Talking the Walk Once Again: Sharing Diplomacy With My Hometown

Posted by Aaron Snipe
September 29, 2009
Students Walk Past Lockers in High School Hallway

About the Author: Aaron Snipe is a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State. He recently participated in the Hometown Diplomat Program.

Explaining our foreign policy to audiences abroad is one of the many tasks faced by U.S. diplomats serving overseas. During my previous assignment on a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Iraq, my colleagues and I often explained to the good people of Muthanna Province how the State Department partners with Iraqis to build greater stability and prosperity.

Now that I am home from Iraq, I recently had an opportunity to participate in one of the State Department's lesser known but important public outreach initiatives: the Hometown Diplomat Program. Each year, the program asks recently returned Foreign Service Officers to volunteer their time to explain the work of diplomacy abroad with hometown audiences. While an understanding of the Department’s work abroad is ubiquitous in places like Washington, this is not necessarily the case across America. Members of the State Department's diplomatic corps hail from every corner of the U.S. (all fifty states, in fact), and through the years, diplomats from across America have returned home to talk to universities, high schools, and civic organizations about the work of the State Department. For me, combining a little of mom's home cooking (nothing in the base chow-hall in Iraq compares to my mother's famous spaghetti sauce) with a dash of diplomacy was the perfect recipe for some old fashioned outreach in Red Sox country.

Last week, I had the honor of returning to Arlington High School - my alma mater - in Arlington, Massachusetts, to spend the day with some of the school's best and brightest students. The kids were engaging, knowledgeable, and eager to learn more about the work of diplomats abroad. Strolling down the very same halls I walked almost 20 years ago, I was cornered by a student who heard a diplomat was coming to speak.

A bit hesitant at first, he said, "I'm Frank. You're from the State Department, right?""Yes," I responded.

He then told me that he was really interested in a career with the Foreign Service. A high school kid? Interested in becoming a diplomat someday? Wow. At his age, I think my greatest interests were being on time for Mr. Obelsky’s history class and never missing lunch. Frank's curiosity really inspired me. It made me proud that the kids from my alma mater were already thinking globally. While it might be too early to call it, I think I met a few future diplomats at Arlington High last week. World peace, here they come!

But, I suppose we should let them finish their book reports due next week first.

Comments

Comments

Ronnie
|
Oregon, USA
September 30, 2009

Ronnie in Oregon writes:

just good evening to all and Semper Fi

Pauline
|
Massachusetts, USA
September 30, 2009

Pauline in Massachusetts writes:

I am so proud of Aaron for what he has done in Iraq. I knew before he was Mr. A.H.S. and a true diplomat at the high school, that he would be a part of the global community. He is someone who will bring peace in this world.

Pedro
|
Canada
September 30, 2009

Pedro in Canada writes:

I think it is always really great when American officials can spend a lot of time with young boys and girls. Especially when you get a chance to show what "real" Americans are like... You can work to show everything about yourself and your country, and make a deep impression on people who might just know about America from hippety-hop music. Good work, Mr. Snipe.

Lisa B.
|
Montana, USA
September 30, 2009

Lisa B. in Montana writes:

Really good to see that we will nad might be able to make some changes, hopa and god bless USA.

Will
|
Iraq
October 1, 2009

Will in Iraq writes:

Well done, Aaron. We are happy to see you are still carrying the banner.

M.B.

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