It was a real treat to visit the US embassy in Beirut. Security to get into the Embassy was very intense. We waited around for everyone to go through individually. Getting our whole group through security took almost as long as our meeting with the State department employees. I was lucky to be one of the first through security because once we were through there was an informal conversation with two relatively new Foreign Service Officers. One of them was from Ohio and did the Peace Corps! They were very open with us about their process to the State department. A helpful tip they gave us for the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) was to make sure to know the US Constitutional Amendments, as well as extensive as possible background in History. I was surprised to learn that one woman had only studied French before her appointment to Lebanon and was not required to study Arabic at all. One of the new employees had gotten their Masters in Public Policy. This was helpful to learn since I have been looking at Masters Programs.
Four main goals for the US Embassy in Beirut were outlined for us:
- Push back against Hezbollah – because the United States has designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization the Embassy is essential in the region.
- Fight counter-terrorism
- Aid in the Middle East Peace Process
- Help US Citizens in the country
Overall, the visit to the US Embassy was very informative and I really enjoyed it. We learned that the employees at the Embassy are not allowed to leave the Embassy whenever they want. They need to schedule their movements a few days in advance and be outside the Embassy for a maximum of six hours two times per week. Also they theoretically can’t have predictable movements, like going to the same bar every week, but in practice this might not always be true. It is certainly an interesting lifestyle! Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to bring our cameras into the Embassy so I don’t have any photos (the photo is from the bus on one of our many drives around Beirut). Here’s their website if you’d like more information: http://lebanon.usembassy.gov/