American diplomats come from all corners of the United States. For the past 20 years, the Hometown Diplomats Program has encouraged thousands of U.S. Department of State employees, when visiting home, to speak to students and local citizens about their foreign policy work.

“Even though the State Department does a lot, at root, what we do is protect Americans,” says Seth Blaylock, a political officer at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. “That’s what we’re up for.”

Blaylock and five others talk about their respective hometowns and how those places have influenced the work they do around the world.