Since the birth of our republic, the United States has relied on diplomacy to solve many of our bi-lateral problems, and we have relied on diplomats to negotiate everything from human rights treaties to trade agreements. Despite this impressive two-centuries old experience, the American public still doesn't know what diplomats do or how they do it!

Citizen DiplomatsI was privileged to be one of those officers for 20 years. Since my retirement from the foreign service, I have volunteered my time (like many of my former colleagues), working on the International Visitors (IV) Program with the National Council on International Visitors and the U.S. State Department. During this time, I have been unpleasantly surprised to learn how little my fellow citizens know about how their diplomats live and work overseas.

Since it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness, I decided to set up this site to help clear up some of the mystery of what diplomats actually do and use their own, first-person accounts to tell their stories. I'm hoping they will fill in a few of the blanks and show the ‘hidden work’ that these dedicated men and women have done and reveal the passion and dedication that so many of them have brought to their assignments. It is, after all, this dedication that has brought honor to our country and led to the formation of thousands of enduring relationships with people from all over the world.

If you are a retired foreign service officer from any of the U.S. foreign service agencies, a former Peace Corps volunteer or have worked in one of our overseas missions, I encourage you to contribute your stories, anecdotes or photos to these pages. If you’d like to be a part of our ‘address book,’ a password-protected place where you can list your contact info (and where your former colleagues can get in touch with you), I invite you to do so. Enjoy and use our site, and please send us your comments and suggestions on how we might improve it. Thanks for your service to our country.

Stephan Helgesen

Stephan Helgesen