About the Author: Ruth Bennett serves as an Editor and Community Manager at DipNote.
As the new year began, DipNote asked several different offices to review for our readers what they thought were the highlights of 2010 and what their plans were for 2011. The result was a number of thoughtful and engaging posts, so when DipNote managing editor Luke Forgerson suggested we apply the concept to our own office, and cap off these "year in review" blog posts with an entry about our own top ten personal favorite blog posts from 2010, I thought "why not?" To be honest, I also thought "how easy!" since I was pretty sure I could easily rattle off a quick list of my favorites without a second thought.
And indeed, I could. Except there were many more than ten. And, as I read back over the past year's blog, that list grew...and grew. Here, then, in no particular order, are some of my favorite DipNote stories from 2010:
• What I Saw in Haiti, February 4
These two entries filter a large-scale catastrophe through a very personal lens. I chose them because they don't flinch from the chaotic reality and emotional challenges of disaster response, and because they provide the kind of window into a situation that few news stories can. (If reading Paul Mayer's affecting essay "What I Saw in Haiti" makes you want to help, by the way, click here.)
In nine short paragraphs, author Anna Whittington takes you with her to Kazakhstan, sketches the complexities of fighting human trafficking in this Central Asian nation, and then places all of it within the global context. I included this one for its deft integration of all these different levels -- and also because this is an issue that needs to be highlighted wherever possible. (For comprehensive information and resources about trafficking in persons, click here.)
• A Moment of Acceptance, May 4
DipNote is global, and what appears on it is often sweeping in scope: a plan; a program; an event of transnational significance. But the State Department's work is carried out by individuals, and those individuals' days are often made up of the kind of small and quiet achievements Kathy Gunderman describes -- important victories that are no less sweet for their scale.
• Three Games in Three Days, June 15
I'm not even a sports fan, but author Sharon Hudson-Dean made me wish I'd attended the World Cup -- and then described it so that I felt like I had. (To re-live some of the fun, click here.)
• Supporting American Jobs, September 6
• Twenty-Eight Yeses, April 20
• International Scams: Avoid Being Fooled, April 1
Three substantive entries, each notable in its own way: I chose "Supporting American Jobs," because I think it's among the best examples on DipNote of a policy piece that provides both depth and clarity. Similarly for "Twenty-Eight Yeses": anyone who can delve into the most granular pre-Summit language negotiations, explain why it matters, and make me want to read more is pretty much assured of my vote. I chose "International Scams" both because it addresses a real need -- it's a topic that comes up regularly on our Facebook page as well as in the American Citizen Services sections of U.S. embassies worldwide -- and also because of the wealth of information it provides. Anyone with an internet connection is at risk from these scams, so, if you missed it, a few minutes spent reading Michelle Bernier-Toth's article is a smart investment in learning how to protect yourself.
I'll admit, I'm playing a little fast and loose with the "favorite ten" concept with this one. The blog written by the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand first came to my attention with his account of the Christchurch earthquake, in "Kia Kaha, Canterbury," on September 10th. I became a regular reader, and a fan. As a DipNote editor, I have mixed feelings about directing our readers to a different blog, but this informal, highly descriptive, and engrossing account of Ambassador Huebner's experiences -- which also happens to feature some terrific photos -- really shouldn't be missed. Read him -- and DipNote.
I'm citing these as a pair, so I'm sure that doesn't violate the the "favorite ten" rule... I really like DipNote's holiday entries. The July 4th series, in particular, is a great way to view a kaleidoscopic assortment of customs and cultures all lending their interpretations to a single shared day. This year, I was struck by the juxtaposition of the Crackerjacks, trash talk, and rowdy cheers of the Zambian frolic-and-sports-melee with the solemn tension of the moment in Colombia's July 4th in which two Americans, former FARC hostages, got their first look in two years at the helicopter that rescued them. Each of these blog posts is compelling on its own. Considered together, they ought to be contradictory. To my mind, they aren't: they show the breadth and diversity of American diplomacy being carried out around the world.
...And that's my list of favorite eleven --er, ten -- entries from 2010. So, how about it, DipNote readers: which ones -- whether in this collection or not -- were yours?