The Foreign Service Journal, May 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2024 59 Worldwide: New Customs JUDY CHIDESTER I joined the Foreign Service in 1960 at the age of 21. I loved it from the minute I arrived in Washington, D.C., and throughout my 35-year career. What makes me FS Proud is not any particularly significant diplomatic event but the fact that I did my job, first as a cryptographer and later as an information management officer, knowing that I represented the United States wherever I lived. I made myself aware of any differences in culture at every post and made every effort to honor the host country’s ways. I worked long hours and worked hard, knowing that the way I did my job could affect the opinion citizens of my host country might have of the United States and the Foreign Service. Along with this I enjoyed mightily learning of these various customs and meeting the people who lived there. It was such a wonderful career, with opportunities for training between tours so that I never felt stagnated. Latin America and the Caribbean: Clean Water and Paved Roads SONNY LOW I worked at USAID’s Office of Housing and Urban Programs, helping manage the design and implementation of the agency’s housing guaranty loans and technical assistance. The loan program enabled countries benefiting from USAID foreign assistance to borrow from U.S. banks at commercial interest rates—like any of us seeking a 30-year mortgage to buy a house in the U.S. The U.S. dollar loans are backed by a U.S. government guarantee, ensuring the borrowing country will not default on them. Loan recipient countries use this money to engage in international business. At the same time, the dollars acquired are converted into the country’s local currency, financing housing projects and improvement of infrastructure services such as connecting potable water to homes and paving streets in low-income neighborhoods. Families served by these programs pay back the local institution that loaned the money for their new homes or improved neighborhood services. I was proud to be part of this program. During my 26-year career with USAID, thousands of affordable houses were built, and hundreds of neighborhoods received potable water and paved streets in Honduras, Ecuador, Chile, El Salvador, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Peru, Panama, Paraguay, Mexico, and Guatemala. Japan: Hole in the Ozone Layer WILLIAM MCPHERSON I was posted to Japan as an environment, science, and technology officer, from 1986 to 1987, when the Montreal Protocol was negotiated. There was resistance from Japanese industry, but when the British chemist Bob Watson presented his findings on the hole in the ozone layer, that resistance melted away. I am proud of the role of the Foreign Service in providing the scientific basis for negotiations on environmental agreements. We may not be the experts, but we have the ability to identify people like Bob Watson and arrange for them to share their work with foreign governments at the optimal level and timing. Worldwide: Proud of Our Local Staff DALE GIOVENGO Our mission, ultimately, is to make the United States and its citizens safer and more secure. We do this in many ways: economically, militarily, culturally, and, of course, diplomatically. I served in five posts in various roles, as both an officer and a specialist. At every post, I relied heavily on, and was always impressed with, our locally employed staff. I am most proud of them and the way the department includes these folks in our mission and as an extension of our culture. They remain at post when we move on and are our best representatives, doing outreach wherever we are located. Romania: Unexpected Thanks JONATHAN B. RICKERT Through a series of happenstances, I spent about a third of my Foreign Service career in various roles in or dealing with Romania. I participated, with many others, in Romania’s evolution from communist dictatorship to emerging democracy and staunch NATO and European Union member. Therefore, it was particularly gratifying when, at the termination of my second Bucharest assignment in 1995, Foreign