I made a big deal about getting their passport. I treated it like a right of passage. They were graduating from the fifth grade, and they were about to become citizens of the world. I told each of them, "You are an ambassador for your country."
Traveling is one of life's biggest privileges. Adventures and experiences of a lifetime are ripe for the picking on all seven continents and people often ask me how they can give back while they travel. Here are some suggestions.
Critics should unwring their hands because selling ambassadorships is a time-honored tradition that is not going to change. America's representation abroad could be improved, but editorial indignation won't do it.
You don't have to know anything, or have any specific background or training, to be the president's personal representative abroad and conduct foreign policy on behalf of the World's Most Powerful Nation.
In 1996, I was back in South Africa to present my credentials to President Mandela as the U.S. Ambassador. "I have come to exchange my 'free Mandela' sign for my credentials as the United States Ambassador," I said. He loved it.
On this week's episode of "Conversations with Nicholas Kralev," meet the Canadian ambassador to the United States, Gary Doer, a longtime politician who was most recently premier of the province of Manitoba.
A veteran Goldman Sachs & Co. executive and major fundraiser for President Barack Obama has been nominated as the next ambassador to Canada -- the latest in a parade of big-dollar campaign backers slated to represent U.S. interests abroad.
When Caroline Kennedy goes before the Senate for her confirmation hearings to become the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, she could surprise everyone by showing an appreciation for Japan's single most important issue -- its aging population.
Aside from the lack of language skills, Kennedy is a much better choice than most campaign bundlers who get plush ambassadorial posts for no other reason than having fundraised for the winning presidential candidate.
Diplomacy today is about much more than just being "the face" of the United States to the host country or about throwing and attending parties. There is no evidence that Anna Wintour would be good at that.
What we say, do, and eat has global implications, and on these three major security frontiers we must do better: religious, food and climate security. Each of us has a role to play, and each of us is capable of making a difference.
To continue on our current foreign policy course means more dead soldiers, more dead Foreign Service personnel, and more wasted resources. The rest of the world is willing to shed blood. It shouldn't be ours.