It makes me smile because one of the most, um, one of the most profound things that might international experiences have had on me is my, um, spiritual growth.
Um, and there were times where I, um, was filled with so much joy and a little bit of guilt that, «Why was I having these amazing experiences?
Will my siblings ever get to, https://homeloansplus.org/payday-loans-sd/ you know, hike this hot air balloon like I did or climb at the top of this mountain or, you know, pray at this beautiful Blue Mosque or, you know, lay, um, you know, see these centuries old, um, uh, ruins from the Greek and Roman times?»
And so I just wanted to share my experiences, you know, with, with my family. Um, and it was a craving for both, you know, um, company and it was a craving thing for a desire to make, uh, my experiences available to others.
When I was in Turkey, uh, on this Fulbright Fellowship, um, we had some State Department officials come and talk to us about careers in international affairs. There was also a meet-and-greet with the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey. Um, and both of those two things together helped me realize, «Huh! So you can live abroad and get paid for it and, you know, learn different languages and not sit in an office? This sounds really cool. Sign me up.»
Um, it sounds perhaps, um, you know, a, a throw away wish, but while I was in Turkey, um, and even though I had a roommate and incredible colleagues with whom I was traveling, um, there were times where I felt very lonely
Um, when I ran across the Pickering Fellowship, um, I, it was ironic because I, I remember knowing or, you know, being familiar with that name. And so as it turns out, um, Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering is, um, not only a Bowdoin alum, also a Fletcher alum and a Fulbright alum. And, um, now is a mentor to me.
And, um, before coming to Jordan, I had the unique opportunities to sit down and interview him. And I’m hoping to publish that, um, interview soon, um, because he had actually been, the, he was ambassador Jordan and here I was a young, um, you know, entry-level foreign service officer going to Jordan as a vice council. So, I wanted to get his thoughts and experiences about his reflection on his journey, um, to become a seven time, you know, uh, dip- uh, ambassador.
I would say that, um, my Exchange experiences, um, have allowed me to, um, understand what it means to be an American more. Um, when I’m abroad. Um, I am cognizant that I only represent a very small part of what the, you know, the American story. I hail from Alexandria, Virginia and I can, you know, speak to my times in, in, in Maine and Boston, but there’s a whole other part of the country that I’m not familiar with.
And so when I have conversations abroad, um, you know, with, with people abroad, I am humbled by my, my own, uh, you know, learning process. I learn often, um, more sometimes from, um, others that have visited the United States and from their experiences. And, um, it’s, it’s, uh, you know, it’s, uh, I feel very proud when I get to paint, um, United States, but also here, um, you know, different views. And so, um, it’s really, really allowed me to redefine over and over again, um, what it means to be an American, um, and what it means to be an American diplomat abroad.