GC highlight: Bruce Truitt
“I live my life like a dog,” says Bruce Truitt. “I sniff all the corners for something new.” This was the amazing quote from our interview, and it describes exactly how brave he is. Gutsy, enthusiastic, dynamic and bright in everything he does. He is a multi-lingual auditor, analyst, consultant and educator. We dare to say he is also an excellent musician and a curious person thirsty for knowledge, who has spent his life working hard, studying, and learning around the globe. He seems always to be “brainstorming” with himself, looking for new combinations of ideas and perspectives. He speaks three languages fluently and is learning a new one. He seems non-stop.
Bruce Truitt is from Houston, TX, but spent most of his life in Austin, where he really developed his connection with the music industry. “To make a living playing music required doing a whole bunch of different things to make ends meet. So, I was head of the Musicians Union, playing music, doing sound reinforcement, sound design, music for plays, booking bands, writing jingles, and producing music for myself and other players.”
After somehow finding time to earn a BA in Honors English and MA in Foreign Language Education, with minors in foreign languages and computer-assisted instruction, respectively, Bruce went back into music by working in a recording studio as manager, engineer, and session musician which then led to developing skills in media production and media/public relations. “It was also a time when public information was moving from paper to electronic media, especially in government agencies. So, I became the head of Public Information and Health Education for the Austin Travis County Health Department and then moved on tobe Public Information and International Protocol Officer and head of the Sister Cities Program for the City of Austin.”
After realizing that media and public relations were somewhat self-limiting, he returned to school to earn a master’s degree in Public Administration, during which time he specialized in Soviet and Russian Economics, operations research, and applied statistics. He then went to work for the Texas State Auditor’s Office and later for the State of Texas Office of Inspector General where he became a health care auditor and resident statistics expert. He has been in business for himself for the last 12 years as an expert witness, consultant, and instructor in healthcare fraud, auditing standards, internal control, and applied statistics.
Bruce also studied, lived, and worked in the USSR and Russia. “I studied Russian for two years as an undergraduate. I just could not believe that all Russians wanted to kill Americans. So, after graduation, I sold pretty much everything I owned and studied in Moscow, Leningrad, and Kiev. I then worked in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia off and on for about five years and, ultimately, returned to college and took a master’s in Russian and East European Studies. He adds, “My wife has forbidden me from returning to the university, but anything is possible!”
What does Bruce enjoy most? Without hesitation, he said, “Playing music, spending time with my family, learning new things, and being able to enter another culture by learning its language. Knowing another language is a passport to another world.”
He adds, “Learning a new language is a courageous act and one that can silenceus when we don’t know how to say something – an experience I call ‘stubbing your brain.’ When you hit your toe on a door or something, it stops you dead in your tracks, right? The same thing happens when you mess up with grammar or vocabulary–you stub your brain, and you stop. But, that’s exactly what you should not do. Push on. Talk yourself out of the corner. It is just like playing music. Both music and language are improvisation. We shine and learn when we make mistakes. Even when things don’t go right, everyone on the planet is beautiful in their own way, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and all that other stuff.”
Bruce and his family came to Pennsylvania five years ago, mostly to be closer to his wife’s (Kate) family. “Kate’s mom is 89 – still driving, still living on her own, still going to the gym, but someday she will need some help. We’ll be here.”
Bruce’s involvement with Global Connections (GC) began three-and-a-half years ago. “Somehow, Board Member Susan Steinberg found out about me. When we met, she told me Global Connections was looking for a new Treasurer. Since what GC was doing was a direct extension of my background in International Protocol, I could hardly refuse.”
When we asked about how GC has helped him, he noted that, “It gives me a meaningful way to connect with other people and other cultures, continue my background in international relations and keep my language skills alive. I have really enjoyed trading Russian-English lessons with a couple of other members of Global Connections. Global Connections also creates a forum in which the spouses and children of Penn State’s international cohort can learn about and interact with the State College community.
The best part of being a GC member is that Global Connections is an organization that is trying to facilitate and develop an international presence in a largely monocultural environment.” Regarding why he decided to be a volunteer, he observes that he is at a point in his life in which giving is more important than getting. “I don’t really need to be paid for something. I feel like I have more control over my time and, as a result, am more free to contribute to the community.
We then asked him about the meaning of life. He quickly noted“Community!”Adding that you can’t have community without communication. “Better communications would solve the great majority of the world’s problems.” He continued,“ that’s what GC is trying to do by creating a community beyond Penn State, an effort which I wholeheartedly celebrate.”