A year and a half ago I attended this program with the Middle East being the topic for that particular week. Looking back now (November 2019), I have a better framework to understand the mission of the representatives of the US State Department as I watch the Impeachment hearings. These diplomats and other staff personnel strive to present the interests of the US as well as assist individual American citizens abroad, sometimes putting themselves at some kind of risk. During this program we heard from many accomplished and dedicated retired State Department personnel. Most, if not all of them, expressed great concern and less than optimistic predictions about the future of the State Department. I would love to return for another round of this program and to hear what observations these Civil Servants have now. I highly recommend this program although you have to be a patient "sitter" since there is minimal activity during the five days.