The Foreign Service--A Unified Voice for America Abroad.

Author:Jeffrey-Coker, Frances
Position:Commentary and Analysis - Essay

March/April 2017

The Foreign Service is a more than just a career; it is a profession that demands the excise of duty and responsibility. Much the way that other professions such as law and medicine extend a code of ethics beyond the confines of the courtroom or the hospital, a diplomat is expected to represent a unified United States at all times. It is with this responsibility that Foreign Service inductees take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. This responsibility is upheld by our finest Foreign Service corps despite differences in background and ideology, distinguishing us when we travel abroad and present our views to the world.

I had the great honor of serving first as a Foreign Service Specialist with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in Pretoria, South Africa and again in Tunis, Tunisia. I then transitioned to the role of a Political Officer, serving at the U.S. Mission to the EU in Brussels, Belgium. Although personal and academic ambitions brought me back to the states in pursuit of a doctoral degree, it is my hope that I will return to some form of service in the future. During my time as a diplomat, I discovered that the greatest lesson I had learned was not about foreign policy but about politics and society right here at home.

The men and women of the Foreign Service come from all walks of life, creating a diverse community of Americans in Embassies all over the world. I worked alongside colleagues with such varied experience as teachers, lawyers, technicians, and retired military service members. Not only are diplomats diverse in experience, they are diverse in geographic origin. I met people who called a variety of states home, from the deserts of New Mexico to rural communities of Pennsylvania. I met Republicans, Democrats, libertarians and those without affiliation at all. Some immigrated to the United States as kids or grew up like generations before them in the U.S. heartland. All were willing and motivated to come together to represent the interests of the United States, offering a diverse and heterogeneous representation of race, religion, sexual orientation, and values. Although the service always has room to improve in regards to representing the full diversity of America, it offers the world a window on the differences that distinguish us and yet ultimately bring us all together.

Advocating on behalf of U.S. interests overseas means pushing the boundaries of professionalism in both a public...

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