A Summer of Citizen Diplomacy…Minus the Suit

The US Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD) lives in Des Moines, Iowa and defies the stern men in suits idea of a “diplomat”. I was lucky enough to intern at USCCD this summer, focusing on multimedia and outreach via social media and email campaigning. The three months went ridiculously quickly, and were full of amazing co-workers and projects.

At 22, I do not have a certain dream career in mind. I know I want to explore multimedia, particularly video and photography, advocacy and human rights advancement in post-conflict regions. I want whatever I do to be incredible, exciting, and full of meeting new people and hearing their stories. USCCD offered a glimpse into that. I have done work with several non-profits, allowing me to realize I love working directly with people, seeing results, and the flexibility usually found at such organizations.

USCCD merged with CDC Development Solutions in 2010. I joined USCCD in May of 2013. My supervisors were itching to incorporate multimedia into their work to develop on this time of exciting change. We began an online engagement campaign shortly after I started. The goal of the campaign was to express how we are all citizen diplomats, simply by engaging across cultures, in our own backyard, or while abroad.

First, we needed a campaign theme. Brainstorming produced “You had me at {Hello}”. So, I wanted to portray this via video. Des Moines, Iowa, despite being known for the excess of corn, is full of incredible people from all over the world. They speak the languages to prove it. I filmed several people saying “Hello” in their language and produced this piece to introduce our audience to how simple citizen diplomacy can be. Check it out, and more on the campaign, here.

The next multimedia piece came together thanks to those amazing co-workers being willing to be interviewed and part of a photo shoot in order to share a bit about their own citizen diplomacy experiences. This was thanks to a plan I hatched 24 hours before they were to fly out to D.C. And we did it! Check it out, here.

I also received the chance to meet quite a few inspiring folks to capture their stories on video. These will be available on an online library when the series is complete.

USCCD gave me the opportunity to write promotional web pieces, email campaign content, and blog content [for the Japan Center (a program under the USCCD)]. Constant Contact and I became good friends, as well as I and how finicky drafting email content can be.

The three months were a taste of a work environment I love, fantastic co-workers, and developing skills I want to use for a lifetime. A huge thanks to everyone at USCCD. Cheers for citizen diplomacy!