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by Michael Cotter

As those of us who have served know, the Foreign Service is at its best when facing a crisis.  At those times the Service as a whole pulls together to meet the challenge.  Certainly the way Foreign Service people have responded to requests for volunteers to fill critical positions in wartime conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan is one example.  But an even better, current example is the response of Foreign Service people to the earthquake in Haiti.

Many of our readers are familiar with the Foreign Service Journal, the “Magazine For Foreign Affairs Professionals” published by the American Foreign Service Association.  For those not familiar with it, the Journal is available online ( in a new and very accessible format and is must reading for anyone interested in a career in the Foreign Service or simply interested in how the Service works and what its people do.

The April issue of the Journal focused on how the Service responded to the Haiti earthquake with several articles under the general rubric of “Hands Across the Sea: The Foreign Service Helps in Haiti.”  One article by a USAID officer who happened to be in Haiti profiles the impact of the earthquake on local embassy employees and others who came to the embassy for assistance.  Others report on the response of Embassy Santo Domingo and offer vignettes from Foreign Service staffers from other countries who volunteered to go to Haiti to assist with recovery efforts.  The coverage begins on page 27 of that issue and can be accessed electronically at:

Once you’ve looked at the April issue, I strongly recommend opening the current, May, issue as well.  Its focus is the future of the Foreign Service, certainly a topic of interest to anyone with a possible interest in a career in the Service.  Articles discuss professional development; current and proposed hiring process improvements; redefining the mission of diplomacy; and profile the office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization.

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