The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY-AUGUST 2020 83 AFSA NEWS AFSA Outreach in This New (Virtual) World AFSA’s outreach campaigns are designed to increase awareness of the work of the U.S. Foreign Service. We take the often complicated and nuanced work of diplomats and describe it in ways that will resonate with new audi- ences who may be com- pletely unfamiliar with what the foreign affairs agencies do. One of the major areas of Foreign Service work involves protecting Ameri- cans and keeping threats to our country at bay—whether the threats originate from criminal networks, pandem- ics, uncontrolled civil unrest spilling over borders, incipi- ent terrorist activity or pests that threaten livestock herds or our ecosystem. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the repatria- tion of more than 100,000 Americans from more than 135 locations around the world illustrates in a real and immediate way how the For- eign Service works to protect Americans—in other words, how the Foreign Service is our first line of defense. As we wrote in the June Journal , we assumed that we would have to slow down our public outreach efforts in the new reality dictated by the pandemic. However, the stories of how U.S. diplomats at embassies and consulates mounted a global response must be shared now. These stories illustrate the importance of the network of U.S. diplomatic posts—our enduring platforms in almost every country around the world—in serving our citizens and demonstrating global leadership. We have collaborated on an episode of the American Diplomat podcast, available at https://amdipstories. org/get-me-out-of-here, to tell the story of members of the Foreign Service at U.S. Embassy Quito working around the clock to repa- triate Americans, even as Ecuador became a hotspot of COVID-19 in Latin America. We are now assembling a team of messengers to help us share the stories of repatriations and the Foreign Service on the front lines. We are creating new content, including videos and clips to be shared virtually in social media and other campaigns. All of the messaging mate- rials for our First Line of Defense Campaign can be found at defense. While we are not slowing down our messaging, we have had to shift its delivery. AFSA has always relied on in-person events as a way to bring people together to inspire and educate them. The new coronavirus reality means that we must explore new platforms and ways of sharing information. Perhaps this is a silver lining—shifting to a largely virtual platform may allow us to reach even more people than in-person events could. We are testing out these platforms so that we can continue our planned activities virtually. Our aim is to reach new audiences, such as community college students and faculty, and to host virtual panels and share recorded modules. Telling the story of the Get Involved in The First Line of Defense • Contact AFSA Strategic Messaging Coordinator Nadja Ruzica at to join our roster of mes- sengers and/or for more information on how to get involved. • Visit our website at to familiarize yourself with our materials. • Reach out to your local community college. • Seek out other virtual opportunities in your community. • Share stories and videos on social media. The new coronavirus reality means that we must explore new platforms and ways of sharing information. Foreign Service is critical to helping us broaden our domestic constituency, particularly now as many countries, including ours, turn inward. We need to ensure continuing support for the U.S. Foreign Service. Are you ready to join us in this effort? n