Eilis Maynard (‘04), currently works at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad as a Community Liaison Office Coordinator. She is responsible for maintaining morale at post, advocating for family members who have accompanied Foreign Service Officers/other State department employees overseas, and welcoming newcomers to post, among other duties. “Living abroad was never something I envisioned for myself or had any strong desire to do,” Eilis admits, “but I met my husband, Russ, while we were both undergrads at Emerson College in Boston, and a few years ago he joined the Foreign Service, which sent us to Beijing for two years, followed by our current assignment in Islamabad.”
Fascinated by the local lifestyle and culture in Beijing, and now in Islamabad, Eilis says the experience of being a minority has also been eye opening. “Observing the Chinese and Pakistani perception of the United States has provided some useful perspective.” Moreover, she adds, “my colleagues abroad are the most interesting part of my current lifestyle; the State Department is full of highly educated, multi-talented, international people who have committed their careers to working far from home.”
Eilis has an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, which she earned while working as a digital communications specialist at FEMA in Washington DC before moving overseas. Before that, she worked in communications for FEMA in Boston. Prior to her FEMA work she was the social media manager/web editor for a consumer cheese magazine named Culture – an opportunity that came through her senior-project mentor at Hawthorne Valley School (HVS).
Remarking on how her schooling at HVS has impacted her life and career, Eilis explained: “At HVS, I spent many years with the same group of people, watching them play sports, perform plays, create art, write papers, do senior projects, etc. . . Seeing them grow and manage different challenges over a 12-year span made me more determined to roll with life’s changes in adulthood, instead of just assuming I can’t handle them. It has also helped me in my work relationships overseas—giving and receiving feedback with the conviction that change is possible (and that honesty is important to that process), and trying to provide encouragement to those who feel like they can’t hack it. With the right kind of support they probably can.”
Eilis and Russ’s next post will be Tokyo, Japan, after two years of Japanese training in DC and Yokohama. “I am surprised to say that overall I have loved living and working overseas,” she says, “and that I look forward to our next big move.”