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A Citizen of the World
Education and personal drive take Bruce Andrus '72 overseas for 24 years
By Alexiss Turner
Bruce Andrus’ stay in the United States was a short one, considering most of his life has been spent back and forth between Morocco, Algeria, Israel, Nepal and the homestead in Montreal. Above all, he said his deepest connection lies in India – a bond initially forged on the University of Idaho campus.
In 1961, while looking into college options, Andrus’ father gave him two choices of study: engineering or mechanics. If he wanted to pursue other avenues, he’d have to do it out of his own pocket.
Despite it being to his economic detriment, he chose a liberal education. And in order to meet a wider variety of students, he chose UI.
Moscow served me in opening that window”
His off-campus housing was covered in stacks of New York Times newspapers, a personal reference library for his interests – history, politics and life in other countries.
Between morning shifts in the cafeteria at Gritman Medical Center and late shifts washing dishes at the Nobby Inn, now known as the Breakfast Club, the education and sociology major was figuring something out.
Foreign students at UI were scarce in the 1960s. Immigrating to the states was difficult and expensive. But Andrus said it was these students who opened his mind to employment abroad.
Not long after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Andrus joined the Peace Corps with the goal of working in India. The day he left for Peace Corps training in 1964, while driving down White Bird Pass near Grangeville, Idaho, he clicked on the radio to learn the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, had died of a heart attack.
The event further cemented Andrus’ calling to India. He spent two years working in agricultural extension in Bengal and Uttar Pradesh and building rural roads – some of the most rewarding work of his career.
Andrus returned to UI in 1966 to pursue a degree in sociology and anthropology and received his degree in 1972. Not long after, his career was launched into state government, working as a Foreign Service officer until retirement in 2001.
He worked as an economic commercial officer, reporting on opportunities for economic growth and progress. While in this position, he gained several notable clients – one being Mother Teresa.
Until 2010, even after retirement, Andrus accepted assignments overseas.
“It’s hard to turn off the tap 100 percent,” he said.
His return to the UI campus involved discussions with students through the Martin Institute. Established on campus in 1979, the institute’s mission is to understand causes of war, conditions for peace and the international system.
Andrus said the key to worldly career pursuits is making the most of education and having an increasing focus on interests. He also suggested making formal and informal pursuits to obtain practical, on-the-ground experience.
“You are not born with the knowledge of these broadening life experiences. You have to actively look for them,” he said.