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Interview with Hometown Diplomat David Allen: Mission to Russia Paves Way for Allen's Career in Foreign Service

Office of Public Liaison
Bureau of Public Affairs
January 21, 2008


David Allen
Joseph City, Arizona

By Tammy Gray-Searles, Associate Editor
The Tribune-News, Holbrook, AZ

[Reprinted with Permission of Arizona Journal, Holbrook, Arizona granted June 5, 2009]Date: 01/21/2008 Location: Holbrook, AZ Description: From Joseph City to Moscow, Washington, D.C., Uzbekistan and Kiev, David Allen has become the world traveler that many people could only dream of being.  © Photo by Arizona Journal

From Joseph City to Moscow, Washington, D.C., Uzbekistan and Kiev, David Allen has become the world traveler that many people could only dream of being.

David was born in Winslow and grew up in Joseph City. He graduated as a Joseph City Wildcat in 1992, and went on to become a Brigham Young University (BYU) Cougar as he began studies that he thought would lead him to a career as a lawyer.

Partway through his college career, David served a mission in Moscow, where he discovered that not only did he enjo y living in other countries, he was intrigued by the differences in people and politics. During his time in Russia, David witnessed part of the result of the giant political upheaval caused by the cool-lapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.)

“Things were wide open. They were trying to decide what they were going to be,” David remarked.

He explained that although many of the people faced extreme economic hardship, it was also an exciting time as many people experienced their first taste of freedom. David was also one of the early missionaries to travel to Moscow, and explained that to the residents there, an American was an unusual sight.

“Most of them had never met an American. We became kind of a curiosity,” he remarked.

One of David’s most memorable experiences was standing on Red Square, St. Petersburg.

“I had seen it on the news and heard so much about it. I have a strong memory of standing on it, as if standing on a place where so much history had just happened,” he said.

Following his mission, David returned to BYU and realized that he no longer desired a career in law, but one in public service abroad. He ultimately received a master’s in public policy with an emphasis on international relations. He also double-majored in Russian.

When David graduated from BYU in 1999, he received an internship with the State Department in Washington, D.C. He noted that being offered the internship was an honor, as it was highly competitive. During his time as an intern, he worked in threat reduction programs that concentrated on locating and destroying military equipment that remained from the disbandment of the U.S.S.R.

Upon completion of his internship, the State Department offered him a permanent position, and he continued work on threat reduction, then transferred to intelligence and research. He served as an analyst for three years, and then went on to the U.S. Foreign Service.

In the Foreign Service, he received his first long-term overseas assignment. He was sent to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, for two years. David worked as a political officer, dealing with the host government and assisting the U.S. Ambassador. He describes the experience as living in a different world. According to David, no matter what Uzbekistan’s relationship with the U.S. Government, the people were always kind and welcoming.

David had the opportunity to both sit in on high-level meetings and to speak with everyday citizens of Uzbekistan during his time there. He noted that the country is vastly different from the U.S., and that there is an extreme contrast between the poor and the wealthy. He also explained that there are many things he realized he had taken for granted until he lived in Uzbekistan, such as shopping at a grocery store.

David stopped by Joseph City and Holbrook for a short visit in early January, but is preparing for a large move. His new assignment is in Kiev, Ukraine.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he remarked. “I’ve never even visited there.”

David noted that he is enjoying his job and all the different people he has met.

“Every few years I’m doing something new in a new place. It’s the best career I can imagine for myself,” he said.

David also spoke to students at Joseph City High School during his visit.

“I want to let them know the option is there for those interested in doing the same type of thing,” he noted.


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