You are a Diplomat

Being a diplomat and representing your country is not just a profession, in fact, if you:

  • Advocate for international issues; 
  • Travel abroad; 
  • Host people from other countries in your home, workplace, school, or community;
  • Use social media; or
  • Have a passport…

You are a citizen diplomat!

The U.S. Department of State is not the only organization involved in the world of diplomacy. There are many ways individuals can become a part of international relations as well.

What is citizen diplomacy?

Citizen Diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right to help shape U.S. foreign relations “one handshake at a time.” Citizen diplomats can be students, teachers, athletes, artists, business people, humanitarians, adventurers, or tourists. They are motivated by a desire to engage with the rest of the world in a meaningful, mutually beneficial dialogue.

A student at Temple University in Philadelphia, prepares to study abroad in Italy.

How to Become a Citizen Diplomat

1) Learn a language, get a passport, and go overseas

By traveling overseas, you are like a diplomat. You are representing the United States and are sometimes the first interaction someone overseas has with our nation. Often, the first impression of a nation comes from its people, and that could be you! . Your behaviors and interactions offer impressions of what your home country is like.

2) Use social media

Social media is a modern-day tool that can be used to represent your nation as well as a platform to advocate for international issues you feel strongly about. It is an outlet for you to share your voice, culture, and community with the world.

Modern technology provides access to the world in a way never seen before. The ability to access information in seconds allows the world to stay interconnected. You can contribute to this by:

  • Posting pictures and videos of your hometown
  • Sharing your traditions
  • Following those in other countries and connecting with them
  • Using social media as a tool to learn more about other cultures
  • Staying updated on global issues and advocating for them on your profiles

3) Read the newspaper

Become informed about the world and what’s happening in it. The relations between countries encompass political trends, economic ties, cultural exchanges, and visitors crossing borders. Knowing these current events helps you interact knowledgeably with others and learn what needs to be addressed.

4) Write to your representative or contact the State Department

Is there an international issue that you feel strongly about? Do you agree with how the issue is being handled? If not, write your Representative or Senators to share your thoughts on our nation’s foreign policy. Or share your thoughts by contacting the Department of State. You can also join a non-governmental organization that promotes an international cause you believe in.

How to Become a Student Diplomat

1) Exchange Programs

Immerse yourself in another language and culture and become an exchange student. Learn more at [email protected]

2) Internships & Fellowships 

The State Department offers a variety of student programs in Washington D.C. and abroad in our embassies and consulates. These experiences offer students a unique perspective on diplomacy in action and what a career in the foreign or civil service looks like. Learn more about internships and fellowships.

How to Become a Professional Diplomat

The above-mentioned list describes ways to become involved in our international community and serve as a citizen diplomat. Want more? Become a career diplomat and work with the U.S. Department of State.

1) Become a Foreign Service Officer

The mission of a U.S. diplomat in the Foreign Service is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.

Any high school graduate at least 20 years of age is eligible to become a Foreign Service Officer. But first, you must pass the Foreign Service Officer Test.

2) Find a Specialist Position

The U.S. Department of State offers career opportunities to professionals in specialized functions needed to meet Foreign Service responsibilities around the world. Specialists provide important technical, management, healthcare, or administrative services. 

Find out more about becoming a Foreign Service Specialist here

3) Join the Civil Service

The civil service includes employees located in Washington, D.C. or other cities throughout the United States who help to drive diplomatic principles and initiatives worldwide. 

Find out more about a career as a civil servant here

Diplomacy 101

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