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Diana Harbison serves as USTDA Director for Program Evaluations.
By: 
Diana Harbison | USTDA Director for Program Evaluations

It was late summer in Vietnam, and a last-minute schedule change meant I was in a hurry to get from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City—leaving me no choice but to purchase a ticket at the airport.  Hustling into the crowded Hanoi airport, I found the airline desk, identified a flight and presented my passport to the friendly airline attendant—who promptly wait-listed me by writing my name in a simple, lined composition notebook.

After a few hours, I decided to check my status and was greeted by the same attendant, who said he needed to put my name on the wait-list.  Frustrated, I explained that I had already done that; but he simply grinned, pointed to his notebook and then flipped to a fresh page with a new flight number written at the top.

Moments like these truly demonstrate to me the impact that USTDA’s work can have.  Just hours before arriving at the airport, I had met with representatives from the same airline who were eager to learn how USTDA’s technical assistance might help them modernize their operations, including plans to implement a new e-ticketing system.  Standing at that ticket counter, I realized that they were actually asking USTDA to help replace the antiquated notebook system.

And that’s exactly what we did.  Today, you can take full advantage of the airline’s e-ticketing systems, in part because a USTDA-supported project helped U.S. industry experts identify and address the airline’s needs.

This is just one example of USTDA’s experience in the aviation sector, which is clear when you look at our results.  USTDA’s aviation projects have helped over 300 U.S. companies secure sales contracts that not only helped modernize the infrastructure in the countries where we work, but that also supported thousands of high-paying U.S. jobs.  The figures you’ve seen in our social media feeds this month provide an impressive overview of USTDA’s impact on U.S. companies, U.S. jobs and our foreign partners’ development outcomes.

But our impact isn’t just about the numbers—it’s about seeing, firsthand, the expertise and solutions that American industry can bring to our partners around the world.  It’s about being able to walk through a U.S.-manufactured passenger jet bridge at Panama’s Tocumen airport.  It’s about knowing that friends and co-workers fly safely in Azerbaijan and India.  And it’s about hearing South African aviation officials publicly thank USTDA for highlighting career opportunities they didn’t know were available.  I’m proud of the work our Agency does to help U.S. exports take flight, and I will continue to enjoy seeing the many ways we have an impact around the world.