Matamoros, Mexico: Washington, D.C.:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week One: A Recap

Wow. This week has been absolutely fantastic. So much has happened, so much has been learned, so much about my life is changing. I want to make sure I get it all recorded here so I can remember it down the road. Let's jump right in, shall we?

I already covered day one and two in a top-ten style list. That was the majority of the excitement, but I'll add just a little to it. The A-100 room is slightly small, but that's mainly because our class itself is rather large. There are 94 of us in the class, and the room was built to seat about 60 comfortably and about 80 if you pack them in. Once again, I'll point out that there are 94 of us. Oh well.. close proximity just builds relationships all that much faster, right? Of course, it doesn't help that I sit right next to one of the biggest guys in the group (but he's also one of the most friendly!)

So that leaves us with days three, four, and five.

Wednesday was a pretty good day, though it was, again, more training and informational in nature. We learned how FSI (foreign service institute) handles language testing/instruction, which was really interesting to me because that's right up my proverbial alley. Normally, the language test would take about an hour and a half and consist of reading and speaking, but because there are so many of us who speak Spanish and French, I have to do something different. Next Tuesday morning, I will sit down with a Spanish instructor for about 15 minutes, and that's it. I'll try to demonstrate to him or her what level of Spanish instruction I've had and how well I know the language. But that's it.. I've got 15 minutes to prove my skills. So I'm sure I'll be a little nervous on Tuesday morning. They rank you based on a 0-5 scale, and I'm hoping for at least a 2+/2+ or a 2+/3. Basically, a 3 is "professionally proficient." (Oh, and the first number is your speaking ability, the second is your reading ability.) They call this method of language exam a "speed date" with your instructor. Here's hoping my dating skills are up to par.

Later that same day, we had some briefings on the mission and structure of the State Department and met with our Career Development Officers (CDOs). They spent the entire afternoon telling us how they go about assigning first posts and how to go through our bid lists. Then, the moment came: we got the actual bid list for our class. There are 94 different options, though some of them I can immediately weed out because I would rather not work there (domestic posts in Washington, DC, for example.) So I have until Sept 27th to rank EACH of the posts on the bid list with a High, Medium, or Low ranking. The entire process is pretty tight and organized. Needless to say, I have a lot of research to do. While I'm not permitted to share the entire list with you, I can say that there are a lot of North and Central American posts as well as quite a few in Southeast Asia and Africa.  I've got my work cut out for me.

The Treaty Room at the State Department
On Thursday, we had more briefings on the mission and structure of an embassy and the people that work within them. It was really quite interesting, and was very informative. I learned more acronyms (I mean, it IS the federal government after all!) At the end of that day, I learned how to go about getting my per diem paid to me and also how to be reimbursed for my travel to DC to begin the job. As for Friday, it was spent at Main State. We heard from a former ambassador as well as various other offices within The Department. I also took a short tour around the building, and saw the Treaty Room where the Secretary often signs treaties and other documents with foreign officials. Very, very cool.

That's all the dry, day-to-day information there. Now I want to give my thoughts on it all.

I. Love. This. Job. And I haven't even left the country yet! I am so extremely blessed to have been provided a job like this. Every day, I learn more and more about it, and every day, I love it more. It truly seems to be my dream career. I hope to have a long and successful run with the Foreign Service, for sure.

There was one session during the week that had a huge impact on me, and it made me realize just how important my job really is. I am honored and count it a privilege to have this job, to work with the people I work with, and to have the opportunity to get to know so many of the people in my A-100 class. I hope I can give back as much as they're giving to me!

I'm not used to this "real world" thing just yet, though. The waking up before the sun comes up and the going to bed as if I were still in college has taken its toll on me. Yesterday I woke up with a sore throat and slight congestion. Last night was filled with lots of sneezing and coughing. After sleeping about 10 hours last night, I'm feeling slightly better, and hopefully I'll be back to 100% by Monday.

This post is getting pretty long, and I'm going to wrap it up now. I've got a lot to do today, but I'm also trying to take it easy. My UAB shipment from home just arrived, so now I have two giant boxes in the middle of my living room, and I have absolutely no idea what to do with them. Lesson learned: I can live with much less than I thought I could. I just might not even unpack them and wait until I ship out for post (or, at least, until I know how long I'll be staying in DC.)

Much love to you all. Until next time... peace.

1 comment:

  1. A-100 went by in such a blur that I can hardly remember it all (and I'm in the 155th!). Keep on recording your memories when you have the time - it all goes so quickly! Happy bidding too (DC posts aren't so bad ;-)