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First Perham, then the world: 2001 graduate is now a foreign diplomat

Ted Meinhover while working as a diplomat in Jamaica.

Ted Meinhover is traveling the globe in pursuit of his dreams.Ted Meinhover in high school

Since graduating from Perham High School in 2001, he’s lived in Minneapolis, Jamaica and Washington, D.C., and he’ll soon be on the way to his next stop – China.

Ted is currently training to be an American diplomat in the Chinese capital of Beijing. As a Foreign Service Officer for the United States Department of State, he’ll be stationed at the U.S. Embassy there.

“I’m going to be doing everything from working with Chinese students, businesspeople, and tourists who need a visa…to meeting with Chinese government officials,” Ted explained in an email to the Focus. His efforts will help “ensure that our two countries and governments are understanding each other and cooperating in the best way possible.”

Ted is currently in Washington, D.C., training for the assignment. He’s taking intensive language courses, all day every day, and will make the move  to Beijing later this spring.

It’ll be a challenge to learn how the Chinese political system works, and how to effectively communicate with the many different communities of people there, he said, but he’s excited for the opportunity.

“I think I have one of the best jobs ever,” he said. The work satisfies his love for travel and discovering new cuisines and cultures, but, more importantly, it allows him to “be a part of events that have a real impact on a global scale.”

As U.S.-China relations continue to develop over the next few years, for example, that’s “going to have a major impact on our country and countries around the world… and I will have the privilege of that development, even if it is only a small role,” said Ted.

The former student council, football, band, speech and drama participant has already worked as a diplomat for Jamaica, where he was stationed at the U.S. Embassy in the capitol city of Kingston. He’ll be in China for a few years, and, after that, he’ll be reassigned to another new location – and that could be anywhere from Cairo to Brussels to Buenos Aires.

“I work in a different country every couple of years, and that often means learning how to navigate a whole new culture and using a new language,” he explained. “I am constantly surrounded by an incredibly diverse, smart group of people.”

Ted didn’t always know what he wanted to be when he grew up. It was due to some inspirational and influential people and experiences he had in Perham that his eyes were opened to the many opportunities out there.

Teachers like Sandra Weiser-Mathews played a role in helping him discover the meaning and importance of leadership and teamwork. And things like the Concordia Language Village and Close-Up group trips “exposed me to whole new worlds and gave me a glimpse of the possibilities that existed out there in the wide world… a world outside of what I knew, expanding my horizons and fueling more expansive dreams of what one could do with one’s life.”

Raised in Rush Lake Township, Ted said he often misses his family back home, including his dad, Tom Meinhover, and mom Debra Gluesing. Technologies like Skype and Facebook help him feel closer to loved ones, but he wishes he was able to visit more often.

After high school, Ted went to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, achieving his bachelor of arts degree in journalism and international studies in 2006. He then worked for a time as a journalist with the Asian American Press in the Twin Cities, and then at an international organization in Washington, D.C., before becoming a diplomat.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune as a reporter and magazine editor in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in Detroit Lakes with her husband, Dan, their 3-year-old son and baby daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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