Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Minding Our DiploManners

Saturday I spent the day at FSI attending the MQ116 Protocol and U.S. Representation Abroad course, an engaging course offered by the Overseas Briefing Center. The class was full of both FSOs and their partners and included exercises to put rules to practice.

Diplomatic protocols were established at the 1815 Congress of Vienna, including the order of precedence and diplomatic titles which are still used today. We also learned about receiving lines, invitations, seating charts, business cards, place settings and entertaining.

One interesting fact was the difference between the Continental style of eating (fork in left hand, knife in right) from the American style of eating (knife in right for cutting with a switch to fork in right for eating).

The American style or zig-zag style was common in Europe and the U.S. prior to the American Revolution. After the American Revolution, the Europeans evolved the zig-zag style to the Continental style for more efficiencies, but since the Americans wanted to reject everything British they maintained the zig-zag style which was then renamed into the American style. Whew!

Regardless, it was a great course that I recommend to anyone that has the chance to take. One couple brought their teenage son, which was a fantastic idea and he really enjoyed it.

Image from the Washington Post

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