Why did you join the OKGIT?
I was invited as a guest by past chairs James C. Collard and Chuck Mills as a result of my work with Citizen Potawatomi Nation. They both knew of my previous work and studies in the capital of Europe, Brussels, Belgium, and thought it would be an interesting organization to for me to be involved in.
Being born, raised and educated through college in Oklahoma, I never knew there were as many fellow ‘Okies interested in the world outside our nation’s borders. It was an honor to be asked to join and work with professionals across so many sectors who want to strengthen our international ties.
Tell us about your international experiences and how those are reflected in your work in Oklahoma?
My experience living and working in Belgium provided something that comes in use in my day-to-day work at the tribal government and as a member of the OKGIT. The gift of perspective and nuance when it comes to “non-traditional” issues or entities plays a prominent role in my work for both.
Understanding history and the interests of my employer and those we work with at the local and state level are key. I’m fortunate enough to put those skills to use in similar roles as a member of the OKGIT, whether we’re supporting entities like the state department of commerce or a visiting international delegation.
Why is it important for you that Oklahoma has strong international ties?
I consider myself fortunate enough to have been born in this country towards the end of the 20th century, a luck of the draw that is likely unrivaled in the history of human experience. I also realize this did not happen in a vacuum, but was the result of decades of purposeful American foreign policy and stewardship of a stable international order. As physically far as we as Oklahomans are from foreign borders, we’re still tied to the globe it in economic, political, military and cultural terms. I believe organizations like the OKGIT foster the positives in maintaining often ridiculed ties.
I stumbled on to Mark Twain’s The American Vandal while I lived overseas and it made as much sense as anything did to me in this regard.
“I am glad the American … goes abroad. It does him good. It makes a better man of him. It rubs out a multitude of his old unworthy biases and prejudices. It aids his religion, for it enlarges his charity and his benevolence, it broadens his views of men and things; it deepens his generosity and his compassion for the failings and shortcomings of his fellow creatures. Contact with men of various nations and many creeds teaches him that there are other people in the world besides his own little clique, and other opinions as worthy of attention and respect as his own. He finds that he and his are not the most momentous matters in the universe. Cast into trouble trouble and misfortune in strange lands and being mercifully cared for by those he ever saw before, he begins to learn that the best lesson for all – that one which culminates in the conviction that God puts something good and something lovable in every man his hands create – that the world is not a cold, harsh, cruel, prison-house, stocked with all manner of selfishness and hate and wickedness.”
John VanPool is the Assistant Director of Public Information for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, a tribal government located just outside of Oklahoma City. Under the direction of the tribal executive branch and the public information department director, he helps manage a team of communication professionals promoting the tribal government’s programs, commercial enterprises and public affairs.
He has previously worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency in Lakewood, Colorado as a public affairs specialist and for the Brussels-based consultancy G+ Europe as a researcher. John formerly wrote a policy briefing on the Republic of Turkey for the Brussels-based firm, the European Geopolitical Forum.
He is a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma with a BA in History and the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies with an MA in International Relations.