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What Is the U.S. Foreign Service?

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The U.S. Foreign Service supports the U.S. Department of State at its locations across the world.

Foreign Service Officers are selected and complete training in Washington, DC. There are five different types of Foreign Service Officers: Consular, Economic, Management, Political, and Public Diplomacy. Each of these officers has a unique function in carrying out American foreign policy.

This video looks at the State Department’s Foreign Service. Representatives from other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and others, also work at U.S. embassies and also carry out the work of diplomacy. Another group vital to the State Department are Foreign Service Specialists who work within a particular specialty throughout their career, such as healthcare or law enforcement. Explore different careers at the State Department at careers.state.gov.

Learn more about the State Department’s Foreign Service in this video.

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 were the first two branches of the U.S. Department of State? (start – 0:30)
  2. What did the Foreign Service Act of 1924 do to the U.S. Department of State’s structure? (start – 1:00)
  3. How does someone become a Foreign Service Officer, and what beliefs guide their work? (1:00 – 1:30)
  4. What are the five types of Foreign Service Officers at the State Department? (1:30 – 1:50)
  5. What skills should Foreign Service Officers have? (1:50 – end)
  6. What are your thoughts about this quote from the video regarding being a Foreign Service Officer, “It demands an ability to formulate and advance goals that benefit the United States and its partners, while also opening channels of communication with possible adversaries”? (4:30 – 4:45)
  7. If you were a Foreign Service Officer, which type of Foreign Service Officer would you like to work as?
  8. What is one thing you learned from the video that you found interesting, surprising, or confusing?

Video Vocabulary

The following terms are referenced in this video. 

  • Minister – A government official.
  • Merge – To combine.
  • Recruit – Adding new members to a group.
  • Competitive – Wanting to be more successful than others.
  • Evacuate – To move from danger to safety.
  • Fraud – Fake; trying to deceive people.
  • Technologies – Systems that help achieve something.
  • Persuasively – Changing a person’s opinion.
  • Formulate – To think and plan carefully.