Kurzman, Harold--Oral History Interview

Embargo until
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Kurzman was a graduate of Haverford College in political science and economics and there, he was learned that after graduated, he would be particularly interested in focusing on international relations. At that time, he remembers there being a choice, basically, between the Fletcher School and Johns Hopkins, SAIS, and he chose SAIS for its location (he much preferred being in Washington, D.C., for this field). He also came to SAIS as he appreciated the three-part curriculum with a language, an area specialization requirement and a subject matter requirement. At that time, Kurzman remembers the school being quite small (about 200 students) and they all studied in the old, red brick building on Florida Avenue. They developed close relationships and there was a lot of interaction out of the classroom. He also recalls living on Wyoming Street with other students, several international, and that it was walking distance from the school (in Adams Morgan). During the summer, he was able to do work in the field as an intern and then was later hired as a research assistant for USAID and got to do some teaching. Eventually, this led him to the State Department, which is where he started his career. After working for five years in the State Department for the USAID program (where he worked part of the time in Washington, D.C., and part traveling to Africa and living in East Africa, where he met his wife), he decided to go into the private sector where he could continue efforts in the international realm, but work in a smaller environment. So he was hired by a consulting firm that did lots of work with the World Bank and other international organizations and spent the rest of his career working for such firms, in 50 different countries. In that time, he lived seven or eight years in Africa, and also lived in Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, the Philippines, Uganda, Cameroon and Malawi. He enjoyed Malawi the most where he met his wife who was from the West Indies and resident of England at the time. He lived in Malawi twice during his career, and the second time he lived there, he worked closely on efforts related to refugees from Mozambique. He has now been retired for five years. During his career, if he was not living overseas, he was living in Rockville, MD. When his wife passed away (recently), he moved down to Florida (Gulf Coast), which is where he resides now. During the interview, we also focused the camera on four of his photographs that sit on the wall of the Alumni Relations Office. He described each one as the camera gave a close of look of them, one at a time. One photograph was taken of pelicans in Florida. Another was of an alligator in Florida. The third one was taken in Berkina Faso at a market place. The last of four was taken at Lake Como of some gardens. Photography is a hobby of his and since he has moved to Florida, he devotes a good deal more time to this effort (and, in fact, was wearing a camera around his neck during the interview). In terms of advice he has for current students today, he says, “consider strongly the type of work environment in which you want to work (e.g. large organization or small, international or not, profit or non-profit, etc.)….also, if you are going to live overseas for a good deal of the time, that has personal consequences in terms of moving your household for a couple of years at a time. Be sure that you are married to someone who is willing to pick up and move around and make new friends.”
Argentina, State Department, West Indies, Cameroon, Uganda, Lake Como, Malawi, Brazil, Mozambique, The Philippines, USAID, East Africa, Photography, Florida, Haverford College, Turkey, Gulf Coast, Berkina Faso