Returning to Phillips Academy to take part in the school’s 225th Anniversary celebration this weekend, former President of the Peace Corps Dane Smith ’58 reflects on his life as the campus reflects on its own. Looking back on his career, Mr. Smith observed,“As an American diplomat, I worked primarily to promote U.S. policies in Africa, to expand democracy and the protection of human rights, to resolve external and internal conflicts, and to promote economic growth.” Dane Farnsworth Smith, Jr., originally from Alberquerque, New Mexico, enrolled at Andover as a Lower in 1955. He lived in Paul Revere and quickly adapted to school life. “I recall with particular pleasure the bird sanctuary in the spring, football weekends, and Andover’s fine French program,” Mr. Smith said. He immediately became an honors student and joined the school’s rifle club. Mr. Smith became more involved with the school as an Upper, joining the Pot Pourri editorial board, the Junior Varsity Basketball team, and the French Club. He was also a member of the Phillips Society, which worked to enhance Andover with groups such as the Social Functions Committee and the Community Service Committee. In his Senior year, Mr. Smith became the executive editor of the Pot Pourri. He also played an active role in Chorus, the Spanish Club, and the Blue Key Society. In the fall of 1958, Mr. Smith enrolled at Harvard College. After graduation, he attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he earned a doctorate degree in International Relations. He then studied briefly at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. In 1963, he and his wife, Judy, volunteered with the Peace Corps in Eritrea, then a part of Ethiopia. According to Mr. Smith, he volunteered because, “[he] was responding to President Kennedy’s call, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’” He added that the “lure of adventure in Africa” also enticed him. The mission of his group was to impart the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention and girls’ education to the locals. After his volunteer term in Eritrea ended in 1965, he then received assignments in Pakistan and Liberia. Mr. Smith then took a break from the Peace Corps to join the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, which carries out U.S. foreign economic policy. In 1984, Mr. Smith became the Peace Corps’ Deputy Chief of Mission in Botswana, and in 1986 became Deputy Chief of Mission in Sudan. From 1990-1993, Mr. Smith served as the U.S. ambassador to Guinea, and from 1996-1999 as the ambassador to Senegal. Serving as an American ambassador “was a great privilege and very satisfying,” he said. “I particularly enjoyed working with the Guineans and Senegalese on improving their election processes.” His primary focus in Senegal was ending the civil war in neighboring Guinea-Bissau. In 1995, Mr. Smith was appointed Special Presidential Envoy to Liberia. His major achievement as Special Envoy was ending the Liberian civil war in the mid-1990’s. In 1999, Mr. Smith became the president of the National Peace Corps Association, a private organization of Peace Corps alumni. He recently retired in January. Mr. Smith encouraged Andover students to consider joining the Peace Corps once they had finished college: “The Peace Corps is needed now more than ever to show the face of American friendship and service to the peoples of developing countries.”
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