Saturday, July 31, 2010

Weekend Update

First, I know that people who read this blog, especially Foreign Service folks, will want to know where we are going for our first assignment. I am sorry to leave you hanging for so long. After much debate, I have decided that I am not going to post that here.

I have thought long and hard about the security issues attendant to blogging, and about how transparent I want to be in general. I read a lot of blogs while I was trying to decide if the Foreign Service was the right fit for me and my family, I read a lot of blogs while I was going through the seemingly endless hiring process, and I continue to read a lot of blogs today. I admit, I always want to know where people are going. I blog because I like being part of a community, I like having a place to vent about FS life where people actually understand what I am talking about, and I also like the idea of giving back to a community that has given me so much. Digger long ago convinced me that there is value to FS hopefuls in blogging, and I have learned so much from the many bloggers that I have read in recent years. I feel like in some small way I am paying that kindness forward by blogging. But after sitting through security seminars and thinking about the issues, I am also convinced of the value of maintaining a certain level of opacity. I harbor no illusions that I am actually anonymous--I know that I have shared enough details that any really motivated person could figure out who I am. But I think that by being a bit vague, I am striking the appropriate balance for myself in general. So I am sorry. . .the location of my first post will remain a mystery. At least for now. It may be a bit tricky to maintain that while also recounting our adventures abroad, and I may revisit that decision in the future.

So, with that. . .as I have mentioned, I am PD-coned. There were a surprising number of PD posts on our bid list. When you bid your first tour, you are required to have a stated bidding strategy, and you are supposed to bid in accordance with that strategy. My bidding strategy was to go for PD jobs. Historically, the bid lists have apparently been devoid of entry-level PD jobs, so the PD folks were encouraged to go for PD positions while they were available.

The wrinkle was that the vast majority of the PD posts were not language designated, meaning that we would not receive training in a foreign language. Before getting the bid list, I had expected to do a consular tour first, and was also hoping to get language training so that I could get off language probation (all FS officers must gain true proficiency in a language within the first few years of being hired; you cannot get tenure without establishing language proficiency). It was therefore a bit of a gamble to go for the PD jobs, as it meant that I would potentially get neither language training nor satisfy my consular requirement. This meant that on my next tour, I would need to bid only on posts that allow me to get both. And, that is exactly how things worked out. I am going to a PD job, I will not be receiving any language training, and there is no consular component to my position. The position sounds interesting, though, and it's in a location we are really excited about, so I think the tradeoffs are worth it.

It also means that we are out of here relatively quickly. I took a few training courses this past week, and have more training over the next month or so, but it looks like we will be leaving for post in about a month and a half (I don't have a firm date yet, or even a mushy one, thanks to a bit of bureaucracy that I am trying to work around). A good sized portion of my A-100 class will actually be leaving for post over the next couple of months. First, a lot of people had language skills and went to posts with immediate openings. Second, there were a lot of non-language designated posts. Some folks are even leaving in August! It's weird to think that the 94 of us won't be together any more, after spending the last month and a half bonding. Soon, we'll be scattered around the entire world.

Prior to bidding, I had thought that we would be here for language training, so the idea of leaving so quickly has taken some getting used to. We are of course thrilled to be going to one of our top choices. But, we have also been enjoying DC, and it is a bit disappointing to be leaving so soon. There are so many things we had hoped to do, and now we are having to re-prioritize. The good thing about the Foreign Service, though, is that we know we will be back in two years, because I will definitely need language training then. We'll save the to-do list.

In the meantime, we are making good use of our time in the city. Yesterday, the weather was finally just perfect for being outside. We wrangled for hours with pre-departure-for-post bureaucracy (FSO-In-Training: 0; State Bureaucracy: 1), then spent a magnificent afternoon enjoying the city: long meandering stroll, leisurely impromptu dinner, delicious dessert picnic, and sunset on the mall. Beautiful!


  1. Good luck with the move and glad you are enjoying the DC area. We are rediscovering it and forgot during our long absence how much there is to do!


  2. Nice! glad you guys are making the best of your limited time. Thank you so much for the cupcake tip you offered recently. VERY eager to ride our bikes over and check it out. BTW, I love the look of your blog.