Matamoros, Mexico: Washington, D.C.:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How Quickly Things Change

On October 8th, at my A-100's Flag Day, I was assigned to a two-year Consular tour in Monterrey, Mexico.

On December 22nd, I arrived at work with an email from my Career Development Officer in my inbox. "Good morning, Andrew. I hope you're doing well. Something has come up that we need to discuss. Please call me at ###-###-#### as soon as possible. Thanks."

I knew immediately what that meant. The same email had been received by some colleagues in my A-100 class. I had only seven or eight minutes before my Spanish class was going to start. I dialed the number.

"Hey XXXXX, this is Andrew. I just got your email asking me to contact you."

"Oh, yes, good morning Andrew. Do you have a few minutes?"

"Yeah, I have about five minutes. What did you need to talk to me about?"

"Well, there's been a change. Someone in Matamoros, Mexico has curtailed their assignment. We need to fill the position as soon as possible, so we decided that we needed to get someone who was on the same training schedule that you're on and that is taking all of the same classes as you are. That narrowed down our options to you and one other person. After reviewing your profiles, we decided that you would be the most flexible person to be reassigned from Monterrey to Matamoros."


"So, how do you feel about our decision?"

And that's when I knew things had already been decided, and this wasn't my opportunity to weigh in.

"Oh, uh... well, I guess if that's what the Department needs, then that's what I'll do."

And with that, I was reassigned. I'm now going to Matamoros, Mexico. It's a small city on the border with Texas, just south of Corpus Christi and South Padre Island. Unfortunately, it's smaller, more dangerous, and closer to the US than Monterrey was. To be honest, I was a little disappointed when I first learned about the change; there were eight or nine people from my A-100 who had been assigned to Monterrey, too, and we had developed a good relationship with each other.

But then I started to look for the silver lining. Consulate General Matamoros, as I've mentioned, is smaller than Monterrey. That means that I will have many more opportunities to serve in different sections and do different things. The variety will be a welcome change from the storied visa line in Monterrey. But now, I'm actually quite excited about the change. Although, ironically, one of the reasons I joined the Foreign Service was to "travel the world," and here I am basically going to south Texas. I look forward to the smaller environment, because it means I will have stronger relationships with the other folks that work there.

It also means that it's easier for people to come and visit me, though I'm not sure anyone will actually want to. I'd suggest staying on the Texas side of the border... ;)

I suppose that's all I have for now. It's interesting how quickly things change.

Until next time... peace.


  1. Welcome to the border :) I felt the same way about going to south Texas but the border really is its own world. It has its downsides but it will definitely be a new experience for you. Best of luck!

  2. Good luck, and Safe Travels. Be careful in those border cities of Mexico.

    This is just your first assignment, by showing dedication and willingness to follow department instructions will help you down the road, and who knows what "travel the world" assignment you'll get next!

  3. It is time for the Weekly State Department Blog Round Up and you are on it!

    It is found here:

    If you would like the links to your site removed (or corrections are needed) please contact me. Thanks!

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  5. I don't know if it helps but most of the border dwellers I know have been very happy with their onward assignments and have found ways to enjoy the border even when things were rough. Good luck!

  6. We were one of the families who were evacuated from Monterrey in Sept. We loved it for the little bit of time we were there, but not being able to drive back to TX was not fun. At least in Matamoros, you can take a quick drive to escape the stress and danger. Good luck and stay safe!!