Friday, April 1, 2016

Easy Money for Cruisers
By Michael
VAVA'U, TONGA

Sorry, no pictures this post, I just want to share a gift from the Federal government.

Late last year, Windy and I joined the U.S. State Department’s Junior Diplomat Program (JDP). This is the greatest thing since roller furling--and they’re looking for more cruisers to participate. In addition to a stipend each month ($230, or $115 times two) for our participation, the State Department reimburses any additional costs we incur to obtain Internet access for reporting purposes.

According to the State Department website, the JDP seeks to, “leverage and promote goodwill by U.S. citizens abroad, obtain information that can be used to help resident, in-country ambassadors allocate funding to improve relations, and better understand foreign nationals’ perceptions of the United States from a man-in-the-street point of view.”

We simply complete a form each month online, kind of like a survey. After the basics (where we traveled during the month) we check off the types of interactions we had with foreign nationals (retail, restaurant, hotel, other) and then provide a few details about select interactions.
For example, in the notes section of the report we submitted in December, I reported that I talked to a Tongan welder about the U.S. political race and how folks in the U.S. are pretty divided. I indicated that the welder agreed with my assessment and seemed to dislike Donald Trump. Yesterday I received feedback from a State Department employee indicating this is a perfect example of the kind of anecdotal accounts they are looking for. They said the few junior diplomats they have enrolled today who travel the world on boats are prized because, “they tend to have interactions with people and businesses that are very different from those experienced by casual, short-term travelers.” He urged me to spread the word.

So, I’m letting you all know. Click to access the U.S. State Department Junior Diplomat Program (JDP) Enrollment Form and to get more information. Participant counts are restricted by region, so hurry! (And please forward to others who may be interested...)
--MR

7 comments:

  1. Not falling for it, Michael! I know you too well!!!

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  2. PS: Any Lady Gaga sightings in Tonga?

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  3. Now you're both "secret" agents.... Do you have to re-register every April 1st?

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  4. Oh that was pretty good. It actually sounded plausable, although really generous!

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  5. As the most gullible person in the world, let me be on the record of hating April Fool's Day. Especially when I read these types of posts AFTER 4/1! :-) I was literally getting ready to forward this link to my dad. They're out cruising and are currently in Brisbane. Fortunately, I read the comments before looking like an idiot. ;-)

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  6. Blasted!!!! Apparently my middle name is gullible

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