Humans of the Embassy: Margaret Hanson-Muse, U.S. Commercial Service

“I was the first African American woman to join the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service but I wouldn’t say that’s how I define myself. I am just Maggie. I like cooking, scuba diving, horseback riding, textiles. I love people. I am a mix of many ethnicities – African American, Hispanic, Chinese, white, American Indian, and a whole bunch of other things. To label myself would be impossible. I am a human. This is one of many things I love about Singapore – I never feel out of place here. Nobody ever stares at me.

I come from a family of public service. My father was a diplomat, my daughters are teachers, one of my sisters is a nurse, another one a physiotherapist. My goal is to make a difference in people’s lives, whether it’s my family, my staff, or young people here in the ASEAN region who are doing really cool, entrepreneurial things. I take lots of photos to send back to the U.S. and show people what an attractive place Singapore is to do business.

Wherever I go, I immerse myself in local culture. Here in Singapore I love talking to cab drivers and eating in spots like Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice and Tandoori Corner and watching street theater on Balestier Road – places that have retained traces of old Singapore. I love visiting museums and watching films like Royston Tan’s 7 Letters to learn more about Singapore’s many cultures and customs. I am very curious about Singaporean life but have never had the opportunity to visit someone’s home. Occasionally, when I visit my expat friends, I catch a glimpse into a Singaporean home through an open door. I see shoes piled up and hear people talking and laughing, and I am dying to peek inside and see what’s happening.”

– Margaret Hanson-Muse, U.S. Commercial Service