Friday, February 22, 2008

Robert Kennedy & the Berlin Wall: A 60's AIESEC story

We are happy to have our first alumni "story" on the AIESEC Life weblog! As we've mentioned in our newsletters, we are collecting alumni stories to share with other alumni, and possibly to compile in a collection of essays. If you would like to submit a story, please e-mail Jim at jim -at-

John Tuteur is serving his third-term as Napa County’s elected Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk and ex-officio Registrar of Voter.
John served 11 years as County Assessor until appointment to the combined offices in January 1998. Prior to his service as Assessor, John served two terms as Napa County Supervisor for the 5th District from 1973 through 1980.

John holds degree from Yale University and the University of California Berkeley and has served as President of the Napa Valley Foundation and as a docent and teacher aide in Napa’s school system. John lives with his wife, Vee; daughter, Jessica and husband Dave and their two children, Lily and Marco, on the family cattle ranch which has been in the family for four generations since May 1951.

"AIESEC had a major impact on my life. From the first meeting of the Yale Local Committee that I attended in 1960 until I retired as National Committee President in June 1964, AIESEC influences shaped my Yale activities, my educational priorities and my choice of life partner.

"As a member of the Yale LC, I interacted with business people on both coasts. My interest in languages was strengthened with my first traineeship in 1961 in Monaco. As Local Committee President in 1961-1962 I learned the basic techniques of working with fellow students, advisors and our local business sponsors. I learned a second language for my traineeship in Forte dei Marmi, Italy during the summer of 1962. Attendance at the President’s Meeting in Lund, Sweden and conferences in Berlin, Princeton and Rome introduced me to the world of international, non-governmental organizations. My year as National Committee President in 1963-1964 was filled with contacts with other AIESEC leaders, knowledgeable professionals in the private sector and the experience of leading an energetic and thriving group of students.

"I still remember my passport sliding through the slot in the plywood wall in the U-bahn station under Berlin as several of us traveled into East Berlin just a few months after the wall went up. I shook the hand of Attorney General Robert Kennedy in Washington when he spoke to our AIESEC trainee group visiting the capitol. I can still feel the energy that flowed through that handshake.

"Several years ago I was visiting Calgary, Canada on a family vacation and stumbled across the International AIESEC Conference being held there. It was a strange sensation to wander around the lobby of the hotel seeing the placards for the various break-out sessions for the conference.

"Probably my greatest debt to AIESEC is for giving me the opportunity to meet my wife of 43 years who happened to live across the street from my apartment when I was in New York for my stint as National Committee President. Not only did I meet wonderful people from all parts of the world through AIESEC, I was fortunate enough to meet one person with whom I could share a life.

"I am pleased that AIESEC is still going strong in the United States 50 years after its inception here. I am proud of whatever small part I played in keeping the torch burning."