Foreign Born Spouses Group

Since its inception in 1980, AAFSW’s Foreign Born Spouse Group (FBS) has built connections, provided support and offered a wide range of social and cultural activities for Washington, DC area members. The FBS Group is a lifeline for spouses and partners from other cultures — and non-foreign-born spouses are also welcome at their fun and fabulous activities.

Sheila Switzer (2021) [ADST interview][Speech audio recording] Transcript file from, p. 4

Because all of us are under the protective umbrella of the Mission, and we know that if we have any kind of problems, we can go to the staff and ask for help or have somebody from the Embassy to help us. In other words, we know that we are all foreign in the host country, which puts us in the same position and at the same level. I believe it is easier to be in a third country than in the United States, because our spouses say, “Well! we’re back home” when he is reassigned to Washington. But for us, it’s not home, it’s another foreign post and, for many foreign-born spouses, the most difficult one.
Yes, the lack of support. Here, like I said, the foreign-born spouses don’t have the same kind of support from the community that helps you to get involved, and encourages you to participate in many activities. We do not get invitations like we do overseas; here, we’re on our own. And that is why some of the foreign-born spouses stay in their house; it’s like a shell, they go in and they don’t come out. That is our biggest problem that we encounter with the foreign-born spouses — the lack of self-confidence to go out. Some are not able to call us for help. Especially if they are in trouble. That’s why it is difficult for us to reach some of the foreign-born spouses as we don’t know that they are in the United States. And if their spouses do not get in touch with us, their wives are not going to call us. If they don’t speak the language, then they are afraid to meet others.

Sheila Switzer

AAFSW Newsletter – May 1983


AAFSW Newsletter – November 1985


The FBS Group was formed 25 years ago by Mrs. Nancy Asencio, a native of Cuba and wife of now retired Ambassador Diego Asencio. She realized that the many women from different countries married to U.S. Foreign Service men needed an informal organization where they could meet and voice their concerns about living in the United States, a foreign land and culture to them.

Global Link – Summer 2005, p. 2

AAFSW Newsletter – Summer 2005