State Department officer, a Manual graduate, talks diplomacy to students

Tim Nwachukwu

On September 26, U.S. State Department officer Chaz Martin visited Manual to speak to social studies classes about topics such as what foreign ministers do, his own most recent adventures, and the importance of foreign policy to the United States.

Martin, a graduate of the duPont Manual class of 1998, said that after graduating from the University of Louisville in 2002, he had no idea what he wanted to do next. At that point, he decided to join the Peace Corps, and was sent to Kazakhstan to teach high school English.

As a graduate of YPAS and participant in his subsequent theatre classes in college, Martin said that his acting experience was what made him so comfortable talking to different people of different cultures.

Students from all of the social studies department during Red 1 listening to Martin

“Look for opportunities to learn how to communicate,” Martin said. “Definitely look for an opportunity to study abroad.”

Martin also discussed his most recent trip, which was a two-year stay in Tajikistan, showing students slides of photos of the people, culture, and scenery of the countryside near the border of Afghanistan. Going to Tajikistan, he said, was his favorite trip, aside from his first trip to Russia.

“I really loved going to Tajikistan because it’s such a fascinating, unexplored place,” he said.

In a moment of reflection, Martin explained the process of becoming an employee of the State Department and how it compared to other countries’ foreign ministries.

“When I had applied for the position, there was one exam that anyone could take,” Martin said. “It’s a very open process where you’re graded on your abilities to work in a group. It’s very similar to Future Problem Solvers.”

He also said that the open nature of the process of becoming a State Department employee in the United States was more satisfying and more helpful in terms of United States foreign policy than these processes in other countries.

“There are many other foreign ministries based on connections,” he says. “Our system allows for a wider spectrum of employees that is much more egalitarian.”

Though born and raised in Louisville, Ky., Martin is preparing for another trip abroad with his wife. This time, his destination is Afghanistan for a total of five years.

“I feel like it’s my responsibility to make my contribution to the region,” he said. “I feel that Afghanistan is really important to Tajik and American foreign policy.” However, despite his travel plans, Martin still hopes to eventually settle down in Louisville, preferably around where he grew up.

Before leaving the session with the students, Martin urged them to always find ways to diversify themselves while still in high school.

“Look for ways to engage with people of different cultures, both inside and outside of Manual,” he said.