Many people are interested in foreign affairs, but don't know how they can be involved. You don't have to be a diplomat to get started. Here are ten ways you, as a U.S. citizen, can engage on international issues.
1. Obtain a passport -- and travel. Traveling overseas offers you new perspectives on the world. Before you go, apply for a passport and download the free "Smart Traveler" App for iPhones and Android.
2. Study abroad. The U.S. Department of State offers programs for U.S. citizens wishing to go abroad for cultural, educational, and professional exchange. Go to exchanges.state.gov to find a program that could be the right fit for you.
3. Host an international student, scholar, or professional. There are a wide variety of hosting opportunities, from inviting an international visitor to your home for a meal, to providing a place to stay during a week-long training program to a semester or academic year.
4. Export. Whether you are looking to begin or expand your business by exporting, you can find information online to assist you, or participate in the State Department's Direct Line Program -- a unique opportunity for American businesses to speak directly via teleconference with U.S. Ambassadors overseas.
5. End hunger. Almost one billion people -- more than one seventh of the world -- suffer from chronic hunger, while more than 3.5 million children die each year from undernutrition. Are you a business with products, services, or resources to help end global hunger? Visit feedthefuture.gov to find out how you might be able to partner with the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
6. Stop wildlife crime. Join us in the fight to save our planet’s wildlife, threatened by poachers and criminal networks. Take the online pledge to learn more about wildlife trafficking, inform others, and commit to become a more responsible consumer.
7. Fight modern slavery. As many as 27 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, or modern slavery. Here's a list of ways you can help fight this terrible scourge, in your community and around the world.
8. Partner with State. The U.S. Department of State has entered a new era of collaboration and partnership with non-government actors. Find out how your organization can partner with the State Department to promote economic growth and opportunity and invest in the well-being of people around the world.
9. Invest in women and girls worldwide. Contribute to the Secretary’s International Fund for Women and Girls, which is a means to help combat violence, improve education and health, and create economic and political opportunities for women worldwide. (There are other opportunities to get involved, too. TechWomen matches mentors with emerging female technologies in the Middle East and North Africa; apply to be a mentor by June 1, 2013.)
10. Follow us on social media -- and engage! More than 25 million around the world follow the U.S. Department of State and U.S. diplomatic missions on social media. From New Mexico to Massachusetts, India to South Korea, people are contributing their ideas to a global online conversation -- join the discussion!
About the Author: Victoria Esser serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.