Jane J. Chrongchit
San Diego, CA
California: On June 22, 2009, I had the opportunity to participate in the State Department’s Hometown Diplomat program. With the help and organization of the Bureau of Public Affairs, I was invited to an event hosted by the Citizens Diplomacy Council of San Diego. At this function I spoke to a group of young professionals about Foreign Service careers and addressed participants from the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) from 10 different countries in Africa.
The evening began with introductions of the 11 members of the African Delegation. The focus of their visit to the United States was to meet with local leaders about the implications of conflict resolution and address methods for resolving political, ethnic, economic and other types of disputes. Other attendees at the event included young professionals interested in international careers, as well as staff members of the Citizens Diplomacy Council.
After presenting the African Delegation, the Director of Programs, Enrique Meza, introduced me to the group and asked me to speak about the International Visitor Leadership Program and the process of becoming a Foreign Service Officer (FSO). I thanked the African Delegation for their attendance and explained the role of overseas Foreign Service Officers in the IVLP process. I spoke of the importance of diplomacy reaching local communities within the United States and the value of the knowledge exchanged between the African Delegation and non-governmental organizations, media, and local government officials in San Diego. I explained that FSOs posted overseas have the responsibility of nominating candidates to participate in the IVLP. For the young professionals, I spoke of my own career path and steps I took to become an FSO. I explained the varieties of jobs and roles FSOs are asked to perform abroad and domestically. The entire speech was translated simultaneously into French by interpreters who were traveling with the African Delegation.
After the talk, a lively discussion took place, and many of the young professionals asked specific questions on how to take the Foreign Service Exam, the various career tracks available in the State Department, and the type of resources offered to the public to start preparing for the Foreign Service selection process. The conversation also turned to the perception that the African Delegation had of the United States during their visit to San Diego. The young professionals and the African Delegation discussed racial issues, poverty, the involvement of non-governmental organizations in various social issues such as homelessness, and immigration within the United States.
My contact information was given to participants of the events who were interested in receiving more information about a career in the State Department. The African Delegation also exchanged contact information with me and gave me more information about the work that they do in their respective countries.
The event was a great success and I look forward to participating again in the near future. I thank the Bureau of Public Affairs for preparing me for this function and I hope to be of assistance again.