The summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to intern at U.S. Embassy Bogota and have my first experience inside a U.S. Embassy! Embassy Bogota is one of the top 10 largest U.S. Embassies, so I was exposed to many aspects of the foreign service. This experience also helped me decide my future cone – Public Diplomacy. As a U.S. Diplomat, one can choose between five different career tracks also known as “cones.” The five cones are: Consular Affairs, Economic Affairs, Management Affairs, Political Affairs, and Public Diplomacy.
The State Department describes Public Diplomacy Officers as “experts in cross-cultural relations and communications who build public awareness and promote U.S. interests abroad.” The Public Diplomacy Section is also known as Public Affairs Section (PAS) and it is divided into two sub-sections: the press team and cultural team. I interned with the press team. Embassy Bogota is an unusual embassy because of its size. Thus, the press team also had 3 sub-teams: print, digital, and studio.
As a press intern, I had the opportunity to manage the embassy’s Instagram page of 23K followers and create original content to post on the page and story. I also monitored the direct messages of the embassy’s Facebook page of 280k followers. I contributed to embassy digital media engagement by creating scripts and filming 6 “English Tip” videos to teach common English phrases and disseminate embassy messaging to the Colombian public. The topics ranged from commonly confused words to grammar lessons. I also helped the studio team with videography during embassy events for Instagram or Facebook Live. One of my biggest projects on the press side was revamping the embassy’s daily press communications by conducting an analysis of best practices of nine different U.S. Embassies in Latin America.
I also collaborated weekly with interagency partners including the military and over 10 local partners to plan for the arrival of the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), which provides medical assistance to vulnerable communities throughout Latin America. I attended meetings in Spanish at different agencies in Colombia and at the embassy to coordinate all the details of the mission.
Additionally, I had the opportunity to work with the cultural team of PAS. I supported the cultural team by meeting with scholars that win scholarships to go study in the United States. For instance, I helped coordinate the Pre-Departure Orientation for the embassy’s Community College Initiative. I also gave a speech about my educational experience in the U.S. and the cultural differences between Colombia and the U.S. Additionally, I had the opportunity to participate in the Embassy Speakers’ Program by doing presentations for groups of more than 100 Colombian students about U.S. history and culture. I created a presentation on U.S. Independence Day to teach students the history of that holiday and how we celebrate it.