Although his training is in tropical diseases, Barrett has served in places where he could be digging holes one day, showing local projects to a U.S. senator the next, setting up chairs for a meeting, shaking hands with a foreign president or consulting with local doctors on screening children for malaria. Where Barrett goes is largely is determined by where his skills are most needed.
“It helps that I’m flexible,” he said. “I’ve got to do all kinds of things in my job, and do them with good humor and aplomb.
“I’m also persistent,” he added. “That definitely helps because things don’t always work out the first time.”
Although the Barretts are preparing to leave for Bangkok, they took time to talk about a way of life that would be far more typical if they’d grown up on the East Coast, graduated from an Ivy League school, and lived in suburban Maryland or Virginia.
Unlike most of his State Department peers, however, Barrett attended high school in the Detroit suburb of Fraser and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Hope College.
His wife, Julie, is from Grand Haven. They met at Hope and were married in Spring Lake.
Their parents live near by, as do many other family members, and they just bought a house not far from Grand Haven State Park.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.
— By Janet Tyson, Tribune correspondent