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Partners in Diplomacy: Words of Wisdom from Experienced Diplomatic Spouses

  1. Be curious, flexible, adaptable, and optimistic, with a taste for adventure. The Foreign Service is not just a job; it is a career. And a lifestyle.
  2. Approach each post with an open mind. Say ‘yes’ to new experiences. View your life in chapters. You have a chance to start anew at each post according to your personal and professional priorities and also the needs of your family. Develop a new skill or a new interest at each post.
  3. Communicate with your spouse. Make decisions about your next post together. Keep your eyes on the relationship, on ways to support and encourage each other.
  4. Take care of yourself. Mind and body wellness are important. Stay healthy and ask for help if you need it (embassy, local and now remote).
  5. Learn the language of each country where you are posted. Learn as much as you can about the culture and history. Then immerse yourself in the new culture, meet new people, get involved in local activities. And don’t just stick with embassy Americans.
  6. Use State Department and embassy resources: the Global Community Liaison Office, Overseas Briefing Center, information on employment opportunities, counseling, mental health support, school support, retraining grants, courses, language training, area studies and cross-cultural classes.
  7. This is not going to be a straight career path. Your resume is not going to look like the people you went to college with. Define success differently. Success may not be about making more money or having a fancier title this year than last year.
  8. Assess and utilize your strengths. Having a portable career is useful, but even with it, you will probably have to adapt to each country where you are working.
  9. Volunteer work and jobs outside of your field of expertise and in the local community can be enriching.
  10. There are many opportunities now to work online or to advance your education through online courses and training.
  11. Read about “Third Culture Kids,” the advantages and challenges of raising children in the Foreign Service.
  12. Try to bring your children home to the U.S. every year. It will help them establish a sense of place, an anchor to the United States and extended family, and it gives them an opportunity to feel more American.