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46

APRIL 2017

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

The interviews also shed light on the day-to-day work of

embassy employees that rarely makes the news—how consular

officers assessed the revolution’s impact onmigration patterns

through interactions at their visa windows; the unique challenges

for regional security officers (RSOs) protecting U.S. officials,

including congressional delegations, while they visited protests; or

the emotional story of one Locally Employed staffmember, mobi-

lized into the Ukrainianmilitary to help fend off Russian aggres-

sion, who received assistance fromhis fellow local staff colleagues

so he could be properly outfitted when he deployed to the front.

We recorded each interviewwith audio and video equipment

and produced transcripts that participants could review. What

resulted was hours of useful material that provide an unusually

detailed look at diplomacy and the diplomat’s life, as seen through

the eyes of diplomats themselves.

Continuing the Story, and Stories

I amnowworking with ADST to find the right venue for these

materials, including choosing excerpts that could be released or

exhibited to educate the American public about the historic work

the Foreign Service, and the U.S. government more broadly, per-

formoverseas.

While my initial motivations for the project were based on

interest in preserving history and educating the public, I came to

learn that the simple act of sitting down and talking about one’s

experiences can have unexpected benefits. Many participants told

me it felt refreshing to get out of their day-to-day grind and have a

chance to reflect, even if for only an hour, on their experiences at

post—to gather their thoughts and develop a comprehensive view

of their assignment. For others, just participating in the project was

cathartic after such a stressful year.

Given howmany of my colleagues benefited from their par-

ticipation in the project, perhaps as an organization we should

consider adopting oral history as a formof exit interview at more

posts—particularly ones that have faced a crisis—as a way to bring

assignments to a close in a manner that affirms the experiences

and contributions of all our employees overseas.

n

The interviews also shed

light on the day-to-day work

of embassy employees that

rarely makes the news.