Volunteers Play Key Role in Assisting Americans Abroad

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 29, 2009
Woman Makes Telephone Call

About the Authors: Gina El Koury and Liza Petrush are consular officers in the Special Consular Services unit at the U.S. Embassy in London..

An embassy’s consular wardens play an integral role in assisting American citizens living abroad. Each U.S. post abroad has a network of volunteers in the community who live, work, study, or socialize with large groups of Americans. These volunteers, called “wardens” – aptly named after WWII air raid wardens – help us spread messages to the American community overseas. Because of their close ties to the U.S. expat community, wardens are often the fastest and most effective route to distributing information to Americans.

In early February 2009, Embassy London hosted 48 of our approximately 150 wardens for our first annual Warden Conference. This conference introduced the wardens to their Embassy counterparts, gave them time to network and exchange ideas, and provided them with training on how they would work with the Embassy to assist Americans affected by a crisis in the United Kingdom. Watch our video to hear their comments on being a warden.

In some places, such as London, the Department communicates with our wardens via email. In others, U.S. embassies and consulates use text messaging systems to alert wardens that information is available that they need to disseminate to the Americans in their care. In some countries, we might rely on radios or satellite telephones to stay in touch with wardens in more distant locations without the infrastructure to support email or text message communications.

In the United Kingdom, we often rely on our wardens to disseminate Embassy information regarding critical events with security and safety implications for the American community. In other locations, the warden network might be activated to pass Americans emergency messages regarding evacuation meeting points or areas of conflict to avoid.

Warden messages are only one part of the State Department’s Consular Information Program, which is designed to provide Americans with the background they need to make informed decisions about traveling abroad. More information about the Consular Information Program, as well as the services U.S. embassies and consulates can provide to Americans overseas, is available on the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs travel information website.



New Mexico, USA
March 29, 2009

Eloise in New Mexico writes:

Wonderful idea to have warden support- not quite the same, but yesterday I became an honorary commander at Kirtland Air Force Base. In our current world we need to build buddy, mentor and support systems to replace those that are no longer in place.

Alabama, USA
March 29, 2009

Robert in Alabama writes:

My wife and I have lived and worked overseas for over 20 years. She was in the Hospitality Industry. Her last position was to serve as the General Manager of the American Club in China, Taipei, Taiwan. She also has lived and worked in Cairo, Senegal, Morocco, Manila.

I had a number of overseas assignments as a consultant in product development, quality control, social responsibility studies and International Joint Venture management. I have worked in Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Antigua.

We are now retired. We are willing to travel and even live in other areas for short periods.

What are the opportunities for folks like us?

District Of Columbia, USA
March 29, 2009

Jamie in Washington, DC writes:

The "warden" program seems like good way to have Americans abroad connect and receive helpful information. Specifically, I can truly appreciate the way that technology has allowed for more effective communication to Americans living overseas. This post explains how new forms of technology have increased the efficiency of the transfer of information. For example, the use of email and text messages has made it so that Americans aboard can receive information quickly. It seems to me that with help from the warden program, Americans that are living in a country abroad have the ability to feel as connected and as safe as living in their own country. As the warden program continues, it will hopefully allow for a safe and successful time for American's to have when they are abroad. The volunteer wardens clearly play a necessary role for American citizens in countries overseas.

Connecticut, USA
March 30, 2009

Terry in Connecticut writes:

I am looking forward to President Obama's trip to Europe this week. Is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton going with him?

April 4, 2009

Nditah in Nigeria writes:

Is life not only worth living when we live for those ideals that gives fulillment to our hearts. The path of love, unselfishness, selflessness and sacrifice has proven through out all the age to be the loudest way to propergate our believe.

john m.
South Africa
April 7, 2009

John M. in South Africa writes:

Currently I live in the township of Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, South Africa. I also travel in remote areas of South Africa, CongoDRC, Zambia, etc...several projects that I have involvement with is within the small business sector and water purifaction (NGO). My wife is Xhosa so this allows me to gain entry into tribal areas within the Eastern Cape. If possible I would like to laison with other Americans within Africa to discuss current affairs, etc.

April 7, 2009

Nasser in Algeria writes:

It is a very good iniative. I would be more than happy to help my consulate, my embassy and my fellow citizens. I am ready and willing to participate. Should you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact me. Yours, Nasser PhD.

United States
April 7, 2009

Jose in U.S.A. writes:

I'm retired from the Department of Justice. How can I volunteer.


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