Bureau of Pubic Affairs
Office of Public Liaison
S. Tovan McDaniel
Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer
U.S. Embassy New Delhi
Hometown Diplomat S. Tovan McDaniel shows photographs and other artifacts from India to local St. Louis reporter Linda Briggs-Harty from the Kirkwood-Webster Times.
Hometown Diplomat Tovan McDaniel (right) poses with St. Louis Mayor, Francis Slay at the mayor's office at City Hall. [Photo courtesy Mr. McDaniel]
Q: Why did you decide to participate in the Hometown Diplomats Program?
During my tour in India, I worked in Public Affairs and I learned the importance of public outreach and why we need to explain our policies and who we are. I thought that the Hometown Diplomats Program would provide an excellent opportunity to speak to domestic audiences. I think that what we do in the State Department is not always understood in the United States.
Q: Do any stories from your experience as a Hometown Diplomat stand out?
I received a large number of positive reactions to the newspaper article from the community, and people would say "Oh, I didn't even know that the government had programs like that overseas." I even received calls from people interested in joining the Foreign Service. The article focused on my travels, my family's diverse experience, and helped to increase awareness of what a Foreign Service officer does within my community.
Q: How do you think this program furthers the mission of the State Department?
Public outreach is very important, and if people can see someone they know well and someone they grew up with engaged in foreign policy, they are more likely to listen. The Hometown Diplomats Program demystifies the foreign policy process and personalizes it, increasing the level of public understanding. It helps build a constituency, and we need that kind of support, in the same way that our troops do. People should understand what we do.
Q: How did your hometown prepare you to work with the State Department?
Saint Louis, Missouri, is right in the middle of the country, but it is by no means isolated from international affairs. I think that a key to working at the State Department is being able to assimilate overseas in a variety of settings; Saint Louis provided me with those opportunities early on. It's also a very patriotic city, where people are encouraged to enter into public service.
S. Tovan McDaniel served as Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. His current posting is at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia. Mr. McDaniel is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Hindi. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. McDaniel has lived in India, Spain and Costa Rica, and has traveled extensively throughout Asia, Latin America and Europe.
Released on September 30, 2006