British Consul General Karen Bell spoke to more than 60 government students Oct. 5 at an event hosted by the History, Humanities and Government department. She emphasized international partnerships and connections, one of ORU’s globalization goals.
“My role is essentially to look after the UK’s interests in the states in which we are represented,” Bell said. “We’re trying to find business and investment partners. There’s always two sides to every partnership. The Brits are on one side and Americans are on the other. I also have a huge responsibility to the British citizens who live in this part of the United States.”
The consulate, located in Houston, provides resources for British nationals to obtain or renew important documents such as passports or marriage licenses. The office also arranges reservations and assists in planning visits for other British dignitaries.
“Consuls general sometimes feels like you’re running a travel agency,” Bell said. “We can spend as much time worrying about the hotel where the secretary is going to stay, whether or not there is going to be Wi-Fi that will enable his aides to tweet his every move, as well as making sure he goes into his debriefing prepared with the topics he is going to address.”
Bell is an advocate of improving global partnerships by bringing more diversity in governmental bodies through internships and connections made through visits like this one.
“It’s not about political correctness,” Bell said. “As you all know, it’s diversity that brings new ideas and fresh perspectives, which helps governments arrive at new, robust policies.”
Consul General Bell has worked her way up the diplomatic service ladder since she was 17 years old and has since traveled the world for the consulate.
“You need to have a sense of adventure. You need to spend as much time as you can getting out and talking to people and really soaking up the environment of the country in which you’re posted,” Bell said. “The temptation all too often is to sit in our office rather than going out and about and talking to people you don’t know and really embracing the adventure. That’s how you make a difference. It’s not like any other government job. It’s much better than that.”
The History, Humanities and Government Department works with Oklahoma’s Honorary Consul Rodger Randle, University of Oklahoma professor and founder of Center for Studies in Democracy and Culture.
“[I got connected to ORU] through our wonderful Honorary Consul Professor Rodger Randle,” Bell said. “He does an amazing job for us. He looks after our interests here when I can’t be. It’s quite difficult for me to be everywhere in my post at a time. We’re very fortunate. He has been looking after UK interests in this part of the world since 2002.”
Sonny Branham, ORU assistant government professor, thought Bell’s visit was beneficial for the students.
“This is an excellent opportunity for our students to meet the British consul general of this area,” Branham said. “Any time we can show our students the potential they have and allow them to interact with people who are the movers and the shakers, the people who are making decisions that affect the United States and our allies, we try to.”
This visit came just in time for the ORU Global Homecoming Celebration this week.
“Each time we have an event like this, we always stress how cosmopolitan ORU is, particularly with the number of students we have from different countries,” Branham said. “With our globalization effort, we are looking to expand our presence overseas. Now, someone from Great Britain will know about Oral Roberts University, has visited here and could speak on our behalf if we needed a connection.”