Washington DC

In the spring of 1982, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington DC admitted me on a probationary basis. This is a graduate school of Johns Hopkins University. After doing well in summer and fall courses, I received a letter from SAIS in January 1983 admitting me to the 1981-82 academic year. I decided to regard this as admission and no one objected when I enrolled full-time. I took out a student loan to attend.

I earned a master's degree in international affairs two years later, divided about equally between economics and politics courses. I enjoyed living in Washington and made a friend at SAIS who was not gay and got to know some neighbors who were. Working on the foreign affairs side of the government was not an option on account of my sexual orientation, though, and the other career options with my degree were mainly in business and economics, which I didn't have the math or the self-confidence to do.

I looked around for a temporary job in Washington and found one as a research assistant in the Smithsonian. I helped the editors of the papers of a nineteenth century American scientist, Joseph Henry. I enjoyed this job not only because it was interesting but because it allowed me to work on my own in different museums and at the Library of Congress. My position was extended from three to six months and then another six months.

On some evenings, I took notes for dialogues and seminars held by the Woodrow Wilson Center, a research institute in the Smithsonian Castle administered by my uncle that brought visiting scholars from this country and abroad to Washington for short periods to do research. After taking some notes at one gathering, the program secretary for history and culture invited me to take notes at six more evening dialogues. This allowed me to sit in on discussions about philosophy and history and meet scholars afterwards. The Wilson Center's development officer, who now runs the Smithsonian radio programs, also let me edit a major conference that took place over one weekend. The Wilson Center and its staff got me excited about learning again. I decided to see if I could get a Ph.D.

Here is a link to the Smithsonian Institution.
Here is a link to the Library of Congress.

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