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Section Table of Contents

  • A Foreign Policy for the American People
  • Number of Visa Crime Investigations Opened Globally
  • Using Diplomacy to Make Americans’ Lives Better and Safer: Pittsburgh Visit Summary
  • The National Museum of American Diplomacy: A Partnership for the American People
  • Diplomacy 101: The Building Blocks of the State Department
  • Diplomacy Simulation Program
  • Kate Koob: A Diplomat’s Courage and Composure
  • Diplomacy is Our Mission: Clearing the Air
  • The Signature Segment of the Berlin Wall
  • Diplomacy is Our Mission: Combating Illegal Drug Trafficking
  • The Fall of Saigon: The Bravery of American Diplomats and Refugees
  • Hometown Diplomats Connect with the American People: Meet Kelley Whitson
  • Meet Hometown Diplomat Peter Winter
  • Meet Hometown Diplomat Eduardo Belalcazar
  • U.S. Secretaries of State Past and Present
  • Websites of Interest

In Focus icon.

A Foreign Policy for the American People

Our AFR theme, Foreign Policy for the American People, is drawn from Secretary Blinken’s March 3, 2021, policy priorities speech. This first “In Focus” item contains excerpts from the address and provides context for subsequent features, which highlight how the work of dedicated State professionals – past and present – serve the interests of their fellow citizens.

My fellow Americans, five weeks ago I was sworn in as your Secretary of State…When President Biden asked me to serve, he made sure that I understood that my job is to deliver for you – to make your lives more secure, create opportunity for you and your families, and tackle the global crises that are increasingly shaping your futures.

I take this responsibility very seriously. And an important part of the job is speaking to you about what we’re doing and why….in everything we do, we’ll look not only to make progress on short-term problems, but also to address their root causes and lay the groundwork for our long-term strength. As the President says, to not only build back, but build back better.

So here’s our plan.

First, we will stop COVID-19 and strengthen global health security. Second, we will turn around the economic crisis and build a more stable, inclusive global economy. Third, we will renew democracy. Fourth, we will work to create a humane and effective immigration system. Fifth, we will revitalize our ties with our allies and partners. Sixth, we will tackle the climate crisis and drive a green energy revolution. Seventh, we will secure our leadership in technology. And eighth, we will manage the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st Century: our relationship with China.

These priorities…are the most urgent, the ones on which we must make swift and sustained progress.

They’re also all simultaneously domestic and foreign issues. Our domestic renewal and our strength in the world are completely entwined. And how we work will reflect that reality…

The Biden administration’s foreign policy will reflect our values. We will stand firm behind our commitments to human rights, democracy, the rule of law…We will respect science and data, and we will fight misinformation and disinformation, because the truth is the cornerstone of our democracy…We’ll work with Congress whenever we can – on the take-off, not just the landing – because they represent the will of our people, and our foreign policy is stronger when the American people support it…We’ll build a national security workforce that reflects America in all its diversity, because we’re operating in a diverse world, and our diversity is a unique source of strength that few countries can match…We will bring nonpartisanship back to our foreign policy…

We will balance humility with confidence. I have always believed they should be the flip sides of America’s leadership coin. Humility because we aren’t perfect, we don’t have all the answers, and a lot of the world’s problems aren’t mainly about us, even as they affect us. But confidence because America at its best has a greater ability than any country on Earth to mobilize others for the common good and for the good of our people.

Above all, we’ll hold ourselves accountable to a single, overarching measure of success: Are we delivering results for you?

Are we making your lives more secure and creating opportunities for your families? Are we protecting the planet for your children and grandchildren? Are we honoring your values, and proving worthy of your trust?

It’s the honor of my life to serve as your Secretary of State. And I’m aware every day that we’re writing the next chapter of our history. It’s up to us whether the story of this time will be one of peace and prosperity, security, and equality; whether we will help more people in more places live in dignity and whether we will leave the United States stronger at home and in the world.

That’s our mission. That’s our opportunity. We will not squander it.

In Focus icon.

Number of Visa Crime Investigations Opened Globally

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is the security and law enforcement arm of the Department. Visa crimes are international offenses that may start overseas but can threaten public safety inside the United States if offenders are not interdicted with aggressive and coordinated law enforcement action. DS agents and analysts observe, detect, identify, and neutralize networks that exploit international travel vulnerabilities. In 2021, 804 new cases were opened. In addition, 726 cases were closed and DS made 31 arrests.

Bar chart wraps around an image of the globe summarizing the number of Visa crime investigations opened globally for fiscal years 2016 to 2021. FY 2016: 1,265. FY 2017: 933. FY 2018: 1,238. FY 2019: 1,042. FY 2020: 1,056. FY 2021: 804.

DS investigated a case involving fraudulent diplomatic and personal passport applications. On September 10, 2021, a federal jury found Laura Gallagher, a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State and Andrey Kalugin, her ex-husband and a Russian National, guilty of conspiring to commit naturalization fraud among related charges. The couple conspired together to obtain lawful permanent residence and U.S. citizenship for Kalugin through his marriage to Gallagher. More information on the case can be found at:

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

In Focus icon.

Using Diplomacy to Make Americans’ Lives Better and Safer: Pittsburgh Visit Summary

Secretary Blinken speaks to two people in a small group. Behind them, a white vehicle is on display. All are wearing masks.

Secretary Blinken, joined by Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, co-chaired the inaugural U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) Ministerial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 29-30. The Council’s agenda and the Secretary’s engagements in Pittsburgh highlighted the degree to which our domestic competitiveness, our national security, and a thriving middle class are mutually reinforcing.

In two days of discussions, the Council agreed on several significant steps, including to: develop and implement uses of artificial intelligence that drive innovation, that strengthen privacy, and respect democratic values and human rights; deepen cooperation on investment screening; work together on effective export control on the most sensitive technologies and products; strengthen cooperation on supply chain security and resilience; pursue common strategies to try to mitigate and respond to non-market distortive policies and practices; and to protect worker and labor rights, and combat forced and child labor. Through forums like the TTC, and engagement with critical allies, partners, and international institutions, American diplomacy can ensure the United States will remain the world’s innovation leader and standard setter and shape the digital revolution in a way that serves our people, protects our interests, and upholds our economy.

The Secretary’s meetings reinforced that message and allowed him to hear from Americans with a profound stake in the work of American diplomacy. The Secretary visited Argo AI, an autonomous driving technology. He also visited the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research to learn about the critical role of U.S. research and innovation, and international partnerships, in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen global health security. And he met with local labor leaders at International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #5 to hear their perspectives on issues such as trade, workforce development, green technology, and the digital economy.

Domestic engagements like Pittsburgh are key to enhancing and elevating partnerships with stakeholders throughout the American public, including civil society, the private sector, and state and local government. As Secretary Blinken has made clear, this is not a messaging exercise – it’s not about selling what we’re already doing. This is about the other side of communication: listening. It’s about understanding and identifying new ways that we can use diplomacy to make Americans’ lives better and safer.

In Focus icon.

The National Museum of American Diplomacy: A Partnership for the American People

The U.S. and Department of State flags fly in front of the National Museum of American Diplomacy building.

The National Museum of American Diplomacy tells the story of the history, practice, and challenges of American diplomacy. We invite the public to discover diplomacy and how it shapes their lives every day. Located in Washington, D.C. on the east side of the main State Department complex, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the museum’s independent Diplomacy Center Foundation. It is the only museum in the United States dedicated to the subject of diplomacy. No other museum brings diplomatic history to the forefront in its exhibits; no other institution is solely dedicated to collecting the artifacts of diplomacy. NMAD is uniquely poised to offer visitors an opportunity to “stand in the shoes’’ of professional diplomats and learn why diplomacy matters to every American. Through exhibits and programs on-site and online, visitors will be inspired to learn more about diplomacy, understand why diplomacy is important, and discover how diplomacy impacts their lives every day.

Personal narratives, unique artifacts, interactive experiences, and original videos will create surprising connections for the visitor. Changing exhibits on special topics of diplomacy will entice new and returning guests. Visitors will participate in diplomatic simulations where they can test their knowledge in a “real life” negotiating situation. They will see what it takes to become a Foreign Service officer and hear directly from the experts themselves. Visitors will explore the many ways the United States works with partner nations and international organizations to advance U.S. foreign policy, protect national security, and to promote shared goals for security, prosperity, democracy, and sustainable development. When completed, four exhibition halls comprising approximately 40,000 square feet, plus a 1,300-square-foot Mezzanine Gallery, will provide the complete visitor experience.

Diplomacy Is Our Mission exhibit at the National Museum of American Diplomacy consists of large partition displays and sitting benches in an open, well-lit room.

In Focus icon.

Diplomacy 101: The Building Blocks of the State Department

Assistant Public Affairs Officer Emily Green stands in the center of a group of local radio station staff members. Many of the local staff wear traditional print clothing and all smile for the camera. A white sign written in a foreign language is displayed on a railing in front of the group.

The National Museum of American Diplomacy seeks to help the American public gain a better understanding of the mission of the U.S. Department of State and the work the agency does to support the nation. The U.S. Department of State works to provide global stability and build thriving, stable economies that are vital to ensuring the security and welfare of all Americans. American diplomacy is founded on four key pillars:

  • Security: Establishing and maintain security within and among nations in order to respond to challenges and opportunities
  • Prosperity: Creating political, economic, and financial foundations that allow for investment, trade, and entrepreneurship
  • Democracy: Working to expand transparent, responsible, and responsive governments that support human rights and equality
  • Development: Collaborating with nations and communities to meet the needs of citizens through better access to health care, education, and economic opportunity.

The people who work to uphold the pillars of American diplomacy are called diplomats. U.S. diplomats’ primary mission is to carry out the foreign policy of the United States. They do this by using personal and professional relationships with officials and citizens of the host country to advocate for American interests, to work together on common causes, and to explain American society and values.

Diplomats work in a variety of locations, both domestic and international. An embassy is an international location where a diplomat may work. An embassy is the headquarters for U.S. Government representatives serving in a foreign country.

The primary purpose of an embassy is to assist American citizens who travel to or live in the host country, but it is also where U.S. Foreign Service Officers interview citizens of the host country who wish to travel to the United States. Embassy staff interact with representatives of the host government, local businesses, nongovernmental organizations, the media, and educational institutions, as well as private citizens to increase understanding of the United States and its policies and to collaborate on shared interests.

In Focus icon.

Diplomacy Simulation Program

Seven high school students lean in as they work together over a stack of papers.

The National Museum of American Diplomacy has developed educational programming to help students better understand diplomacy and the work of diplomats. These resources show students that many of the opportunities and challenges before the United States are global in source, scope, and solution.

NMAD’s signature educational resource is the Diplomacy Simulation Program. These simulations showcase the work of the U.S. Department of State and how diplomats engage in global issues. Aimed at high school and college students, the simulation connects with the world of American diplomacy, increasing an understanding of diplomacy and inspiring students to be involved in foreign affairs.

The program teaches students the practice of diplomacy as both a concept and a practical set of 21st Century skills. Stepping into the role of diplomats and working in teams, students build rapport with others, present clear arguments, negotiate, find common ground, and compromise to find a potential solution. Through negotiating, they implement the skills and tools of diplomacy used by professional diplomats that can also apply to everyday life. Facilitators guide the students through a hypothetical or historical global crisis, to introduce the ways that foreign policy is crafted and to the art and challenge of working with global partners to address important issues

All educational materials, including simulations and training guides, are available for free at

In Focus icon.

Kate Koob: A Diplomat’s Courage and Composure

Close-up photograph of the “Hostage Cross” necklace. The pendant is made from a silver medal in the shape of a cross. On the horizontal bar the words “Faith” and “Hope” are engraved. On the vertical bar the words “Love” and “Peace” are engraved.

Kathryn (Kate) Koob grew up on a 200-acre farm in Jubilee, Iowa, in a large and devoutly Christian family. Her interest in other cultures and travel motivated her to take the Foreign Service exam. In 1969, Koob moved to Washington, D.C. to begin her Foreign Service career with the U.S. Information Agency. In July 1979 she arrived in Iran – a country in the throes of a massive political and social revolution. Koob brought her faith with her into the Foreign Service and that shaped her approach to the experiences she encountered in Iran.

After being taken hostage on November 5, 1979, Koob was determined to stay mentally and physically strong. Along with a routine of regular calisthenics, she set up a regular contemplative routine to get her through each day that included purposeful prayer and meditation.

“The biggest fear was not knowing what the future held and not knowing what was happening to my colleagues.”

— Kate Koob

Koob and her colleagues’ ordeal as hostages would last for over a year. Following intensive negotiations, they were released on January 20, 1981. The plane carrying the hostages home made a refueling stop in Ireland. During the layover, Koob bought a wool beret and wore it during the many welcome-home events held for the returning hostages. She donated her beret to the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) collection in 2019. In addition to the beret, Koob gave NMAD a cross necklace, a replica of what became known as the “Hostage Cross.” A member of Koob’s former congregation in Alexandria, Virginia, designed the cross for the season of Lent and sent a copy to Kate and one of her colleagues during their captivity.

Following her captivity, Koob resumed her Foreign Service career. She retired in 1996. Koob regularly talks about her experience as a hostage, especially with school-aged children. “When they study history, they need to know it happened to real people.” Kate Koob’s story continues to be an excellent example of American diplomatic courage and composure.

Black and white vintage photograph of Kathryn Koob reaching out to shake hands with the receiving line after her arrival at Andrews Air Force Base. Personnel in uniform stand in the distance.

In Focus icon.

Diplomacy is Our Mission: Clearing the Air

The air quality monitoring team stands in front of (and some on top of) an air quality monitoring device and smile for the camera.

What could be more important than the air we breathe? Air pollution, composed of fine particulate matter, noxious gases, dust, and soot, is a serious issue around the world. It harms the environment and our health. Despite these threats, air pollution levels are not monitored in many countries. The State Department is helping to change that.

In 2008, State Department staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing launched a pilot program to monitor air quality prior to the Summer Olympics. Since then, the program has expanded to more than 65 locations around the world, ensuring that millions of people have access to reliable air quality data. After her arrival in Beijing in 2011, Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Officer Erica Keen Thomas expanded the State Department’s air quality monitoring program from Beijing to other major cities in China. Despite objections from Chinese authorities, U.S. posts continued to publish air quality data, which Chinese citizens shared on social media. These actions persuaded China to adopt more stringent monitoring standards and allow increased public access to air quality data.

The original air quality monitoring device installed on the roof of the U.S. Embassy. The instruments is made from gray metal with a tall tubular housing with a vented cap.

“I’ve never seen an initiative of the U.S. government have such an immediate, dramatic impact in a country.” — Gary Locke, U.S. Ambassador to China (2011–2014)

Thomas’s success convinced the State Department to expand the program globally, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. From its initial launch at Embassy Beijing in 2008, the Air Quality Monitoring Program – now called DOSAir – has grown into a global venture as part of the Department’s Greening Diplomacy Initiative.

In Focus icon.

The Signature Segment of the Berlin Wall

At the bottom of a staircase, a cement segment of the Berlin Wall is on display cordoned off by a rope. The masonry is covered with graffiti and signatures.
Alternate view of the cement segment of the Berlin Wall shows the back side of the Signature Segment adorned with dozens of illustrated figures and stylized text.

The Signature Segment of the Berlin Wall was installed at the National Museum of American Diplomacy in October 2015. The front side features signatures of public officials and Michael Fischer-Art’s prominent “Wir sind das Volk” (“We are the People”) banner. Department of State

From 1961 to 1989, the Berlin Wall served both as a physical barrier as well as a symbol of division and repression. Families, friends, and communities were cut off from each other. And those who dared to cross from communist East Berlin to democratic West Berlin risked their lives. By the late 1980s, however, the communist hold over Eastern Europe was slipping, and residents of East Berlin, yearning for freedom, began to demonstrate for their rights. On the night of November 9, 1989, some courageous ones breached the wall. Thousands followed over the next two days, and international media captured unforgettable images of them crossing peacefully into West Berlin. For many, those images mark the end of the Cold War and the victory of democracy over communism.

Today, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) is home to the “Signature Segment” of the Berlin Wall. This 13-foot high, nearly three-ton piece of the wall has been signed by 27 leaders who played a significant role in advancing German reunification. They include U.S. President George H. W. Bush, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and Polish labor union leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Lech Walesa, among others. Leipzig artist Michael Fischer-Art painted this segment, depicting protesters during that city’s own “Peaceful Revolution” demonstrations in 1988-89. Fischer-Art had created many of the original banners that protesters carried as they chanted, “Wir sind das Volk” (“We are the People”), “Freiheit” (“Freedom”), and other pro-democracy messages.

The “Signature Segment” is one of the first objects visitors encounter as they enter the NMAD. Visitors will see the historic signatures on one side and the powerful symbols on the other. Highlighting the important roles diplomacy and the courage of individuals played in ending the Cold War, the “Signature Segment” has pride of place in the first museum dedicated to telling the story of American diplomacy.

In Focus icon.

Diplomacy is Our Mission: Combating Illegal Drug Trafficking

A Peruvian worker, wearing protective gear, uses a cococho tool to uproot illegal coca plants in a green field. Another worker is seen behind him doing similar work.
A red cococho is a metal tool with a blade scoop and mechanism at one end and a long handle for leverage.

The international illegal drug trade endangers the health and lives of U.S. citizens now more than ever. In 2017 alone, as U.S. communities suffered through an opioid crisis with overseas roots, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Drug trafficking funds international organized crime, corruption, and terrorism, threatening U.S. interests around the world. In 2017, the illegal drug trade was estimated to be worth around $500 billion – more than the gross domestic product of Belgium.

The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs combats drug trafficking in many countries, including Peru – one of the world’s largest producers of cocaine. Cocaine-related deaths in the United States are on the rise, with deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl being cut into cocaine. American diplomats provide training and assistance to foreign police and prosecutors working to detect, intercept, and seize narcotics. They also support drug use prevention and treatment efforts to reduce demand.

“Our counter-narcotics efforts have to be done together with development activities and access to government services for this cycle to end.” — Jimmy Story, Foreign Service Officer

By helping other countries reduce illegal drug production, diplomats support international stability while also strengthening our own national security.

In Focus icon.

The Fall of Saigon: The Bravery of American Diplomats and Refugees

Vintage photograph of Consul General Francis Terry McNamara as he stands at one end of a barge that is covered by a solid canopy. He is surrounded by armed guards and a large group of refugee are seen gathered in the main body of the barge.

On April 30, 1975, the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese Army effectively ending the Vietnam War. In the days before, U.S. forces evacuated thousands of Americans and South Vietnamese. American diplomats were on the frontlines, organizing what would be the most ambitious helicopter evacuation in history. The logistics of issuing visas and evacuating these Vietnamese and American citizens were not glamorous but were essential.

While Saigon was falling, the rest of South Vietnam also was evacuating as quickly as possible. Approximately 100 miles away in Cần Thơ, one diplomat saved hundreds of Vietnamese refugees by devising and leading a risky evacuation. Francis Terry McNamara served as Consul General in Cần Thơ, Vietnam at the time of the U.S. evacuation. The U.S. Embassy for expediency and security reasons was only going to provide helicopters with enough room to evacuate the 18 or so American employees. McNamara said Saigon could have the consulate’s helicopters now, rather than in six hours after evacuating Americans, if McNamara could evacuate everyone, including Vietnamese staff, by boat.

Ambassador McNamara points to an artifact and speaks as two people standing next to him look on.

Utilizing his skills as a former sailor, McNamara commandeered some barges with help from a USAID colleague. McNamara captained the convoy down a Mekong Delta tributary, at one point being stopped by the South Vietnamese Navy and taking fire from Viet Cong troops. The barge bobbed in the open sea for a few hours until lights could be seen. They were from an American freighter contracted by the CIA for evacuations. However, those on board had no idea who McNamara and his band of about 300 Vietnamese and Americans were. They were finally convinced to take everyone on board to safety.

In 2019, Ambassador McNamara donated the U.S. flag and the Consular flags, taken from the consulate building as they evacuated and then subsequently flown on the barge he commanded during the evacuation.

In Focus icon.

Hometown Diplomats Connect with the American People: Meet Kelley Whitson

Kelly Whitson.

For nearly two decades, the Hometown Diplomats Program has helped the State Department enact Foreign Policy for the American People. Participating State professionals connect with local communities and explain how foreign policy activities, while focused overseas, support peace and prosperity at home. The Bureau of Global Public Affairs’ Public Liaison office currently supports Civil and Foreign Service volunteers on trips to their hometowns to speak with local organizations, schools, government officials, and local media. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the program increasingly has organized virtual events. Please read further to learn more about some examples of Hometown Diplomats.

Kelley Whitson joined the U.S. Department of State in 2014 and currently covers gender equality, entrepreneurship, and health for the Bureau of African Affairs. Kelley previously worked as a staff assistant in the African Affairs Front Office. She completed two overseas tours in Copenhagen, Denmark and Monterrey, Mexico. Prior to joining the Department of State, Kelley worked as a community planner at the Department of Transportation and completed a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Malaysia. Kelley holds a master’s degree in International Development from American University and a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Spelman College.

We asked Kelley a few questions about her experience participating in the Hometown Diplomat Program. Read her responses below.

Please share your career experience and personal journey that led to your current position.

“I have always been interested in foreign affairs, but never knew what my career options could be. I learned about the Foreign Service when I participated in the Rangel Summer Enrichment Program. The program laid the foundation, and I later joined the Foreign Service in 2014. My interest in foreign affairs continued to grow while I was a student at Spelman College, during my time in Malaysia, and continues to grow with every Foreign Service tour. I graduated from a women’s college and am an Economic-coned officer, so it was a natural fit to work as the Gender, Entrepreneurship, and Health Officer for the Bureau of African Affairs.”

Why did you want to be a part of the Hometown Diplomat Program?

“I wanted to be a part of the Hometown Diplomat program because I am proud of the work that we do at the State Department. I think it is important to share our work with the local community to clear up misconceptions and to explain how everything we do is in service our country. Serving as a link between my community in my hometown and the Department is a very rewarding experience.”

In Focus icon.

Meet Hometown Diplomat Peter Winter

Peter Winter stands with a Saudi Arabian official for a ground breaking ceremony. In front of them is a large box filled with sand and three shovels. Behind them a U.S. flag billows up with the wind.

Peter Winter is a Special Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. He previously has served overseas in Islamabad, Pakistan; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and Shanghai, China. Prior to joining the State Department, he worked for the USA Pavilions at two World Expos (World’s Fairs). He graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master’s in Public Diplomacy and a Bachelor’s in International Relations and East Asian Languages. He also has a certificate in Mandarin Chinese from Peking University in Beijing. Peter is originally from Taos, New Mexico.

Why did you want to be a part of the Hometown Diplomat Program?

Put simply, I am proud of our work at the State Department and want more people from my hometown to consider international careers or study abroad.

Can you explain the Taos Diplomats Scholarship and how your Hometown Diplomat Engagement led to its creation?

As in many small towns, it just takes a small push for young people to expand their horizons. My high school has long run a community scholarship program where local businesses and civic groups can support graduating seniors at any financial level.

After meeting with local education organizations during my Hometown Diplomats experience, I was energized to do more. I started the Taos Diplomats Scholarship with the modest goal of providing an opportunity for Taos students to study more about the world around them. Scholarship funds could be used in any manner to further a student’s exploration of the world: pay for classes, buy a plane ticket, get a new camera for their adventures. The only requirement was that recipients must use the funds to “elevate their global thinking.”

Since inception, 20 students, many of whom are first-generation college students, have received support through the scholarship. It has helped Taoseños interested in international careers and world affairs to reach that next level.

In Focus icon.

Meet Hometown Diplomat Eduardo Belalcazar

Diplomat Eduardo Belalcazar, wearing a pink suit, stands in front of pink food truck and smiles for the camera.

Eduardo Belalcazar joined the Department of State as a Spanish language Consular Fellow in 2020. He currently is assigned to the U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana, Mexico, where he works in the American Citizen Services section and volunteers his time to support his fellow employees, including by serving as the American Foreign Service Association post representative. Eduardo received his Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Global Studies, a Business Foundations Certificate and a Certificate in Human Rights and Social Justice from the University of Texas at Austin. As an undergraduate, Eduardo received a Department of State Gilman Grant to study Spanish and social justice in Nicaragua, as well as a Boren Scholarship to study Portuguese and racial justice in Brazil. These opportunities cemented his desire to become a diplomat.

Has the Hometown Diplomat Program left an imprint on your personal and professional success? If so, how would you articulate that impact to a perspective applicant?

When I joined the Hometown Diplomats program, I did not realize all the amazing opportunities it would help me create for myself. I did several presentations about diplomacy to middle school and high school students at Chinquapin Preparatory School in Houston. I recorded presentations not only on what diplomacy is, but also on different pathways, such as the privately funded Texas-based Terry Foundation Scholarship, that can lead to a career in diplomacy. I developed a virtual 5K, which raised more than $3,000 for scholarships for seniors at Chinquapin. I accomplished all of this in my first year as a U.S. diplomat.

How would you describe the feeling of talking about your career and presenting to your community?

It is surreal to talk to students across various age groups from the same communities as my own. I often wonder how much sooner I would have been able to join the Department if I had found a mentor in this field.

U.S. Secretaries of State Past and Present

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future