What is Citizen Diplomacy?

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Citizen diplomacy, or public diplomacy, is the grassroots of foreign relations. Traditional diplomacy takes place between states; public diplomacy involves person-to-person contact between citizens of different countries – whether by professionals, volunteers, students, or travelers. This interaction helps to shape public opinion and understanding. Today, globalization and the engagement of private citizens in international business provide every individual with a greater opportunity as well as more responsibility for exercising citizen diplomacy than ever before.

Recognizing the importance of citizen diplomacy to U.S. foreign relations and national security, the U.S. Government has long supported programs like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Peace Corps, youth exchanges, and fellowships. Such programs are considered long-term investments, impacting individuals and communities in both the United States and abroad.

WorldBoston is proud to have implemented these and other public diplomacy initiatives since 1961, when the organization was founded as the Boston Center for International Visitors. Each year we welcome hundreds of current and emerging leaders from all over the world to the Greater Boston area, organizing professional exchanges, forging connections between them and local counterparts, and promoting international cooperation. We are a member of the Global Ties U.S. (formerly the National Council for International Visitors) network and collaborate with affiliated organizations in Washington, D.C., on many projects.

You can learn more about our visitors and how you can become a citizen diplomat in the Boston area.