First things first: tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised on the intracoastal waterways and sea islands of South Carolina. As a military dependent, I had the opportunity to visit many parts of the U.S. and ultimately attended high school in Okinawa, Japan. After finishing up high school back in the states, I attended Ball State University (Chirp Chirp!) in East Central Indiana, where my father hails from, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins still live. At BSU, I studied Japanese, Anthropology, and Linguistics which prepared me for my next endeavor of teaching English as a second language in Japan. After several years away, I returned to the Hoosier State and married my college sweetheart and eventually settled in the City of Fishers where we are raising our 2 young girls.
What drew you to your role at The International Center?
When I was still in college and many years before moving to Indianapolis, I wrote to my girlfriend (now wife) that my dream job entailed the opportunity to welcome international visitors to their new home and community and help them to become acclimated through an orientation program and cultural understanding. At the time I had no idea if such a position even existed. So, it came as a bit of a surprise when my wife’s colleague forwarded the job description for a Relocation Specialist at The International Center that was an exact fit. Over the past 12 years at The Center my role has evolved, but I am still living the dream.
What is your favorite aspect of your role?
The opportunity to work with partners from all sectors of the community and State on projects that welcome visitors, dignitaries, and officials from all parts of the world continues to be the most enjoyable aspect of my work as a Protocol Officer. Every day is different and presents a new learning opportunity and test my knowledge of intercultural relations.
If you have traveled or lived abroad, which location was the most impactful on your life? Why?
My great grandmother was a school teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Kentucky but found a way to travel the world and instilled an importance for education and travel in her family. So, my grandmother took each of her grandkids on an international education trip to see different parts of the world. When I was twelve years old, I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks traveling throughout Europe with family. Because of this experience, I feel that I have gone through life up to this point with a worldlier view and look forward to exposing the future generations of my family to similar experiences.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am an avid runner and running coach. I have run continuously for over 24 hours at a time and regularly run ultramarathons of 50 miles or more. For the past 4 years, on my birthday I have run my age in miles to celebrate life and commemorate my brother.
Speed round (answer with only one word):
- Favorite food: Ramen
- Favorite country you’ve visited or lived: Czech Republic
- Language you’d love to learn: Chinese
- Favorite IC brand color (orange, blue, green, yellow): Orange
- Social media handle: @peterkirkwood @locobrorunning
Profile completed by Peter Kirkwood, Protocol Officer