July 1, 2021

Redefining the Impossible with Peter Winter

Peter has spent his life redefining the impossible. With a zeal for adventure, Peter has served in Islamabad, Pakistan; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and Shanghai, China – but what has sparked his interest in promoting cultural diplomacy and engagement for nearly a decade?

This interest can be traced back to Peter’s childhood, when he drew inspiration from his mother’s career as a travel agent and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 2. While Peter’s path didn’t lead him to scale the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, it still led him to a life of adventure – from being selected as a Student Ambassador to managing the Student Ambassadors Program at the Shanghai Expo, leading the USA Pavilion's overall operations in South Korea, touring Southeast Asia by motorcycle, and eventually, joining the U.S. Foreign Service.

During this MentorTalks episode, Peter talks about the power of international exchange, his experience behind the scenes at two World Expos, and life in the Foreign Service – including navigating both the professional and personal aspects of the career path. In regard to the upcoming 2021 World Expo in Saudi Arabia, he says, “Our hope is that the (U.S. Pavilion) adds to the experience and a lasting impression of what the United States is all about.”

Hear more about Peter’s “Great Ride Forward,” when he set out courageously on motorcycle - for the first time - and rode nearly 5,000 miles across China, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia with a friend.

While Peter doesn't necessarily promote riding around the world on motorcycle, he does recommend getting out to see and experience the world from a new lens, encouraging those “to think through how you can go about it in a way where you’re going to see new things and be exposed to things maybe outside of your comfort limit.”

For those interested in becoming a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) or pursuing a career in international relations, Peter also shares his tips for honing your language skills and world affairs knowledge - as why you might need to take the FSO test more than once. Watch Peter’s interview for all his career advice and more.

Speaker Biography

Peter Winter is a career Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State and currently serves as Special Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R). He is a Public Diplomacy-coned officer, and previously served as the Saudi Arabia Desk Officer in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; as the Public Affairs Special Assistant in Islamabad, Pakistan; as the Public Affairs Officer in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and as a Consular Officer in Shanghai, China. His next tour will be as deputy spokesperson for U.S. Embassy Cairo, Egypt.

Before joining the State Department, Peter worked for the USA Pavilions at two World Expos (World's Fairs). He was the director of the Student Ambassadors exchange program at the Shanghai 2010 Expo, then director of operations at the 2012 Expo in Yeosu, South Korea.

Peter graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master's in Public Diplomacy and a Bachelor's in International Relations & East Asian Languages. He also has a certificate in Mandarin Chinese from Peking University in Beijing.

Peter is originally from Taos, New Mexico. His wife, Dori Winter, is also a Foreign Service Officer and the two welcomed their first son in fall 2020 (who already has his first diplomatic passport!)..

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