Who are you?

From growing in segregated Baltimore, to working with Henry Kissinger.
  • Transcript


Question: Who are you?

Robert Hormats: Robert Hormats.

Question: And where are you from?

Robert Hormats: Baltimore, Maryland.

Question: And how do you think that shaped you?

Robert Hormats: It shapes me in part because as I was growing up, when I was very young, Baltimore was still a segregated city. The schools were segregated, and it was only when I was in primary school that they began desegregated. So I learned a lot about social transition during that period.

And I also was cognizant of the fact that, growing up in Baltimore, I was really in a relatively narrow social environment. So my parents fortunately were also aware of that, and they sent me to a camp in the Pocono’s that was populated in large measure by children of U.N. diplomats.

And therefore at a very early age, I got to know people from all over the world. I think that had an influence on me. And I also decided that, once I finished high school, I wanted to go somewhere else to school. So I went to school in Boston, which further broadened my social, economic and political horizons.

As a young person I was influenced by teachers, particularly teachers in my high school; my parents who liked to travel. They enjoyed travel. They gave me and my sister a very strong grounding in education. We were constantly told that you not only have to study, but you have to develop a thirst for knowledge.

And they talked at the dinner table about various current events and various issues, and made a real point of trying to encourage us to read, to inquire, to expand beyond our normal life, to understand the world and a lot of the issues that were contemporary at the time. 

I had a number of things – several things that went through my mind at various points and times. One, I was at one point interested in medicine and still am, although I didn’t pursue that. My uncle was in business, and he encouraged me to go into business.

I, when I went to college, began to take courses in international politics, domestic politics, international economics, domestic economics. So over a period of time I began to become more aware of the world and more interested in it. And I think in the end it was the opportunity to travel; it was the opportunity to understand other cultures; the opportunity to see the world and all it had to offer which caused me to go into international economics.

And then after school, to work in the National Security Counsel for Dr. [Henry] Kissinger.


Recorded On: July 25, 2007