Meet Pat Givens, WACSC Board Member
Pat’s rich life and wide experience have made her an ideal World Affairs Council member and valued contributor to the Board. We asked her to share some life highlights with us. Pat writes:
From a very early age, I wanted to travel and see how other people lived. Perhaps this was because I was born in a tiny town — Leitchfield, Kentucky, population 600. I just knew there had to be a big wide world out there somewhere.
My family moved twice in the Midwest during my grammar and high school years. I graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Social Work and married Bill, a West Pointer. Bill and I soon determined that military life was not for us, so he resigned his commission, and we moved to Berkeley, California, where our first child, Steve, was born. Later we moved to Concord, where our daughter Sage was born. But our family was destined to travel. Bill entered the U.S. Diplomatic Corps and soon we were sent to the American Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
This was a dream come true, and learning about Japan, its history and customs became my mission in life. We lived in private housing away from the Embassy, and our family learned to speak Japanese and to thrive with Japanese neighbors and playmates. After seven years — and two more Givens children, Amy and Catherine — we returned stateside.
Though now in Washington, D.C., our life remained centered on Japan. Bill was assigned to the State Department’s Japan Desk and I was elected President of the Washington/Tokyo Women’s Club. So we were often invited to attend gatherings at the White House and at the Japanese Embassy to help with interpreting during Japan’s official visits. I look back on the period with great fondness. And on top of it all, we welcomed our fifth child, Ann.
Eventually Bill left the State Department and we moved to Boston, where we divorced. Needing to go to work full time, my experience in Japan came to the rescue. I became the Executive Director of the Japan Society of Boston. This was the era of Japan’s great economic success, so the Society was very active in cross-cultural activities. Fortuitously, the World Affairs Council of Boston and my office were in the same building.
After five years at the Japan Society I was invited by the Massachusetts State Government’s Office of International Trade to become Director of Asian Affairs, requiring frequent travel to — where else? — Japan, as well as to China, Taiwan, and South Korea.
In 1992 I was honored to receive (and this sounds embarrassingly lofty) the Imperial Decoration Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Government of Japan, recognizing my years of “promoting friendly relations and mutual understanding between our two countries.” I guess that I’d come a long way from tiny Leitchfield, Kentucky.
During these busy years, Bob Nichols, Executive Director of the World Affairs Council of Boston, and I combined our lives and married. After a time Bob and I retired from our jobs and moved to Santa Rosa. We immediately sought membership in the World Affairs Council of Sonoma County.
Bob, who was very active in WACSC, passed away a few years back. As for me, I have continued to be active, and have served as WACSC President, Vice President, Secretary and in several other positions.
I have loved every minute of it!