Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Leaving the Embassy


Ambassadors are supposed to be a country’s best foot forward, and they usually are; but their spouses aren’t usually noticed except when they turn out to have interesting side jobs back in the homeland. If an ambassador’s spouse is just doing the standard diplomatic meet-and-greet, it’s trade journals or the society pages at best, or perhaps a photo next to an ambassador of the same gender.

Except for a recent article in the Seoul Times, “Division of Labor Put in Diplomacy,” which highlights the public-diplomacy contributions of four ambassadorial spouses, all of whom happen to be women. Read it to see how the UAE’s Aida Al-Maainah, the United States’ Lisa Vershbow, Portugal’s Arlinda Frota, and Qatar’s Naomi Maki are getting out of the embassy and helping their countries’ images.

And yes, Lisa Vershbow is the wife of U.S. ambassador to Seoul Alexander Vershbow. I should have known anyone married to Ambassador Vershbow wouldn’t likely be a stay-at-home-and-bake-cookies type—although she may do that too.

(Thanks as always to John Brown's Public Diplomacy Review for the initial item.)

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