I am in Washington DC this week courtesy of the State Department’s Office of Overseas Schools. They are giving an orientation to State Department’s programs for American-assisted overseas schools. As part of the workshop, we got a tour of the Harry S Truman State Department Building.
The headquarters of the US Department of State is located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of DC and is the work place for over 8,000 employees. The place is massive and holds a myriad of offices, reception rooms, including the office of America’s head diplomat, the Secretary of State. Security was tight and we needed to be escorted everywhere we went in the building. The State Department is sometimes referred to as “Foggy Bottom” because of its location. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in America and is quite affluent, being close to both Georgetown and George Washington universities.
The highlight for me was seeing the diplomatic reception rooms. The rooms house a collection of Colonial era art and furniture. I had chills seeing Thomas Jefferson’s travelling notebook, the 18th century version of the iPad pro! You could see that he was right handed by the ink drops below the right side of the notebook. The collection of portraits and paintings was also awesome (awe-inspiring meaning of the word). Washington DC has come a long way since the painting below. You can see why it is called Capitol Hill. Today you can barely see the hill because of it being surrounded by development.
The Ben Franklin Diplomatic Dining Room was amazing. The views from the balcony, the massive carpets and chandeliers lent an air of importance and dignity to the room. Many ambassadors and Secretary of States have been sworn in in that room.
The whole experience made me proud to be an American! There are over 300 embassies and consulates around the world. The US military gets more of the headlines and money, but in my opinion, diplomacy is just as important. Knowing that so many smart, hard-working people support the American government’s diplomatic efforts literally all over the world is reassuring.
I would like to thank the Office of Overseas Schools for welcoming the new directors to the State Department. I’ll do my best for the children of American diplomats and foreign service employees.