AMES–Cultivating relationships with foreign countries is rewarding as well as complicated for government officials, fifth grade students and Fellows Elementary School learned this week. There’s a lot at stake when everything from, manners, rules, government systems and religions affect how people interact, conduct business and even become friends. That’s why most governments palce diplomats in foreign countries to help, students learned.

U.S. Embassy Consular Chief Jeffrey Osweiler visited Fellows School, Monday, Nov. 2. as part of The Secretary of State’s Hometown Diplomats Program. According to its website, the program’s mission is to “explain to America what we do and why it matters. We do this by tapping into our best resource: our people.”

The Hometown Diplomats Program helps the U.S. Department of State establish and maintain important relationships with individuals and local communities, its website says. Department employees like Osweiler volunteer their time during trips to their hometown to speak publicly with local organizations and students of all ages and educational backgrounds.

A 1990 graduate of Ames high School, Osweiler has a son and a daughter who are students at Fellows.

Osweiler spent several years in Madagascar along with his wife and children before recently being stationed in Tunisia, he said.

“My family is living in Ames now and this is the first time my children have attended school in the United States,” he said.

It’s safer for his family to be in Ames than in Tunisia, Osweiler said.

“I visit Ames often, especially when the children have days off from school and during holidays and breaks”.

DIPLOMATOsweiler learned that at least half of the students in the Fellows fifth grade had visited or lived in a foreign country.

Based on their diverse experiences, students directed questions to Osweiler about food, customs and currency in foreign countries like Madagascar.

One student asked why his relatives had to wait so long to obtain a visa to come to the United States, giving Osweiler a chance to explain various types of visas and reasons people might have for visiting or relocating to a foreign country.

“There are different types of visas for visitors, refugees and immigrants,” he said, explaining that his department does not manage visas.

Fifth grade teacher Cathy Miller said Osweiler’s presentation will hlep students gain a perspective for their study of government this year.