CNN Poznan: The FSO’s wives and partners tell their stories

Editor’s Note: CNN’s global correspondent Jon Williams has covered the US State Department for more than 20 years, and produced six episodes for CNN Poznan and produced two series for CNN International. Commentary, written…

CNN Poznan: The FSO's wives and partners tell their stories

Editor’s Note: CNN’s global correspondent Jon Williams has covered the US State Department for more than 20 years, and produced six episodes for CNN Poznan and produced two series for CNN International.

Commentary, written by Kathryn Jackson, CNN Expert

In the midst of a contentious campaign, there are heated debates about how the United States should improve its image abroad. Yet nowhere are those discussions as passionately held as when discussing the hard reality of what it’s like for new State Department employees to join their careers in the current administration.

Listen to this video segment from the #CNNPol pod:

Read the full post on CNN.com

Over the past couple of months, CNN Poznan has interviewed families of US Foreign Service officers (FSOs) who are new to the job. We’ve shed light on the stresses they face as they prepare for a highly anticipated career but also face uncertainty, workplace tension and recurring disappointments from their families.

Our conclusions? One major worry when starting your first Foreign Service job is that you’ll be away from your family long enough to realize that being apart feels more like being apart than together.

The core family bond and connection is often at risk when you’re away. You work and live far from home for many years, and it’s hard to get to know your family on a daily basis. We’ve heard from several staff whose families have separated themselves from their coworkers by marrying close friends and setting up housekeeping far from their new spouses.

CNN’s Sanjay Gupta is interested in how you can cover your family while deployed or living away.

In interviews with the wives and partners of FSOs, we saw how even talking about why their spouses are serving with the US State Department can be painful for them.

Language might be a concern, since FSOs deploy to parts of the world where English is not the first language. We’ve interviewed couples who have each different personal experiences as to how they learn to communicate.

Beyond language issues, some FSO wives are up against the challenge of adjusting to new diets, settings and routines in a new city and a new place of work.

The Foreign Service seems like a powerful career — but the reality can be quite stressful. It can be even more stressful if your spouse is going through a high-stress stressful time. Watch this clip from the #CNNPol pod to find out more:

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