Introducing Digital Diplomacy to High School Students

In July, I wrote a piece on possibilities for bringing digital diplomacy into the classroom, so this year, I am making it a point to follow through with some of those ideas.  Some times, as teachers, we have really great ideas that we want to try, but once the school year starts, we go into survival mode and forget about how we’re going to transform our classrooms to become the next John Keating.  Due to my interest, however, in digital diplomacy, I have tried hard to actually bring my ideas to fruition.

One of the courses I am teaching this year is The History of US Foreign Policy.  The curriculum for the course begins with the Seven Years’ War and continues up to the present.  Since we’re going to eventually talk about current US foreign policy, one of my goals is to incorporate digital diplomacy and talk about how the US State Department and other diplomats, embassies, and ministries of foreign affairs use social media as a tool.  To give my students a taste of what that might look like, during our unit on the War of 1812, I showed them the following tweet from the British Embassy to the US–

British Embassy Tweet Burning DC

and their follow-up tweet–

British Embassy Apology for Tweet

To formally introduce students to the concept, I am going to give them two handouts- 1) excerpts from Twitter for Diplomats, by Andreas Sandre, who works for the Italian Embassy to the United States, and 2) the “Executive Summary” from Twiplomacy Study 2014.  After reading them, students should be able to explain what digital diplomacy is and the difference between using social media as a tool for information versus a tool for engagement (one-way communication vs two-way communication).

The next step is to show them how digital diplomacy is being discussed today by its practitioners.  First, I plan on telling them about the Stockholm Initiative for Digital Diplomacy.  This is a great example of how states from around the world are coming together to discuss the possibilities on using social media as a tool for diplomacy.  Next, I am going to show them the UK FCO’s website for social media policy, and focus on what they say about why social media matters.  After that, I plan on showing them the video of the G+ Hangout, “Should Leaders Tweet Personally,” hosted by Matthias Lüfkens of Twiplomacy.

Instead of me summarizing here what the participants said about the topic, you can read my brief thoughts on it from an earlier piece, “US Ambassadors to Europe on Twitter.”  I will also show them that there are a handful of other videos about the topic on YouTube, but due to time constraints, I plan on only actually showing the one.

By now, students should understand what digital diplomacy is, so the next step is to show them the magnitude of the social media presence by a few ministries of foreign affairs.  Since we’re here in the US and the course is on US foreign policy, I plan on starting with the State Department’s “Global Social Media Presence.”  The list of channels should give them a good idea of the role social media plays in both spreading US policy and sharing American culture around the globe.  Since I will have shown them the FCO’s website, I’ll follow that up with their site that lists their accounts.  As I mentioned in an earlier piece, “European Ambassadors to the US on Twitter,” I really like how the France MFA, Italian Embassy to the US, and the Netherlands MFA have found different ways of sharing social media with followers; so, I plan on showing those sites as well.  Finally, given the prevalence of Russia in current world news, I plan on showing students the Russian MFA’s site for their social media.  I’m sure that other countries have done some pretty interesting things to showcase their use of social media for digital diplomacy, but as I’ve already mentioned, I do not have the time to go through all of them (if you know of one that I should absolutely add to my list, however, please let me know).  By the end of this part, students will pick a few social media accounts to follow to begin looking at the ways embassies or MFA’s use it.

The final step in all of this is to actually talk with the practitioners themselves.  So far, I have lined up Skype sessions with the following: Graham Lampa of the US State Department, Andreas Sandre of the Italian Embassy to the US, and Lithuania’s Ambassador to the US, Zygimantas Pavilionis.  I have reached out to the US Ambassador to Lithuania, Deborah McCarthy, but I am still waiting to hear back from her.  Once we get closer to our unit on present-day foreign policy, I hope to have a Skype session with the US Mission to NATO.

The big question now is, will it work?  Will students see that social media can be used as an effective tool for information and engagement?  Or, will they see this as an attempt to take away the “fun” from their use of social media?  Will they become more interested in foreign policy, and perhaps even in the world around them?  I’ll let you know once the semester is over.

If you work for an embassy or ministry of foreign affairs and want to reach out to US high school students to teach them about your country and its policies, culture, etc., please click on the “About” tab at the top of the page to see the various ways to contact me.

Thanks for reading.

**You may have noticed that all of the people I plan on talking to and the websites I plan on showing are either from the US or Europe.  Given my passion and strong support for transatlantic relations, I am also using this unit to teach students about the importance of the transatlantic community.

Advertisements

Digital Diplomacy in the Classroom

One of my goals as a teacher is to increase my students’ interest and awareness in global affairs and cultures, as well as break down stereotypes.  I also encourage them to use their knowledge to engage with our leaders and officials by writing letters.  Additionally, I try to show them how social media can be used as an effective tool to engage with others in meaningful ways.  With all of that in mind, I propose that digital diplomacy offers some great opportunities to combine both of those action pieces (using social media to engage with diplomatic officials and leaders).

I’ve used social media in my classroom for the past two years (since I’ve been on Twitter).  Mostly, I’ve used it in the context of giving my students the “dual-screen experience” during political speeches and debates.  I would have them watch the speech/debate on television and follow along on social media.  In class the next day, it gave us an opportunity to discuss both the content of the speech/debate and talk about how the politicians/parties/journalists were trying to frame those events with questions like- What were they tweeting?  How does that shape our conversations about the event?  Who won on social media?

I also developed a unit where my students compared the use of Twitter by politicians and parties in the US and the UK over the same period of time.  After they examined the tweets, they had to score them on whether or not they- 1) were informative, 2) engaged with constituents, and 3) were entertaining (i.e. snark).  To top it off, and to bring in the perspective of somebody from Europe who knows a thing or two about social media in politics, I asked Jon Worth to Skype with my students.  Any time students can engage with an expert in a field, they are going to have a more meaningful learning experience.

This brings me to how we might incorporate digital diplomacy into the classroom.  With most embassies and ambassadors on Twitter or Facebook, there are more opportunities for engagement and learning about other countries and cultures.  Since Facebook is blocked in many schools (mine included), I’m going to focus on Twitter.

First off, teachers would have to find all of those Twitter feeds for their students.  That can be a time-consuming process, and as we all know, teachers do not have loads of time on their hands.  Thankfully, others have already done that work for us.  Diplomacy Matters has created a monthly Twitter Guide with the names of countries, their ambassador to the US, the embassy’s Twitter handle, and the ambassador’s Twitter handle.  Additionally, they put the national days for each country that month on the guide.

Now that we have that information, we need to begin asking how we can use it in the classroom.  Let’s start with the national days from the Diplomacy Matters Twitter Guide.  Students can research the history behind those national days and report back to their classmates.  If it’s during the school year, take some time (it doesn’t have to be a lot of time) to celebrate the national day.  Tweet what they learned and share pictures of the celebration with the embassy.

Another idea is to have students analyze tweets to see how embassies and ambassadors use Twitter.  Do the content of the Tweets differ between the embassy and the ambassador?  Are they using Twitter as an informational tool only, or do they engage with US citizens?  Do we get any sense of their country’s values?  How do their values compare with those of the US?

Teachers can also supplement current events with social media.  Besides the traditional news outlets, what do the embassies/ambassadors say about a given event or topic?  This a great opportunity to teach point of view to students as well because even though countries might be in the same region, they might have different approaches to the same event/topic.  Why might that be?  Let’s use Europe as an example and the events in Ukraine.  Why might tweets coming from the Eastern European embassies differ from those coming from Western European embassies?  What role does history play in shaping current events and policy choices?

Finally, and this is pie-in-the-sky thinking here, but maybe, just maybe, educators could contact embassies to see if they could hold a Twitter chat.  This could be with the ambassador or with embassy personnel, but either way, you’re giving students a way to engage with diplomatic officials to learn about another country and its culture.  The closest I’ve come to this is when my Model UN team visited the Greek Consulate in Chicago during one of our conferences.  They were able to spend about an hour talking with the Consul General, Ioanna Efthymiadou, asking questions about Greece’s foreign policy and its role in the world.  Of course, my students had questions prepared in advance, and to make a Twitter chat flow nicely students would have to do the same.

Model UN team at the Chicago Greek Consulate, February 2013
Model UN team at the Chicago Greek Consulate, February 2013

To close, I see a lot of possibilities to bring digital diplomacy into the classroom.  This is a great way to increase students’ awareness of the world around them and to teach them how to use social media as a tool for engagement.  If you have any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading.

European Ambassadors to the US on Twitter

Since I’ve compiled information on US ambassadors to Europe-Eurasia on Twitter, I thought I should flip it around and see how the European ambassadors to the US fare on Twitter.  I started first at each embassy’s website and then looked for their ambassador.  If there was no direct link to a Twitter account, I then searched the ambassador’s name on Twitter.  Similar to the US ambassador list, the date in parentheses following “Twitter Account” is the date I checked Twitter for their information, NOT the date they were sworn in as ambassador.

Albania Ambassador to the U.S.
Gilbert Galanxhi
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Armenia Ambassador to the U.S.
Tatoul Markarian
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Austria Ambassador to the U.S.
Dr. Hans Peter Manz
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Azerbaijan Ambassador to the U.S.
Elin Suleymanov
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @ElinSuleymanov
Tweets: 900
Following: 328
Followers: 608
Joined Twitter: August 5, 2013

Belarus Ambassador to the U.S.
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Oleg Kravchenko
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Belgium Ambassador to the U.S.
Johan Verbeke
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Bosnia & Herzegovina Ambassador to the U.S.
Jadranka Negodic
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Bulgaria Ambassador to the U.S.
Elena Poptodorova
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Croatia Ambassador to the U.S.
Josip Joško Paro
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Cyprus Ambassador to the U.S.
George Chacalli
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): I found two accounts- @GeorgeChacalli / @gchacalli
Tweets: 35/3
Following: 34/13
Followers: 31/0
Joined Twitter:  May 10, 2012/June 20, 2011

Czech Republic Ambassador to the U.S.
Petr Gandalovič
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Denmark Ambassador to the U.S.
Peter Taksøe-Jensen
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @petertaksoe
Tweets: 508
Following: 230
Followers: 681
Joined Twitter:September 29, 2012

Estonia Ambassador to the U.S.
Marina Kaljurand
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @MarinaKaljurand
Tweets: 0
Following: 70
Followers: 57
Joined Twitter: June 7, 2012

Finland Ambassador to the U.S.
Ritva Koukku-Ronde
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @AmbKoukkuRonde
Tweets: 220
Following: 188
Followers: 453
Joined Twitter: December 12, 2012

France Ambassador to the U.S.
François Delattre
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Georgia Ambassador to the U.S.
Archil Gegeshidze
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Germany Ambassador to the U.S.
Peter Ammon
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Greece Ambassador to the U.S.
Christos P.  Panagopoulos
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @C_Panag
Tweets: 438
Following: 393
Followers: 1,181
Joined Twitter: February 1, 2013

Hungary Ambassador to the U.S.
Dr. György Szapáry
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Iceland Ambassador to the U.S.
Gudmundur A. Stefansson
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Ireland Ambassador to the U.S.
Anne Anderson
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Italy Ambassador to the U.S.
Claudio Bisogniero
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @CBisogniero
Tweets: 5,233
Following: 474
Followers: 5,011
Joined Twitter: March 23, 2013

Kosovo Ambassador to the U.S.
Akan Ismaili
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Latvia Ambassador to the U.S.
Andris Razāns
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @razansandris
Tweets: 184
Following: 110
Followers: 159
Joined Twitter: June 11, 2013

Lithuania Ambassador to the U.S.
Žygimantas Pavilionis
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @ZygisPavilionis
Tweets: 5,064
Following: 5,065
Followers: 5,151
Joined Twitter: September 24, 2012

Luxembourg Ambassador to the U.S.
Jean-Louis Wolzfeld
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Macedonia Ambassador to the U.S.
Zoran Jolevski
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @ZJolevski
Tweets: 240
Following: 166
Followers: 672
Joined Twitter:May 12, 2011

Malta Ambassador to the U.S.
Marisa Micallef
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Moldova Ambassador to the U.S.
Igor Munteanu
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Montenegro Ambassador to the U.S.
Srdjan Darmanovic
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Netherlands Ambassador to the U.S.
Rudolf Bekink
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @RBekink
Tweets: 270
Following: 156
Followers: 1,498
Joined Twitter: March 5, 2012

Norway Ambassador to the U.S.
Kåre R. Aas
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @kareraas
Tweets: 150
Following: 118
Followers: 700
Joined Twitter: September 11, 2013

Poland Ambassador to the U.S.
Ryszard Schnepf
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Portugal Ambassador to the U.S.
Nuno Brito
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Romania Ambassador to the U.S.
Iulian Buga
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Russia Ambassador to the U.S.
Sergey I. Kislyak
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Serbia Ambassador to the U.S.
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Vladimir Jovičić
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Slovakia Ambassador to the U.S.
Peter Kmec
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @peterkmec
Tweets: 23
Following: 51
Followers: 77
Joined Twitter: December 15, 2010

Slovenia Ambassador to the U.S.
Dr. Božo Cerar
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Spain Ambassador to the U.S.
Ramon Gil-Casares
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Sweden Ambassador to the U.S.
Björn Lyrvall
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @bjornly
Tweets: 835
Following: 523
Followers: 1,146
Joined Twitter: May 18, 2010

Switzerland Ambassador to the U.S.
Manuel Sager
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Turkey Ambassador to the U.S.
Namık Tan
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Ukraine Ambassador to the U.S.
Olexander Motsyk
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

United Kingdom Ambassador to the U.S.
Sir Peter Westmacott
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @PeterWestmacott
Tweets: 189
Following: 104
Followers: 3,052
Joined Twitter: February 7, 2013

Holy See Ambassador to the U.S.
Carlo Maria Viganò
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

EU Ambassador to the U.S.
João Vale de Almeida
Twitter Account (as of April 1, 2014): @ValedeAlmeidaEU
Tweets: 1,618
Following: 170
Followers: 4,720
Joined Twitter: February 22, 2012

Findings
First, out of the forty-seven ambassadors from Europe-Eurasia, only sixteen have Twitter accounts.  This surprised me since a lot of the developments in digital diplomacy I’ve seen lately have come from Europe.

Second, I was quite surprised that the ambassadors from Lithuania (Žygimantas Pavilionis) and Italy (Claudio Bisogniero) each had more followers than the ambassador from the EU (João Vale de Almeida).  I don’t know much about Lithuania’s communications team, but I know that one member of Italy’s communications team, Andreas Sandre, has done considerable work in the field of digital diplomacy and participated in the G+ Hangout that led me to look into this information.

Third, France, the Netherlands, and Italy, each have some really cool (and useful) interactive social media sites (even though they may not necessarily focus on the US).  I’ve put links to them in the caption of each image so that you can take a look at the innovative ways they’re using social media.

French Diplomatic Network on Twitter
French Diplomatic Network on Twitter
Social Media Guide- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
Social Media Guide- The Netherlands
Social Media Hub- Italy in the USA
Social Media Hub- Italy in the USA

In an attempt to make this information more useful, I have created a list on Twitter.  Thanks for reading.

U.S. Ambassadors to Europe on Twitter

On March 24, 2014, I participated in a Google+ Hangout hosted by Twiplomacy, the topic of which was, “Should Leaders Tweet Personally?”  It was my first G+ Hangout, and I must admit that I liked it.  One of the points brought up was the difference between the official embassy’s account versus the ambassador’s account and it got me thinking about the extent to which US ambassadors to Europe-Eurasia are on Twitter.

Both Amb. Nicola Clase, Sweden’s ambassador to the UK, and Amb. Tom Fletcher, the UK’s ambassador to Ukraine, spoke about the importance of Twitter as a tool of diplomacy.  Each of them spoke on how Twitter can be used as a way to gather information.  Amb. Clase mentioned that ambassadors can lose out by not being on Twitter.  I was especially impressed with Amb. Fletcher’s remarks.  At one point he argued that, “The greatest risk is not making a mistake on Twitter; it’s not being on there in the first place.”  He went on to use an official reception as an example.  If an ambassador was at a reception, he/she would not just stand silently in corner, nor would he/she stand there and shout their message without talking with others; instead, the ambassador would exchange views with others and engage in conversation.  The same should be true also of an ambassador’s presence on Twitter.  Along those lines, Róisín Traynor, website and social media editor for the Crisis Group, made a distinction between those officials who tweet themselves on a fairly regular basis and those who engage less but do so through Q&A sessions or Twitterchats.  I would hope that US ambassadors, at a minimum, are participating in such sessions.

Methodology
I used the US State Department’s website for embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions to Europe-Eurasia as my starting point to see who the ambassador is, and to see if they had a Twitter account.  If I could not find one on the embassy website, I then went to search Twitter.  The date in parentheses following “Twitter Account” is the date I checked Twitter for their information, NOT the date they were sworn in as ambassador.  Some established their Twitter account before they were sworn in to their current position.  Unfortunately, I do not have the means to obtain Tweet data for just their current post, only the time since their account was set up.  To obtain the date they joined Twitter, I used Twitonomy.

U.S. Ambassador to Albania
Alexander A. Arvizu
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Armenia
John A. Heffern
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @AmbHeffern
Tweets: 5,073
Following: 711
Followers: 3,097
Joined Twitter: February 29, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to Austria
Alexa Wesner
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @alexawesner
Tweets: 188
Following: 104
Followers: 675
Joined Twitter: October 7, 2013

U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan
Richard L. Morningstar
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Belarus
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Ethan A. Goldrich
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Belgium
Denise Bauer
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @DeniseCBauer (locked account)
Tweets: 174
Following: 79
Followers: 40
Joined Twitter: January 20, 2011

U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia & Herzegovina
Charge d’Affaires Nicholas M. Hill
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria
Marcie B. Ries
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @AmbMarcieRies
Tweets: 0
Following: 11
Followers: 27
Joined Twitter: August 27, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to Croatia
Kenneth Merten
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus
John M. Koenig
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @AmbJohnKoenig
Tweets: 62
Following: 70
Followers: 364
Joined Twitter: March 17, 2014

U.S. Ambassador to Czech Republic
Norman L. Eisen
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Denmark
Rufus Gifford
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @rufusgifford
Tweets: 1,553
Following: 446
Followers: 8,275
Joined Twitter: March 22, 2009

U.S. Ambassador to Estonia
Jeff Levine
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @amb_jeff
Tweets: 2
Following: 12
Followers: 77
Joined Twitter: October 9, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to Finland
Bruce J. Oreck
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @helsinkiamb
Tweets: 43
Following: 8
Followers: 1,342
Joined Twitter: November 26, 2009

U.S. Ambassador to France
Charge d’Affaires ad interim Mark Taplin
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia
Richard Norland
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Germany
John B. Emerson
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @JohnBEmo
Tweets: 6
Following: 11
Followers: 118
Joined Twitter: February 4, 2011

U.S. Ambassador to Greece
David D. Pearce
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Hungary
Charge d’Affaires ad interim M. André Goodfriend
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Iceland
Charge d’Affaires ad interim Paul O’Friel
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Ireland
Charge d’Affaires ad interim Stuart Dwyer
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Italy
John R. Phillips
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo
Tracey Ann Jacobson
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @AmbTracey
Tweets: 489
Following: 133
Followers: 4,529
Joined Twitter: April 4, 2013

U.S. Ambassador to Latvia
Mark Pekala
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @AmbMarkPekala
Tweets: 2,577
Following: 388
Followers: 2,178
Joined Twitter: August 7, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania
Deborah McCarthy
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): @AMB_DMcCarthy
Tweets: 861
Following: 349
Followers: 348
Joined Twitter: November 15, 2013

U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg
Robert A. Mandell
Twitter Account (as of March 30, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia
Paul Wohlers
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Malta
Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Moldova
William H. Moser
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro
Sue K. Brown
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Netherlands
Timothy Broas
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @usambnl
Tweets: 10
Following: 35
Followers: 368
Joined Twitter: March 14, 2014

U.S. Ambassador to Norway
Deputy Chief of Mission Julie Furuta-Toy
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Poland
Stephen Mull
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @SteveMullUSA
Tweets: 10.8K
Following: 153
Followers: 15.1K
Joined Twitter: September 27, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to Portugal
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim John Olson
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Romania
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Duane C. Butcher
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @duane_butcher
Tweets: 490
Following: 381
Followers: 75
Joined Twitter: September 30, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to Russia
Deputy Chief of Mission Sheila Gwaltney
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Serbia
Michael D. Kirby
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia
Theodore Sedgwick
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia
Joseph A. Mussomeli
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Spain
James Costos
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @JamesCostos
Tweets: 30
Following: 215
Followers: 212
Joined Twitter: July 1, 2013

U.S. Ambassador to Sweden
Mark F. Brzezinski
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland
Chargé d’Affaires Jeffrey R. Cellars
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey
Francis J. Ricciardone
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Geoffrey R. Pyatt
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @GeoffPyatt
Tweets: 4,953
Following: 529
Followers: 15.3K
Joined Twitter: February 3, 2010

U.S. Ambassador to United Kingdom
Matthew W. Barzun
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): @MatthewBarzun
Tweets: 475
Following: 296
Followers: 4,707
Joined Twitter: March 20, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to Holy See
Ken Hackett
Twitter Account (as of March 31, 2014): None that I could find

Findings
First, I was surprised that while most of the embassies had a link to their Twitter account on the main page, some of them did not have a link for the ambassador’s account, and I had to do a separate Twitter search.  Of course, not even all of the embassies have Twitter accounts.  (For a list of all embassies on Twitter, see the State Department’s website for Global Social Media Presence.)

Second, out of the forty-six ambassadors to Europe-Eurasia, only eighteen have Twitter accounts.  Some of that is due to the fact that the embassies are in a transition waiting for a new ambassador.

Finally, the ambassadors to Ukraine and Poland each had over 15,000 followers.  I suspect that this may be due to recent events.  What surprised me is that the Polish ambassador had over twice as many tweets as his colleague in Ukraine.

In an attempt to make this information more useful, I have created a list on Twitter.  Thanks for reading.

Update, April 1, 2014: I realized that I forgot the information for the US Ambassador to the EU.  Here it is:

U.S. Ambassador to EU
Tony Gardner
Twitter Account (as of April 1, 2014): @USAmbEU
Tweets: 573
Following: 61
Followers: 6,396
Joined Twitter: June 15, 2011 (although I’m not quite sure if this was passed on from the previous ambassador, William Kennard)

The State of the Union, Twitter, and Me

If you go back to one of my first blog pieces, “How I Use Twitter,” you’ll see that I began actively using Twitter to participate in a White House Twitterchat for the 2012 State of the Union.  Over 2,000 Tweets later, I’m still going strong and have enjoyed all of the connections I’ve made along the way.  I’d like to think that I’ve shared some interesting articles and reports in the past two years.  On top of that, I’ve tried to use Twitter to engage with my elected representatives and other political figures.  I’ve even developed a unit on politics and social media for the government class I teach.  Needless to say, I was really excited then when I opened up my email from the White House telling me I’ve been invited to the 2014 State of the Union Social.

The Social is an opportunity for White House “social media followers to join in-person events, engage with administration officials, and share their experience with their friends.”  It’s going to be a quick trip- I fly out Monday and come back Wednesday- but it should be very rewarding.  I’m looking forward to live-tweeting the speech from the White House and participating in the post-speech panels with administration officials.  I think this will be a great way to show my students that social media can be an effective tool and that it can lead to some really awesome opportunities.  Of course, I will also try to see the sights, especially the White House and Capitol, and hopefully the EU Delegation to the US.

If I’m being completely honest, I have to admit that I am a bit nervous about live-tweeting from the White House.  I feel like my Tweets during the SOTU will be under closer scrutiny than they usually are and that people will be judging me more so than they might already.  I’m honored to have been chosen to attend this prestigious event, and I don’t want the White House to feel like they made a poor choice in having me there.  All of my hard work to use Twitter as a professional tool has led to this moment, and I don’t want to waste this opportunity.

I look forward to writing about my trip and tweeting, and I hope that it will lead to some great discussions and even more opportunities to put my passion for history, politics, and social media to use.

Thanks for reading.