The Foreign Service Journal, December 2019

sessions, ate in the State Department cafeteria and listened to ambassadors and other members of the Foreign Service talk about their experiences. Standing in the grand State Depart- ment lobby, with flags of the nations of the world hanging in alphabetical order, was an unforgettable experience. We learned that countries with diplomatic relations with the United States have their flags hung, and those without diplomatic relations are excluded. I could have read a Facebook post to find this out, but it would not have been the same. Finding out about a diplomatic career in the nation’s capital, rather than researching it online, took me out of my comfort zone. In talking with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie Chung in the Bureau of Western Hemi- sphere Affairs, we learned that that’s what a career with the State Department is all about. Members of the Foreign Service are pushed perpetually to adapt, be lead- ers, act with integrity at all times, communicate successfully and be resourceful. Some of her experi- ences cannot be gained anywhere else, or in any other career, PDAS Chung explained, reminiscing about the time she crossed the Korean Peninsula’s 38th parallel. Getting In Being in D.C. alsomeant we received uncensored advice about pay, family life, work-life balance, educational opportunities, life abroad, two-year tours and appli- FS members also reassured us that it is important to keep pursuing our pas- sions and living our lives while preparing for a Foreign Service career on the side, because it can take a very long time from the application start date to an offer, deployment and, finally, service to our country. What Diplomacy Is The great diversity of gender, home state, race, ethnicity, educational back- ground and experience abroad among our group was another important feature of the program. This diversity was most beneficial during the U.S. Diplomacy Center simulation because everyone brought their different perspectives and experiences to the negotiating table. For instance, those of us who have traveled abroad were more likely to negotiate about large-scale projects. Those who hadn’t were more likely to stick to their country’s interests and the concise problem presented. The combination made for a more holistic process that looked at all aspects of the issue at hand. Reflecting on the session after- ward, we concluded that “nego- tiation” was not just something between delegates from different countries. I had gone in with the idea that negotiations are what happens with the “other,” rather than among my own team. This experience created a new aware- ness about what diplomacy is and how it works. We kept referring back to the term “diplomacy” throughout the fellowship. Prior to this experience, for me “diplomacy” was what ambassadors do in other countries as they travel; cation process quirks, in addition to receiv- ing answers to any questions we had. We also gained insights into the For- eign Service Officer Test. Our FS inter- locutors helped demystify it by sharing their personal experiences with prepara- tion and giving us advice on how to build our diplomatic skills. One thing that really stood out for me was the reassurance that some officers take the FSOT multiple times before passing. We were encour- aged to stay motivated, even after one, two, three or 10 rejections! We were, in effect, invited into a day in the life of amember of the U.S. Foreign Service. The author delivers remarks during a simulation exercise at the U.S. Diplomacy Center, November 2018. 76 DECEMBER 2019 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT COURTESYOFMARIETTEBOUTROS