Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Arthur L. Lowrie
The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
ARTHUR L. LOWRIE
Interviewed by: Patricia Lessard and Theodore Lowrie
Initial interview date: December 23, 1989
Copyright 1998 ADST
Q: Mr. Lowrie how did you get interested in the Foreign Service, and then how did you subsequently enter the Foreign Service?
LOWRIE: Mine was a typical American Foreign Service story. As a young man I had the wanderlust of the small-town American upbringing. I left college in the middle of my junior year and enlisted in the Air Force, primarily because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn't even know what I wanted to major in. I was majoring in English literature at the time. That was during the Korean War and I spent four years in the Air Force as an enlisted man. I served eighteen months in Libya—my first experience with anything remotely connected to the Middle East. I also was able to take two trips to Europe and learn a little bit about living abroad. While I was in Tripoli I started going to the University of Maryland night school taking Italian and International Relations. I decided shortly thereafter that a Foreign Service career was going to be my goal. When I got out of the Air Force I returned to Allegheny College and picked up enough credits so that I could finish in one year. I also won a fellowship for a graduating senior interested in pursuing a career in foreign affairs. So with that fellowship, plus my GI Bill, I was off to Europe, spent three months in France in Tours then I went to the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva for one year where I studied under Jacques Freymond and other European professors.
On my way to France back in July of 1955, I had taken the Foreign Service exam at the Embassy in London. The Foreign Service was really opening up at that time and the written and the oral exams were being given at selected embassies abroad. I learned during the academic year that I had squeaked through the written exam and that the oral panel would be in the Embassy in Rome. I went to Rome in the Spring of 1956 and took my oral exam. At the end of the Summer I learned that I had been accepted into the Foreign Service and I dropped any idea of further graduate study and went right into the Service in September 1956.
Q: Would you talk about your early posts and your career at that time and anything of historical interest.