Spaulding, Wallace - Oral History Interview
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Wally SAIS to be one of the better schools he applied to of those that were International Relations and they gave him a full scholarship, which tipped the scales in their favor. This is what originally brought him to SAIS. He had also applied to Fletcher and CEPA. While at SAIS, he remembers that most of them lived at 19th and Florida and it felt, to him, like a private boarding school as they all lived together in that dorm area. They knew each other fairly well…had their meals together and it felt self-contained. He also remembers that they could take a cab full of five people down to the Library of Congress and split the expense four or five ways. He also remembers hanging out at the nearby shopping area on Connecticut Avenue and remembers going to a restaurant in that area that had an Irish name, a Greek cook and a Filipino orchestra on Saturday nights. He had come from UC Berkley in California and the classes were different at SAIS. He enjoyed specializing in the Far East and recalls Professor Linebarger with whom he continued to stay in touch until he died. Unfortunately, his other favorite professor committed suicide. On a separate note, he also appreciates having had experience with research and being able to absorb a lot of content while he was at SAIS. About 10 or 12 years later, he went back and got a Doctorate at the U Penn in another area (South Asia) which complimented the work he had done around South East Asia at SAIS. Prior to his work at Penn, he had also spent his undergraduate years at Berkley, spent the summer after that in the Infantry at Fort Benning for a change of pace, came to SAIS, and then received a Fulbright after graduating from SAIS and spent a year in the Philippines, working for the CIA, which is where he ended up working for 39. Incidentally, he travelled to and from the Philippines by freighter, across the oceans. Throughout his career, he got to 85 countries, not always for work. He appreciates having gotten to see a good deal of the world. He still maintains his interest in International Communism which is what he specialized in. He now has to write a paper every year, published by a local think tank, which keeps him busy. He also continues to work on a research effort related to the Episcopal Church, which is splintering, just like the Communist Party splintered. He currently lives in a retirement community and works on these two efforts. Long term, he feels that SAIS really helped in sharpening his research techniques. He was primarily Washington, D.C. based, but did live that one year in Manila. He also served for one year in Saigon, Vietnam. After he retired, he also spent five years living in India, one of which was the anniversary year of the 50th year of independence. He wrote an article about this – only partially published – on how much British influence there is in India after 50 years of independence (and he felt that there was a lot of influence still). He also lived a month in Beirut, twice, which before the recent unpleasantness, he felt was a great place to visit. He’s also spent some time in West Africa, Asia (particularly Japan, where he has been several times, Burma, Thailand and Malaysia) and Latin America (including Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Angel Falls in Venezuela, from a plane). His favorite part of his career was working on liaison work (near the end) and traveled to and from Europe once every year. There, he primarily lectured on International Communism, which he enjoyed. He also liked putting different puzzle pieces together on various challenges he was given throughout his career. In terms of advice that he has for current students today, he suggests that they be open minded because what one thinks they are going to experience often ends up being very different from what one does end up experiencing. He says, “If you have a set view of what it’s going to be like, that can be an inhibiting factor, so keeping an open mind is probably an important thing.” He also reminds students that unless they are going to be in a war zone, most countries are a great experience and can provide a peaceful existence from day-to-day, so not to be afraid to live in places all over the world.