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Second nature: life after the foreign service.

The Foreign Service Retiree Association of Florida, with approximately 800 members, is the largest such group in the country. Many of its members settled in the Sarasota-Bradenton area because of its cultural attractions and active international organizations.

Among the latter are the local chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States, Sister Cities International, Rotary, the Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning, the U.N. Fund for Women and several internationally oriented social and political organizations.

Like others, I found life in sunny Sarasota as a retired Foreign Service administrative officer to be a good place to stay active in international issues. My first involvement was as a board member of the Foreign Service Retirees Association. Later, I joined the Sarasota Opera Guild and performed at senior nursing homes. In 1999, I became a board member of the Sarasota-Manatee Chapter of UNA-USA and began introducing initiatives to help the association carry out its mission to enhance U.S. support of the U.N.

Our chapter initiated several major projects, beginning with a successful drive to raise funds to remove landmines from Croatia. Next was a presentation of a film on the life of Dr. Ralph Bunche, followed by a fundraiser to support the chapter's high school Model U.N. programs. Then, for U.N. Day in 2000, I proposed that our chapter organize a Model U.N. Security Council debate, with local community leaders, college presidents and professors, Foreign Service retirees and college students role-playing delegates to UNSC. The Model UNSC has since become an annual U.N. Day event in Sarasota-Bradenton. Our monthly meetings feature speakers who address U.N. and other international issues.

The chapter's current international project is Adopt-a-School for Girls in Liberia, an effort to support that country's newly elected female president, Madam Johnson Sirleaf, in her efforts to rebuild Liberia's education system. The project relates to the U.N.'s eight Millennium Goals adopted by 189 U.N. member states, including the U.S., to eliminate poverty and hunger in developing countries by 2015. The project is targeted on promoting gender equality, empowering women and girls and developing global partnerships for development projects. Two local organizations, the U.N. Fund for Women and Sister Cities, have joined us in promoting the Liberian project, and we have plans to link Sarasota to a sister city in Liberia.

The chapter's board decided to encourage the creation of an affiliate organization, Young Professionals for International Cooperation, ages 20-40, which was formed in November 2005. YPIC organized the Model UNSC on U.N. Day in 2006 and is planning an international career seminar.

The membership of our UNA-USA chapter includes retirees from the Foreign Service and other international careers who remain active in local civic and service work. Dr. Daniel Luu, a former senior advisor on population studies at the U.N., is a former president of the Sarasota-Manatee UNA-USA chapter and president of the Florida UNA-USA division. He initiated and led six annual high school Model U.N. programs.

Retired FSO Paul Byrnes is serving his second stint as president of the Florida FS Retirees Association, is a former president of our UNA-USA chapter and was assistant secretary general with the World Tourism Organization before retirement. Since retiring from the Foreign Service in 1991 and moving to Florida, Wade Matthews has been president of our chapter, an enthusiastic participant in the Model UNSC debates, a member of the Liberian project and a frequent speaker. In his spare time, he is conservation chair of the local Audubon Society and has identified 1,802 species of birds around the world.

Retired ambassador Ken Hill, who participated in his first Model UNSC in 2003, is now the chapter's vice president for programs, a frequent speaker at meetings and a member of the SILL board. Retired ambassador Shirley Barnes has participated in our programs, including launching her debate in the Model UNSC in French. Retired ambassador Don Leidel is a member of the chapter board, lectures on global issues throughout the area, has taken part in the Model U.N. series and is a member of the SILL board. Retired ambassador Joseph Segars is a member of the chapter's board, a program participant and an avid golfer who manages to get in two rounds each week.

Yes, you can still share world experiences and remain active in international affairs after you retire.

The author is chapter president of the United Nations Association of the United States.
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Author:Watson, Dorothy L.
Publication:State Magazine
Article Type:Organization overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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