2012 Rangel Fellow Abdel Perera hails from the vibrant and diverse city of Miami, Florida. Migrating from Cuba as a child, Abdel learned at an earlier age about the challenges of adjusting to a new culture. He grew up grateful to be an American and with a desire to serve the nation. His interest in the Foreign Service was ignited by the stories of a State Department Diplomat in Residence teaching at his college, Florida International University. He notes that, “Beyond the interesting class lectures, guest speakers from the diplomatic corps, and in-field anecdotes from our professor, what attracted me most about a career in the Foreign Service was an opportunity to serve overseas, to work for U.S. interests, and to work in a dynamic world where there is never a boring day!”
Abdel prepared for his career through his studies of U.S. foreign policy, Latin American issues, and human rights at Florida International University. He traveled to Thailand to work at an orphanage and in disadvantaged communities; worked with an NGO in Honduras to build a classroom in an underprivileged community; and did internships in U.S. Embassy Montevideo, U.S. Embassy Lima and the State Department Office of Conflict Prevention. The outstanding experiences he had in his State Department internships confirmed his commitment to a Foreign Service career.
Abdel joined the Rangel Program in 2012 as a pathway to the Foreign Service. Through the program, he earned a Master’s Degree from American University School of International Service in 2014; served as an intern with Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, then member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and did an internship in the Political/Economic Section in Mumbai, India. Asked about his most memorable moment, he cited his work supporting the visit of Vice President Biden to India for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. Abdel assisted in organizing a business round table, participated in the logistics for the visit, and even met the Vice President. “Shaking the hand of the Vice President was surreal, and as an intern I confess I was star-struck. Being part of the team that welcomed the V.P. to Mumbai was a memorable experience.”
Now a Foreign Service Officer serving in Buenos Aires, Abdel remains close to the 2012 Rangel Fellows and the entire program. He notes, “The Rangel Program is family, and that is what I value most about my experience with the fellowship. I have made lifelong friends, mentors and colleagues, whom I can call upon for advice and grow together as professionals. I value that I can serve as a beacon of hope for other immigrants who need that extra push to join a dynamic career. The Rangel Program changed my life.”
Abdel currently lives in Buenos Aires with his wife Liliana. He is a Consular Officer in the Foreign Service and is passionate about helping U.S. citizens overseas, facilitating international travel and business, and protecting U.S. borders. He is excited by the Foreign Service’s emphasis on career-long learning and the opportunity to meet new people, study new languages, and immerse himself in diverse cultures. While he is open to worldwide service, he hopes to serve extensively in Latin America where he wants to foster strong relations between the United States and nations in the hemisphere and work to build “stronger civil societies, businesses, and institutions.”