Matamoros, Mexico: Washington, D.C.:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Flag Day Recap

As you know, Friday was Flag Day for the 156th A-100 class. Ninety-four of us were handed the plan for the next year or two of our lives in a nondescript blue folder accompanied by a small flag of a foreign country. My flag happened to be that of Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos. It all went by so fast.

There we were, listening to each assignment announcement and clapping wildly for each person (while also playing bingo with the cities on our bid list. America Wins Again!) As my classmates were called up one by one, I was really blown away by the reality of it all. Here were 93 people that I had spent the last four weeks with, getting to know them and building friendships. And at the end of next week, we will all begin our own, separate tracks toward our posts. For me, that means various training classes and a language refresher before departure in February. For some, it means spending almost an entire year in language training. And for a few others, it means reporting to work in a week at the State Department to begin their job! I'm really glad I didn't get a DC post, but it floats some people's boats. Not mine.

I've been doing some basic research about Monterrey since Friday evening. It's a big, first-world city with about 4 million residents. It's got a public bus and metro system, and is surrounded on four sides by big mountains. I've heard that the views are spectacular, and there are a lot of outdoor activities available if you can handle the smog and air pollution. Medical services are good, and the police are trustworthy. I'll be working in the U.S. Consulate General (consider it a "satellite office" of the embassy in Mexico City.) It also happens to be the busiest visa processing post in the world. Last year, they processed more than 179,000 non-immigrant visas. That's massive.

I'm certainly not disappointed by my assignment! I'm excited about getting to use my Spanish that I've been studying for quite a few years. I just wish that I was going a little further away than 2 hours across the Texas border. On the bright side, though, being so close will make it easier to come back to the States for things like my friends' weddings.

My mom has been in town this weekend visiting, and we've been quite the sightseeing pair. So far, we've hit all of the memorials and monuments on the National Mall, the Natural History and American History Smithsonians, the White House, the State Department, and Arlington Cemetery. Tomorrow is the U.S. Capitol Building before she flies out in the afternoon. Great weekend.

That's enough for now, I think. This upcoming week is our last of Orientation. It will be tough to say goodbye to these friends of mine in the 156th.

Until next time...peace.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your first post, Andrew. I've enjoyed reading your blog through A-100. My husband was in the 154th and we're headed to London next month. Even though our Flag Day was only a few months ago, it was fun to relive the emotions and drama of the day through your post. Take care!