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First Assignment—Thailand During the Vietnam War

Harlan Lee first became a foreign service officer in 1968 during the Vietnam War, and he was immediately dispatched to an active hotspot. Knowing he would be sent to Southeast Asia, Lee prepared himself for his first position as vice consul in Udorn, Thailand. Like many foreign service officers on their first assignment, he had […]

Rivalry in the Southeast: Preah Vihear Temple Dispute Between Cambodia and Thailand

Foreign Service Officer Thomas Donohue served in both continental and archipelagic Southeast Asia during a tumultuous period in which countries in the region and other parts of the globe were breaking away from European colonial powers. He witnessed first-hand the complex relations among regional countries. During his assignment in Cambodia from 1962 to 1964, both […]

The Queen of Thailand Deep in the Heart of Texas

There are many hallmarks of a good diplomat — the ability to understand foreign cultures, communications skills, flexibility, the ability to think on one’s feet. One usually thinks of such skills being used in negotiations on peace accords or bilateral treaties and not with what amounts to a high-level sales trip to Nieman Marcus. However, […]

The Rocky Beginnings of the U.S.-ASEAN Relationship

What does the beginning of a diplomatic partnership look like? Though the image that comes to ​​​​mind is elegant diplomacy, crisp photo-ops, and a complete alignment of mutual positions, the real work of foreign service officers is rarely so neat. In 1977 and 1978, the United States had its first meetings with the Association of […]

Peace Corps to Ambassador: Frank Almaguer in Honduras

Prior to a long career at USAID, Frank Almaguer first gained experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in British Honduras (Belize). But he continued to work with the Peace Corps even as a Foreign Service Officer, returning to British Honduras and then neighboring Honduras as a staff member in charge of training volunteers. His years […]