Iranian Seizure of an American Vessel, 1986

In 1986 I was the vice-consul at the American Consulate General in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was my first assignment in the U.S. Foreign Service. My main responsibilities were providing a variety of citizen services to the American community, which numbered...

African Charm

Some villagers brought medications with instructions in English, Russian, French or German. They could read none of these languages, so I translated them as best I could. For the Russian medicines, I would tell them that—like them—I couldn’t read these labels. Others...

Suddenly Sundered: HIV and the Foreign Service

“How soon can you get out of Canada?” asked the administrative officer at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto in October 1995 when I was informed that my application for disability retirement—due to my advanced HIV/AIDS—had been approved. “What?” I asked. “Now that you’re...

Finding the Sacred Rhythms

Visiting three islands of Hawaii (Oahu, The Big Island, and Maui) leaves one with a mixed sense of how the sacred rhythms are honored in this historic place. On Oahu, my visit to Pearl Harbor was tranquil and sobering. Realizing that 1,177 sailors and marines lay...

Resilience in the Face of Nature’s Challenges

Visiting Iceland leaves one with a feeling of awe at the incredible resilience of theIcelanders. The country is populated with volcanoes in every region of the country, manyof which have exploded in the last few decades. (In 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcanoerupted,...