Foreign Policy Blogs

DIY Diplomacy

Diplomacy isn't just an activity civil servants engage in. the average American (gasp!) can be a diplomat too. Whether it's going th extra mile to be nice to foreigners you meet on the street, or trying your hardest to be a well-behaved international tourist, Americans themselves can together help to polish the US tarnished image abroad.

 One organization dedicated to this type of activity, called “citizen diplomacy,” is the Des Moines, Iowa-based-U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy. They have recently published a list of 10 things you and I can do to support the US’ public diplomacy efforts. Here they are:

1) Host a youth exchange student in your home –

2) Urge your local school board to include foreign languages from grade school through high school- and encourage your children to study a foreign language, world history and international news –

3) Encourage your children to correspond with an electronic pen pal overseas (such as and to participate in study abroad programs –

4) Get actively involved with organizations that have international programs, such as a local World Affairs Council –, or non-profit service organization with global outreach.

5) Welcome foreign visitors by supporting international visitor programs –

6) Support international disaster relief programs and organizations that provide international medical assistance –

7) Encourage people-to-people dialogue with other faiths through personal outreach or through your own church, synagogue, mosque or other faith-based institution.

8) Volunteer to serve on short-term assignments oversea with the USA Freedom Corps' Volunteers for Prosperity program – or with the U.S. Peace Corps. –

9) Support cultural exchanges for artists, musicians and writers through your local arts institution and international cultural programs –; or others such as –

10) Encourage your business or corporation to reach out in the countries where it has a presence, providing internships or supporting local schools and charities. To learn more about private sector outreach around the world or discuss potential partnerships email [email protected].

To check out some more of the Center's resources for citizen diplomats, click here.



Melinda Brouwer

Melinda Brower holds a Masters degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She received her bachelor's degree in Political Science and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received a graduate diploma in International Relations from the University of Chile during her tenure as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. She has worked on Capitol Hill, at the State Department, for Foreign Policy magazine and the American Academy of Diplomacy. She presently works for an internationally focused non-profit research organization in Washington, DC.