StoriesBack to Stories

Dinner with Ambassador Baily

Arshia Badani Photo 2

Above: Arshia with Ambassador Baily and his wife.

By Arshia B., YES Abroad 2016-2017, Macedonia

I chose to study abroad to be able to fully integrate into a new culture and way of life for a full year. Naturally, a profession that has always stuck out to me is one in the Foreign Service, namely, becoming a diplomat. Obviously, you cannot just sign up to be a diplomat, and getting a job in the Foreign Service is very competitive, but regardless, it has always been a dream job of mine. While participating in YES Abroad, I have made the most out of every opportunity I’ve had to talk to people currently working in the field of Foreign Service. Going to an international school in Skopje makes this very easy, as most international students are children of diplomats and have lived and traveled all over the world. Their experiences and backgrounds are all so unique, and I have always found it interesting to hear their stories.

In November, on the morning of the U.S. Presidential election, my fellow American students and I were invited to attend a breakfast at the U.S. Embassy to watch the results be announced. Being surrounded by so many people associated with various embassies was really cool. I was fortunate enough to briefly meet the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Jess Baily, and to speak with diplomats from other countries about their opinions on the election and current events. It was a perfect way to put the State Department’s motto of "exchange our world" into action.

Arshia Badani Photo

A few weeks later, when my host family told me that Ambassador Baily and his family would join us for dinner that Friday, I was surprised and ecstatic. I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On the day of the dinner, I helped prep for our guests by polishing silver, moving furniture, and setting the table. My host mom and dad cooked an amazing meal, which I enjoyed very much. Conversation ranged from serious topics, like government corruption, to more lighthearted stories about school and childhood memories. After dinner, we sat for coffee and ate a delicious pumpkin pie the Ambassador’s wife had made (which reminded me of home, since it was the day after Thanksgiving). We continued conversation and even discussed one of my favorite topics: college football!

Overall, the dinner was an amazing experience. As a student on an exchange funded by the U.S. Department of State, any interaction with the Embassy further enhances my experience. Interacting with the Ambassador in a personal setting and engaging in discussion with him and his family was very enriching, and I am grateful for the opportunity.