Matamoros, Mexico: Washington, D.C.:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Furthering Education

I'm considering taking some graduate courses while I'm here on the U.S.-Mexico Border. I've got the free time (unmarried, no kids, nothing to do in Matamoros in the evenings), and I've recently rekindled a desire to further learning.

Brownsville (the Texas town on the opposite side of the border) has a small university named University of Texas-Brownsville, aka UTB, that is literally within biking distance from my house in Matamoros. They're not the most prestigious university around, but considering it's convenience, I'm looking into getting a master's degree there. They offer various degrees, but the ones I'm most interested in are a M.A. in Spanish Translation, a Masters of Public Policy and Management, and an M.B.A.. Most of those programs are 36 hours each, so I don't really know if I can finish before my tour is up, but I'm going to look into it. There's also a 15 hour program to get a Graduate Certificate in Spanish Translation, which I suppose could be my back-up plan.

I'm just not really sure I'm going to do it or not. There are a few negatives on my pros and cons list. First, getting a masters won't have much, if any, impact on my job with the State Department whatsoever. My salary won't increase, and I won't necessarily get any better jobs. Why should I bother? It's certainly not necessary to possess graduate degrees to move up in the Foreign Service, not to mention that there are some (albeit quite competitive) programs available where I can get an assignment to get a master's degree arranged by the State Department. I think I like that idea most!

The other negative is how much it will tie me down to Brownsville/Matamoros for the next two years. If I have class, I can't really skip out and go on random vacations as much as I want, which is certainly an important consideration for me at this point. I don't know... perhaps I just need to accept that fact and hunker down to do it.

The pro list is sparse, but the pros are pretty strong. First, it would be pretty cheap to get it from UTB. Second, as I've already mentioned, I've got the spare time to do it, and the opportunity to do it here at the border region is unique and would be nearly impossible overseas, unless I did an entirely online course. The number one reason, though, is simply that I just love learning. Ever since I graduated I've felt like I want to keep studying, to keep learning. I have little-to-no background in business or management, which I feel would be important and useful for my continued career with the Department.

In any case, I'm considering it. I'll probably try to arrange a meeting with a counselor at UTB sometime soon to discuss my situation and find out if I can even finish in time before my tour is up. I suppose I could always request to extend my assignment, but I'd rather not have to do that.

We'll see. Until next time...peace.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Props to Ops

I know I've been a little absent from the blog recently - sorry! Sometimes it's nice to take a little break every now and then to focus on other things. I've got some fun trips planned for the upcoming weeks, but until then I just wanted to share this with you, in case you haven't seen it.

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the State Department Operations Center. The first time I heard about the Ops Center was from a great (and humorous) WaPo article about it. I operate best under pressure and when time is limited, so I was fascinated by how the Ops center works 24/7, tirelessly, to keep the State Department moving.

Monday, May 2, 2011

On OBL's Death

It's been less than 24 hours since the world found out that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces. There is certainly a lot more information yet to come in the days ahead, but I would just like to repost a few things for the sake of highlighting them.

This is certainly an historic event. I'm not sure if it's one of those "remember where you were" events for me personally, but it absolutely is an historic and future-shifting event nonetheless. Humorously, I found out by none other than Twitter, the internet medium I used to scoff at and dismiss as a fad. Who would've thought it would be how I would come to find out that OBL had been killed? (On a side note, it also appears that Twitter was the very first place the event was reported - the tweeter just didn't know that his tweet was so important.)