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April 22, 2016
Life can sometimes be unpredictable in the Foreign Service. Serving as a development officer may perhaps be even more unpredictable, since one often confronts unique challenges in distinct parts of the world. Many who are called to public service have a passion for change and improvement; they embark on a path unlike any other.
The United States sends men and women across the world to serve in diplomacy, trade, humanitarian aid, and development projects. During the 1970s and 1980s, the United States invested more resources in Latin America; Central America was a prime example—Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala. Much of this investment was dedicated to infrastructure development for national governments, and its success depended on the efforts of dedicated public servants.
Henry “Hank” Weiss was one such person—a man of faith and service. He defines his life in five words: “Coincidence is God acting anonymously.” Life brings strange consequences to situations unimaginable. In this “moment” in U.S. diplomatic history, we see that Hank Weiss learned from his many years overseas—from Latin America to Africa to Eastern Europe—that it absolutely takes a village to raise a child. Weiss, with strong faith and the support of friends, worked with USAID, the Peace Corps, and the Department of State, and sought to make a lasting contribution in the countries where he served.
Weiss explains that working for developmental projects in over forty countries brought a certain element of unpredictability into his life. At retirement, the significance of his twenty-seven-year career abroad is filled with wisdom, culture, adventure, and unpredictability. His view on the world, as well as life, can perhaps help redefine our outlook on service.
Henry Weiss’ interview was conducted by Mark Tauber on August 12, 2019.
Read Weiss’ full oral history at https://www.adst.org/OH%20TOCs/Weiss.Henry.pdf?_ga=2.206352723.1112115470.1600647313-864600630.1590266161.
(Drafted by Derek Gutierrez)
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