved my theory that a brilliant career can nicely go hand in hand with the ‘diplomatic spouse’ job, but, most of the time, they even exceeded my expectations.
Dr. Yazid Manap is the perfect example of that.
He is a Mechanical Engineer and a Food Technologist by qualification and a Researcher/Academician by profession. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA and the University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. He was for many years a professor at the University Putra Malaysia (UPM), the Dean of the Faculty of Food Science and Biotechnology (UPM) and Director of the Halal Research Institute. He recently retired (in 2021) but he is still very active and involved. ‘I am in the process of completing an academic book in my field’, he says.
Life took him to different corners of the earth, from Malaysia to the USA, UK, Switzerland and now the Netherlands, where he is currently residing since August 2021 with his wife, the Malaysian ambassador to the Dutch kingdom.
He tells me: ‘I enjoyed life in all the places where we lived. Being in the diplomatic world is an enjoyable and fruitful experience. Plus that I now have plenty of time to read and write’.
He also speaks about his other passion ‘… I love gardening. Sometime in the future, I’d love to be a farmer, being closer to the land, closer to the environment, specifically. I’d like to be ‘a grower’, as they call it here, in the Netherlands’.
But the way that I see it, he is already a ‘grower’… he grew a beautiful family with 6 children and 3 grandchildren, a family that he is most proud of.
He fully appreciates the life he is living, takes his time to discover the new country of residence, the Netherlands. He likes to meet new people and to make new friends. ‘I love being in different places and cultures’, he says. ‘We have a great opportunity to be very close to the culture and people of the country where we are posted’. He likes to try new foods and to play golf, whenever he has the time.
He admits that diplomatic life can sometimes be lonely and he also confesses that ‘the most difficult part is at the beginning of each diplomatic posting’. I totally agree, I am now at the beginning of our diplomatic mission in Belgium and, as much I love to discover Brussels, I still miss the familiarity of my previous residence. It always takes time, patience and perseverance and, as Dr Manap says, ‘it doesn’t help being on introvert’. You have to learn to reach out to people, to be open and friendly.
He also adds that ‘people sometimes have misconceptions about our proper role or function within the diplomatic world’. True!
He would advise younger spouses, at the beginning of this ‘diplomatic road’ to be supportive, to take care and pursue their own professional life and career, but ‘always make the time to be with the spouse’. I have often said that the full and constant family support is critical to any successful diplomatic career. At the end of the day, family is the most important. And what makes the difference in life is also a great attitude towards it…
As his life motto says, ‘always be happy and thankful!’
About the author:
She speaks Romanian, English, French, German and Italian, gives lectures on intercultural communication and is an active NGO volunteer.