Last week I got a job offer to work at digital communications firm, my first job in the industrial sector after college. I decided to party like it was 1999, because that is the year this milestone would have been reached for most people my age. So I have been reaching out to my closest friends to share the news, including some that I haven’t contacted for awhile. While using google to find the Traveling Marchants blog, I noticed my friend Christian’s name showing up in the news media for an international incident that happened in Vietnam a couple of months ago.
Christian Marchant is a US diplomat that currently works on human rights issues in Vietnam. He has worked with Hillary Clinton and selected for a distinguished State Department award for his efforts. In January, he found that his diplomatic immunity was not enough to protect him from local (and perhaps rogue) cops giving him a beat down for insisting on visiting a dissident Catholic priest during a celebration. A more recent article from a pro-democracy Vietnamese writer to the Washington Post gives perspective on why some have strongly protested the attack.
Christian noted to me that he wishes his 15 minutes of fame had never happened. Later this year he will transfer to Washington D.C. to work on international relations with China, a country that he has previously served in. Christian has also served in Prague and worked on some congressional campaigns and staffs.
When I first met Christian in the mid 90s, we were apartment-mates at BYU heading in opposite directions. He was an returned missionary from the Czech Republic making rapid progress through his Poli-Sci major. I was busy getting suspended from BYU twice in as many years and delaying putting off a mission until I could get out of my academic and financial mess. The personal sacrifice that Christian made to enable me to serve a mission before the age deadline kicked in is easily the stuff that back-of-the-Ensign stories are made of.
But Christian has already outdone himself, especially with his recent activities making front page news and raising awareness regarding human rights. In addition to this, perhaps one day an Ensign cover story (or one of those between-session conference documentaries) will be done on the growth of the Church in some of the countries Christian has served and they wouldn’t go wrong to interview him for his perspective and experiences.