Meet Nicole Prévost Logan: Author and Global Citizen

August 17, 2011

Logan, pictured here with her daughter, divides her time between the United States and France.

When I met 1950–51 AAUW International Fellow Nicole Prévost Logan at the AAUW national office in Washington, D.C., I had no idea that I was sitting across from a woman who had spent more than 30 years traveling among three continents, mingling with officials and dignitaries from all over the world, and learning several languages along the way. But in the conversations that followed, it became clear to me that Logan has led a truly extraordinary life — from living on the front lines of a civil war in Lebanon to organizing arts festivals in South Africa to excavating a 12th-century Russian city.

Born and raised in France, Logan attended the elite Institute of Political Studies in Paris and earned her law degree from the Sorbonne. She would have taken the bar exam had she not seen an announcement for the AAUW International Fellowship and decided to apply. Although it took three months to find a political science program in the United States that would accept women, Logan eventually arrived at Stanford University. “That fellowship was essential. It gave another dimension to my life. The whole world opened up because of it,” she said. A half century later, AAUW is still opening doors for women of all nationalities through its fellowships and grants.

A photograph of Nicole Prévost Logan in a political science class at Stanford University in 1950, found in the AAUW archives

While at Stanford, Logan met her future husband, Alan, who was to become a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. Her new book, Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s 30 Years in the Foreign Service, chronicles her adventures with her late husband and their four children. Between 1951 and 1984 the family was stationed in 10 countries, including Taiwan, the former Soviet Union, Nigeria, Belgium, and South Africa. Despite the fact that the Department of State discouraged diplomats’ wives from working, Logan tried to find a job at each post, working as an editorial assistant, an interpreter, a French teacher, and a radio newscaster, among other things. She said these jobs were an integral part of her learning process, allowing her to learn about local perspectives on American foreign policy. “Each job gave me another approach to that country.”

Meanwhile, Logan was earning a master’s degree in Russian from American University, organizing archaeological workshops for women, and supporting artists struggling under the repressive Soviet regime, all while fulfilling her diplomatic duty to entertain foreign notables. “I never wanted to be just a housewife and family person,” she said. “I like to do everything at the same time.” After her husband’s retirement from diplomacy, Logan organized an archaeological expedition to Moscow with the help of Earthwatch, a nonprofit that involves volunteers in field research. Working within the walls of the Kremlin, her team unearthed the wood foundations of a city 200 hundred years older than archaeologists anticipated.

Logan hopes Forever on the Road will encourage travelers to visit other countries with open eyes and a willingness to learn. “Everybody has a story to tell. It’s a question of finding your niche, what is unique about what you have to say.” She will be sharing insights from her book at the AAUW Lower Connecticut Valley (CT) Branch on August 23 at 6 p.m.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Melissa Rogers.

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