Matamoros, Mexico: Washington, D.C.:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Foray into The Woods

Those of you who are current Foreign Service Officers know what I'm referring to when I speak of The Woods. For all of you FSO-hopefuls.. have you ever seen The Blair Witch Project? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Ok, I'm just kidding. The 156th offsite to The Woods was actually a lot of fun, and we learned a lot. I mentioned in my last post that A-100 includes two days of an offsite leadership and team building exercise. We left FSI early on Thursday morning for the short 2-hour drive to West Virginia. The Woods itself is not exactly what I would call... woods. It's actually a somewhat secluded resort with all kinds of amenities, but it's located in "the country", so to speak, so it feels a little rustic. As soon as we got there we were divided up into city groups (go Beijing!). These groups remained as a team for both days. There were various missions to complete, such as crossing a dangerous gas field and retrieving information from booby-trapped containers! So dangerous! ;)

As we completed these missions, we learned crucial team building and leadership skills. Honestly, I've done a lot of leadership retreats before, but this one was certainly different than any of those. Instead of just doing "trust building" exercises like trust falls and low-ropes courses, we participated in real-life scenarios and had to function as a team to accomplish a goal. Then afterward, we debriefed each event and covered the basic team and leadership skills that were demonstrated.

Also during The Woods: the follies. I won't say much about them other than to say that the 156th A-100 is quite... "perceptive" (inside joke)... and has a lot of talent in the humor department. I laughed more than I have in a while watching my classmates make fools of themselves for the benefit of the group. Thanks to all of them. The follies were followed by general hanging out and merriment. The karaoke was great, and one or two classmates in particular quite literally stole the show when it came to interpretive dancing and singing. All I can say is: it's a good thing they don't allow anyone to take pictures or film.

Today I went with some classmates to the Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves game. We all had a great time, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them and getting to know them better. Unfortunately, it was ridiculously hot, and I sweated like a pig wearing a flannel shirt in the summer in Dubai. On the sun.

PS, one of my favorite new places in DC: Gravelly Point. This. place. rocks. It's located right on the tip of Reagan National Airport's runway. It has a biking/running trail going through it along the Potomac, and large open fields to hang out in. You can see there is a rugby match going on as a plane is landing overhead. Notice the Washington Monument in the background. Those planes come about every five minutes, and I felt like a little kid every time one flew over because I stopped whatever I was doing just to watch it. My friend George, his friend, and I were there tossing a frisbee around and just generally enjoying the beautiful morning this morning. I will certainly be making more visits to this place. There are no street lights or anything, so I want to go back at night and watch the planes land. I bet that's pretty cool.

My bid list is due Monday with my rankings for all 94 posts I could go to. I'll find out on Oct 8th where I'm going...very exciting. Also on Monday, our class is having our training at Capitol Hill in one of the Senate office buildings. That should be pretty cool.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for next time!

Until then... peace.


  1. Lots and lots of luck with your bid list! So exciting!

  2. This week's State Department Blog RoundUp is up- and you're on it!

    Have a great weekend!