Saturday, September 15, 2012

Yeah, but what to you DO?

Posted in Foreign Service Life at 11:14 am by graceandpoise

I get that question a lot.  Like a last weekend, when I met a bunch of my husband’s high-school friends.  “Oh, so you work in embassies?  But what do you DO?”  Particularly in the case of the Foreign Service – and particularly after one has a couple of different assignments under one’s belt – that question is extraordinarily difficult to answer.

Thus, I was happy to see an article in Foreign Policy that attempts to explain it.  The only way to do so is by pulling out a series of examples, as the duties of a Foreign Service Officer can range so widely.  Maybe the book Mr. Kralev is writing will answer the question yet more fully, but in the meantime, see the link above to the article (page 3 will be particularly helpful for those of you wanting to know just what it is we do), and a brief quote below.

“How can teaching effective governance, participating in nuclear negotiations, organizing a cultural event, reforming a child-adoption system, selling weapons, recovering from a natural disaster, visiting prisoners, and fixing public relations problems be part of the same profession?

Welcome to the U.S. Foreign Service.”

To those politicians and other detractors who like to spread falsehoods about the Foreign Service:  please note that attending fancy parties wearing sequined cocktail dresses is not on the above list, and hasn’t been for a long time.

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