I was excited to participate in the Hometown Diplomat program because I enjoy outreach programs, am enthusiastic about the State Department, and wanted to make others, especially the younger generation, more aware of the work the State Department does, as well as make sure they are aware of the possibility of a career of service with the Department.
Having received a scholarship from the Gettysburg Lions Club upon graduation from high school in 1999, I was eager to come back and update them on what I have done since. In 2004, I spoke at the same civic organization while I was a Military Intelligence Officer at the Pentagon, and was thrilled to see some of the same folks!
Approximately 30 Lions Club members were in attendance. I gave a short presentation and left most of the time for questions. Questions ranged from cultural (Do I have to cover up while in Kuwait? Am I treated differently because I am female?), to more policy-related questions (Has the recent change in administration changed your day-to-day job? What is the media environment/freedom of the press in Kuwait like?).
The evening was definitely a success and was even more special because this year’s scholarship recipient – a senior in high school – was present to receive his award. After my talk, he approached me and wanted more information about the State Department. So, the talk not only educated civic-minded citizens of Gettysburg about the State Department, it also helped make a bright and ambitious young man interested in foreign affairs aware of this career track. I think his exact words were, “How can I do what you are doing? Where can I sign up?” I gave him the State Department website, as well as my contact information so I could follow-up and answer any questions he had about long-term career opportunities as well as perhaps an internship during his college years.