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"From Wayland to Washington, D.C."

As part of USTR’s “Hometown High School” program, Assistant United States Trade Representative for China Affairs Claire Reade recently sat down for a phone interview with student reporters from her alma mater Wayland High School in Wayland, MA. USTR’s “Hometown High School” program encourages and enables our employees to connect with their high school alma maters to speak to current students about the value of education in their careers. The program also provides USTR staff with an opportunity to communicate the benefits of trade to the next generation of American workers and to share their experiences in public service.

From Wayland to Washington, D.C. (Wayland Student Press Network)
By Basil Halperin, Ben Rabin and Kruti Vora

Claire Reade, Then and Now
Claire Reade, a Wayland High School graduate (class of 1970), now works as an Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (AUSTR) for China Affairs at the Office of the United States Trade Representative. (File photo: Wayland Reflector - Public domain: US Government Office of the United States Trade Representative)

Claire Reade, like many young teens, didn’t know what career she wanted to pursue when she attended Wayland High School in the late 1960s. At Wayland, Reade took an interest Latin and foreign language in general. More importantly, Reade’s Wayland education opened her eyes to the world, instilling a strong curiosity and a desire to do something “meaningful and significant.”

Today, Reade – now an Assistant U.S. Trade Representitive (AUSTR) for China Affairs at the Office of the United States Trade Representitive – is able to offer a global perspective on the importance of education.

In a recent interview with WSPN, Reade, a 1970 Wayland High School graduate, stressed the importance of a broad and thorough education.

“In my field that I’m in right now, it’s clear to me – we need you to learn how to think, how to write, how to be analytic, how to be curious,” said Reade. “Now in our increasingly globalized world, we are having to compete for jobs against folks from all over the world. I work on China, but its China, India, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Germany.”

A taste for tongues

“Latin was a very cool subject when I was there,” Reade said.

“The teachers at Wayland High School were really a fantastic group of teachers that really were interested in making you excited about learning,” she said. ” The opportunity to take foreign languages and understand foreign cultures was also a very important part of my education.”

Reade’s interest in foreign languages continued to develop after she graduated high school, which led her to study Latin, Mandarin Chinese, French and German in college and graduate school.

As part of her German studies, she worked as a research assistant to one of her college professors in Germany after college. It was there, in Europe, that she began to understand the importance of economic and political relations between countries.

“There was a lot of serendipity,” Reade said. “You take this young woman from Wayland, Massachusetts [who] suddenly realizes this whole world is out there and it needs attention. I decided that I really wanted to be engaged internationally, and I wanted to do something that would help in this world of ours in trying to move things in the right direction for planet Earth.”

Expanding exports

Reade received her masters degree from the Fletcher School of Diplomacy and a law degree from Harvard. After graduating from Harvard, Reade studied in Taiwan under a Sheldon Fellowship.

Reade would eventually marry and move to Washington, where she began working in her current position as Assistant Trade Representative for China Affairs. Reade’s main responsibility is to define and coordinate the federal government’s efforts to expand access to markets in China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Mongolia for American goods and services.

“China has good laws on books that are supposed to protect intellectual property rights – music, authors, those kinds of patents,” said Reade. “There are some very significant problems. These problems make it difficult for China to develop an innovative society and it makes it very difficult for our goods and services to go over to China with a sense of comfort that [copyright holders] actually are not getting their intellectual property rights stolen.”

“It’s very important, and I feel very privileged to be doing it,” she said.

Reade advised any Wayland High School students wishing to enter public service to continue studying, especially in the area of foreign languages.

Her suggestion? “Get a broad education, figure out what it is that you love to do, and try to do that.”

While some Wayland students may stare blankly at the board during their classes, wondering how Latin or Calculus will benefit them in the future, what they do not realize is that this education could guide them to a career in public service, just as it did for Claire Reade.