In the numerous commentaries mourning the loss of life at the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, one elegy came particularly close to home. It is by Valerie Staats, Country Director of the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, who was a colleague of the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens at the Tangier American Legation almost three decades ago.
We join her in mourning the loss of someone who dedicated his life to creating bridges between the United States and the Arab and Muslim worlds.
"In our 1983 TEFL stage in Morocco, there was a tall, blond kid who was known, among other things, as the one with the unfailing old-school courtesy toward all. He and I did a summer project together in 1984 at the American Legation Museum in Tangiers. He learned well both foshah (classical Arabic) and dareja (Moroccan Arabic). Chris always said he wanted to be an ambassador, and we didn't doubt him. Thanks to the Internet, we could keep in touch, and so we were all very proud when he was appointed Special Envoy to Libya, and later, the U.S. Ambassador. And we teased him, truthfully, that he hadn't changed one bit since our PCV days almost 30 years ago. Chris devoted his career, and life, to improving relations between the Arabic/Islamic world and the West. May he rest in peace."
RPCV Morocco 1983-85
Country Director, PC/Sierra Leone
Bold lettering added. Thanks to Friends of Morocco and its Peace Corps Morocco alumni for sharing this moving speech.
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Update 5 October: "Post Grad Mel," a current Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, has written this moving post about her recent visit to Chris Stevens' village of Ouaouizerthin the Atlas Mountains, where he served during his Peace Corps assignment. Beautifully written, with stunning photos.