Foreign service officer returns to his alma mater

March 19, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Paul Neville has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He has dined with foreign dignitaries and spoken in front of captive crowds.

His audience on March 11, though, was a class full of students, in a building that Neville holds dear to his heart.

Contributed Liberty High School graduate Paul Neville (center) gives a speech at a cultural exchange presentation in the form of a fashion show in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on July 4, 2012.

Contributed
Liberty High School graduate Paul Neville (center) gives a speech at a cultural exchange presentation in the form of a fashion show in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on July 4, 2012.

Almost 20 years after he graduated from Liberty High School, Neville returned to his alma mater to talk about his experience working as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State.

“I wanted to tell the next generation about the incredible experiences of living, working and volunteering overseas,” he said. “Plus, I’m a Liberty Patriot forever, so it was great to come back.”

In an hourlong presentation, Neville showed the class photos from his travels abroad to places such as Vietnam, Tajikistan and Thailand.

His message to the 30 students sitting in the Advanced Placement French class was a simple one — Don’t be afraid to expand your horizons.

“It’s OK to get to know the world outside of what you know now,” he said. “You can always come back home, because it is a great place to live and grow up around here, but I would definitely encourage you to go and explore the world.”

Neville had recently returned from Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he served an assignment as a political and economic officer at the U.S. Consulate General.

In that position, Neville monitored political and economic trends in the country and provided written reports of information and analysis to his superiors.

As a Liberty student, Neville said he did not immediately know he was destined for a life full of global experiences; that passion came later when he joined the Peace Corps after graduating from the University of Washington.

Liberty did represent an important part in getting him where he is today, though, Neville said.

“Liberty was an excellent educational foundation and the support that came from the staff was amazing,” he said. “They encouraged us to follow our dreams, and that’s what I did.”

Sarah Duran, Liberty’s AP French teacher, said the visit was beneficial for her students, many of whom expressed a greater interest in traveling after Neville’s visit.

“In our world language classes, we are always trying to encourage our kids to think with a global perspective and to explore the world around them,” she said. “Having a Liberty graduate that has done this was truly an inspirational experience for the students.”

Liberty Principal Josh Almy, who sat in on a portion of the presentation, said Neville was a prime example of the amazing accomplishments of which Liberty grads are capable.

“We look forward to Liberty graduates, like Mr. Neville, continuing to come back and share their stories with Liberty students, and inspiring them to excel in fields that give back to the greater good,” he said.

Just days after his visit, Neville traveled to Washington, D.C., to begin preparations for his next assignment. In August, he will move to Tijuana, Mexico, where he will work as a consular officer.

In that role, Neville will help Mexican citizens obtain visas and assist American citizens who may be traveling in Mexico.

“It’s all about the adventure of living in a different culture and learning about new places, meeting new people and eating new food,” he said. “It’s also great knowing that I’m serving my country and helping make it a more secure and prosperous place.”

 

 

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