Important Terminology

New York, United States

On this trip, we will use some acronyms that may be unfamiliar or new to you. Here is a summary of some important terminology that will become familiar to fellow international travelers, especially those that are working with the U.S. Department of State.


  • DOS:  U.S. Department of State
  • ECA:  U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • CAO:  Cultural Affairs Officer of a U.S. Embassy or Post
  • PAO:  Public Affairs Officer
  • FSN: Foreign Service National; a person native to the country where the Embassy or Post is located, who is a permanent member of the staff and therefore often has the contacts and understands the lay of the land better than the American officers who rotate every three years.
  • PAI (Performing Arts Initiative) – a State Department program that provides supplemental funding to US Posts around the world to support tours by U.S. performing arts ensembles 
  • Cultural Envoy Program:  Individual artists are supported for international programs proposed by U.S. overseas posts
  • U.S. Embassy:  America’s official governmental representation in the capital of a foreign country
  • U.S. Post:  a Consulate or American Center located in a secondary city other than the capital. (Note:  Posts can be very helpful and engaged in programming cultural events but they normally have no budget of their own and must seek financial support from the Embassy)
  • M&IE (Meals & Incidental Expenses): The State Department keeps a website that is very handy in budgeting for an upcoming tour.  The website lists the maximum rates permitted by the DOS for hotel and M&IE for every country and most cities.