While driving in rural Togo during a holiday weekend, Hainer Sibrian (B.A. ’13) noticed a motorcyclist riding erratically in the middle of the highway. Unable to swerve in time, Hainer ended up in a head-on collision that totaled his pickup truck.
Sibrian escaped the incident unscathed, but the motorcyclist wasn’t as lucky. As Sibrian got out of his vehicle to render aid, he was shocked to see one of the motorcyclist’s legs was severed.
“I believe I had blacked out,” Sibrian said. “But then I finally snapped out of it and realized this was real.”
As a U.S. diplomat, Sibrian is trained to give first aid and quickly applied a tourniquet to the man’s leg, drove him to the hospital and even paid for the man’s medical bill to ensure he would get good care.
Sibrian stayed with the man through the night, but months later he still felt compelled to do more.
Eventually, Sibrian initiated an embassy-wide effort to secure a $1 million grant to the Togolese Federation of Disabled Persons, an organization that fights for the rights people with disabilities in the West African country, including support for vocational training and career opportunities.
“I take pride in being an advocate for people who, for a lack of better words, didn’t get the best shake in life,” Sibrian said. “This was something I was really proud of. This effort by the U.S. Embassy could help ensure people living with handicaps have fuller lives.”
Sibrian’s journey to becoming a U.S. diplomat started when, as a senior studying political science at Georgia State, he received the Boren Scholarship to study a foreign language abroad. He used the scholarship funds to study Arabic in Cairo, Egypt, in 2012. Sibrian described the experience as “career defining” and said it inspired him to pursue international diplomacy.
“Being at Georgia State was the first time I was seriously involved in international politics,” Sibrian said.
Sibrian has worked with the U.S. Foreign Service for three years. In Togo, he worked with the government’s political military portfolio. He has also been stationed in Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
Now, Sibrian is preparing to transfer to Spain to begin a new assignment as a consular officer in Madrid. Sibrian will process visas and interview people who want to come to the United States to live.
Eventually, Sibrian hopes to take on a role involving government-to-government negotiation.
As a first-generation American born to Latin American immigrant parents, Sibrian said his experiences at Georgia State helped prepare him for his international career.
“I’m thankful for the Georgia State student body because it is so diverse,” Sibrian said. “At Georgia State you have students from all over the world coming together. I got a much more personal perspective about international affairs.”
Photo courtesy of Hainer Sibrian.