September 10, 2003 - Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier: Morocco RPCV Stanley Otto went farm boy to diplomat

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Morocco: Peace Corps Morocco : The Peace Corps in Morocco: September 10, 2003 - Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier: Morocco RPCV Stanley Otto went farm boy to diplomat

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Morocco RPCV Stanley Otto went farm boy to diplomat

Morocco RPCV Stanley Otto went farm boy to diplomat

From farm boy to diplomat

By KAREN HEINSELMAN, Courier Staff Writer

READLYN --- As a farm boy growing up outside Readlyn, Stanley Otto once dreamed of having an apartment on the planet Mars. But now that he's seen 80 countries and studied 20 languages, Otto is content to stay earthbound.

Otto may never quench his thirst for knowledge and cultural experiences. Having worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1970s and a foreign service officer since 1984, living overseas has become a way of life for Otto.

"I always wanted to get out and see more," Otto said. "Each time you get out there, you find more you don't know ... the perimeter of what you don't know gets bigger."

The diplomat, married with one son, serves as first secretary for economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

A typical day for Otto may involve briefing congress members and business people on investment opportunities for U.S. firms in Japan. Or, he might bone up on World Trade Organization issues, east Asia relations and free-trade agreements.

"(Diplomats) smooth the way to make the big process work better," said Otto.

Last week, on a trip back to Readlyn, Otto penciled in time to talk with Iowa youths and residents. As part of the State Department's Hometown Diplomats program, Otto hoped to inspire youths to seek out foreign service opportunities.

He spoke at the University of Northern Iowa, East High School, a Wapsi Valley school and in Waverly.

"There are an awful lot of opportunities to get out," Otto told the UNI students.

It's not a matter of being rich, he said, but about doing the research, showing initiative and taking a risk.

Susie Schwieger, associate director of liberal arts and sciences with the UNI Career Center, agreed.

"There's nothing magical about it ... you just have to know the steps," she said. "Students are more and more service-oriented and aware of the world and wanting to make a difference."

Speaking softly and displaying a gentle smile, the man who calls Secretary of State Colin Powell boss related his overseas escapades. He relished teaching high school in the hills of exotic Morocco, getting lost in the labyrinth of its city streets. He waded through the chaos of downtown Tehran, Iran, as the shah left town.

"Luckily, I had a chance to experience revolution," he said with a smile. "Even better, I survived it."

The Harvard and Yale graduate loves feeling the ignorance of a vulnerable foreigner just landed in a new country.

UNI students were encouraged by what they heard.

"I'm an international geek," said UNI student Janet Ramirez of Mexico City. "I like to learn what's going on in the world."

Otto said he's quite comfortable in Japan. He's spent a combined 10 years there.

Still, despite a wealth of experiences, Otto lacks one familiar element: a place that feels like home. His smile suggests he wouldn't have it any other way.

"My sense of home is spread out so far," he said.

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Story Source: Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Morocco; Diplomacy



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