The Day My Job Mattered Most: Tania, Public Diplomacy Officer


TANIA: My name is Tania, and I’m a Foreign Service Officer in
the Public Diplomacy field. In 1993, I was a brand new Foreign Service Officer,
in a brand new embassy, in a brand new
country, in Kazakhstan. I accompanied our Ambassador,
along with a couple of other embassy officers to meet
with the Kazakhstani side. On their side, the person
speaking with us was the Foreign Minister of the
entire country. So we were having this
small meeting to discuss the announcement; therefore,
my role, my contribution, was supposed to be important. As it happened that
day, I had laryngitis, so I had to whisper my
contribution to this very important meeting, but in a
demonstration of human empathy, all the other participants
whispered back starting with the Foreign Minister. So we had this long, intense
meeting all in a whisper, and it made the whole thing
seem even more secret. In the end, the announcement
was covered by the world. It was a big deal. It was probably the height
of our relationship -U.S. relationship
with Kazakhstan. The fun of Kazakhstan then is
there were very few Americans that had ever lived
there so we really got to start from scratch. As I’ve progressed and done
more and more senior jobs in the Public Diplomacy field, I’ve
probably picked up more skills about how to present
a complex policy, how to study a language
in a very specialized way, how to manage the people
who will help me do my job. That’s one of the most important
things that you pick up as you progress in a State Department career, but that openness to a culture, both the State Department’s
culture, and a foreign culture, really set you off
on a great foot, even if you haven’t had a
lot of State Department training when you come in to
the Foreign Service.

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