What Is an Ambassador?

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A U.S. ambassador is the President’s highest-ranking representative to a country or international organization abroad. The ambassador leads the diplomats and staff serving at a U.S. embassy or mission.

Ambassador Marcia Bernicat has served as an ambassador to Bangladesh, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau. In this video she introduces the role and responsibilities of U.S. ambassadors.

Discussion Questions

Use the following discussion questions to guide your classroom conversations about this video. Refer to the timestamps to find the answers to these questions.

  1. What is an ambassador? (start – 0:10)
  2. What does the speaker mean when she says, “to be the voice and face of the United States?” (0:40 – 0:53)
  3. How does an ambassador prepare for their role? (1:25 – 2:20)
  4. What is a diaspora and who makes up these groups? (1:50 – 2:05)
  5. Why would another country’s government and citizens want to meet with the U.S. ambassador of their country? (3:35 – 3:50)
  6. To what extent is an ambassador’s information and interpretation of information important for the development of policy? (5:05 – 6:12)
  7. What is one thing you learned from the video that you found interesting, surprising, or confusing?
  8. What is one question you would ask the speaker in this video?
  9. Summarize what you learned about being a U.S. ambassador.

Video Vocabulary

The following terms are referenced in this video.

  • Ambassador – The lead official representative to a foreign country.
  • Foreign Service – The diplomatic service of the United States made up of people who serve in the State Department. Foreign Service officers (FSO) serve overseas to formulate and implement foreign policy and help U.S. citizens abroad.
  • Interpret – To explain the meaning of something.
  • Interests – What a county sees as important or valuable.
  • Diaspora – People who have moved or dispersed from their original homeland.
  • Activist – Someone who campaigns or advocates for a change.
  • Developing country – A country that has a lower standard of living and less economic activity compared to other countries.
  • Infrastructure – Systems of equipment and structures in an area, such as roads, buildings, or power supplies.
  • Endorse – To approve openly.
  • Credible – Believable.

AP and IB Course Connections

Use this video in your Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. Below are prompts for each course.

AP Comparative Government

Suggested Course Units: Unit 1: Political Systems, Regimes, and Governments, Unit 2: Political Institutions, Unit 5: Political and Economic Changes and Development
Question Type: Conceptual Analysis
Prompt: Answer a, b, c, and d.
(A) Define ambassador.
(B) Describe a situation when a democratic or authoritarian government supported an ambassador to promote its foreign policy.
(C) Explain two ways an ambassador carries out diplomacy.
(D) Describe the benefits of having a government department devoted to international relations.

IB Global Politics

Paper Type: Stimulus-based paper on a topic from one of the four core units.
Prompt: According to the video and examples you have studied, explain three ways ambassadors enact a country’s foreign policy.