ross s. anderson '75
In two to three sentences, please describe what your current position entails.
I supervise a group of Refugee Corps officers who travel around the world interviewing refugees to determine if they are eligible to resettle in the United States as part of the U.S. Refugee Program.
What has been your career path to date?
After graduating in 1975, I joined a group of St. Olaf professors and staff members who were assisting in resettling Vietnamese Refugees. After that summer, I joined the Peace Corps for 3-years, teaching math and science on the Island of Ponape in Micronesia. After Peace Corps I was hired by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) to work in Hong Kong with Vietnamese Refugees. After 11-years in Hong Kong I returned to the U.S. and joined the U.S. Government as an Asylum Officer, adjudicating requests for political asylum. For the past 9 years I have been working with the U.S. Refugee Program.
Which country(ies) has your work taken you to?
Micronesia, Hong Kong
How did your interest in working internationally develop?
My experience with Vietnamese refugees during the summer of 1975 got me interested in working internationally. The Peace Corps gave me the opportunity to work overseas.
Which parts of your St. Olaf education best prepared you to work internationally?
I spent 3 interims off-campus; Rome, Arizona, and Florida. These experiences only reinforced my desire to travel. Having done my student teaching and being certified to teach math and science gave me something to offer the Peace Corps.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about working internationally?
Since September 11, personal security has been the most challenging aspect about working internationally.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working internationally?
By the very nature of my work, I have been directly involved with refugee families in desperate situations, and along with all of the others involved with the U.S. Refugee Program, we have been able to made a difference in the lives of many.
What does being a “global citizen” mean to you?
We need to be engaged in global issues and this starts by having an understanding and appreciation for other people and cultures.
What advice would you offer current students interested in working internationally?
The Peace Corps was a great experience for me and this is one option for students interested in working internationally. Students should also consider working for a non-profit organizations with programs overseas. St. Olaf also has a number of Fulbright scholars (including my daughter Kristin Anderson '06 who is now in the UAE). Fulbright is another great opportunity to work overseas.
Please include anything else you would like to share about your experiences.
My work with refugees began in 1975 with a call from one of my St. Olaf professors. I'm glad that I was at home to receive that call.
My personal e-mail address is: RossAnderson20877@Yahoo.com