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Living A Life In Full

Oct 1, 2021

Allan "Alonzo" Wind is a former Senior Foreign Service Officer from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) having worked on diplomatic assignments in Peru, Nicaragua, Angola, Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan and South Africa. He provided oversight to U.S. government foreign aid development and humanitarian assistance, and supported U.S. Ambassadors as their senior development officer on multiple U.S. Embassy Country-Teams.

In South Africa, he helped establish the Southern Africa Regional Leadership Center as part of President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative, and contributed to other youth development efforts and business incubators.

In Alonzo’s diplomatic work, he has been shot at, arrested and jailed, teargassed, threatened, almost died in the jungle, and been in a number of other dangerous situations that include a terrorist car bombing in Peru and an expulsion order in Bolivia. All of these experiences and adventures are examined in Andean Adventures: An Unexpected Search for Meaning, Purpose and Discovery Across Three Countries an Amazon best-seller, and we cover a number of them in our episode.

We also discuss the personal aspects of raising a family overseas and being away when working in hot-spots. We discussed his thoughts as to the Peace Corps’ value in the world, and what it means to him. Alonzo talked about his early days in Common Cause with Rahm Emanuel in Chicago and what he sees as the qualities that someone needs in order to be successful in the world of development and international service, and his thoughts on ways to encourage more young people to consider becoming involved in national service.

Alonzo discussed how development organizations like USAID can better ensure a more cohesive, “human-centered development” approach and the semi-controversial concept of self-reliance in the development space. He noted some of the ways that development actors can better ensure that all voices are heard and he share his thoughts as to my questions about what seems to be a more isolationist or jingoistic US perspective these days, than a decade ago and why it is Americans should care about what is happening overseas. He also opined as to the importance of modern foreign aid and what changes he’d like to see.

I felt a certain kinship in the overlapping areas of our work over the years, over the world, and sharing many friends—he is indeed a veritable Kevin Bacon of humanitarian intervention and development sphere. It’s a great conversation not to be missed.