I've never started a hashtag before, though I thought it was clever when friends of mine were crowdsourcing a name for their new pound pup that I suggested the dog be called "Hashtag." In fact, they named her "Pip" which is a much better name, and suits her much better if you ask me.

"Citzen Diplomacy" wasn't even a hashtag when I first thought about it. It was more of a concept: to carry with us, when we travel to another country or even to the farmers' market, a sense of how our actions and attitudes translate when we share them with someone who doesn't know us. Am I representing women well when I speak about them? Does my daughter represent her high school well when she visits other schools? Is my husband a good ambassador of his partners and his law firm when he visits clients or goes to court? Our comportment, our language choices, and kindesses all matter because we are rarely representing just ourselves.

But now I think it should be a hashtag. Imagine #CitizenDiplomacy on an Instagram photo of a young American man as he helps a pregnant woman onto a bus in Rio. Or #CitizenDiplomacy on a Twitter feed when a school group volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, or serves meals after a fire ravages a small town in California. I like to think the Germans who are helping the Syrian refugees by making them feel welcome after such a long, harrowing journey are practicing #CitizenDiplomacy, and they should spread the ethos by talking about it on Facebook.

Citizen Diplomacy as a hashtag is cool, but Citizen Diplomacy as a practice is even cooler. Think about being an ambassador of the place you call home wherever you go, and make the world a kinder, more welcoming place.

#CitizenDiplomacy #Travel #Kindness

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