Just call me Harry

Many of my friends and family were a little bit confused when I told them I had been accepted into the Foreign Service. “You’ll be doing what?” was a common answer. I explained what I knew about the process, and some of the duties I might have overseas. About 25,000 people apply for the Foreign Service every year. The process is intense, and can last multiple years. From those 25,000, only about 2% are eventually hired to begin training as Foreign Service Officers. I’m in that 2%, which is pretty exciting to say the least. I have started explaining the A-100 as the equivalent of Hogwarts in Harry Potter. But instead of Hagrid coming to tell me I am a wizard, I had an email telling me I’d made it to the coveted hiring register. A few days later, I had an invitation to a training class. And here I thought I was done with school forever… hagrid In a few weeks, I will be heading to Hogwarts, aka the “Foreign Service Institute,” in Arlington, Virginia, to begin training in all things diplomacy. A-100 is the name used for each incoming class of Foreign Service Officers. According to Wikipedia “The purpose of the class is to provide orientation to the United States Department of State, information on embassy operation and foreign affairs, intelligence collection and dissemination, State Department computer systems, and the roles different categories of personnel perform in the conduct of diplomacy. It is the basic job-orientation course for the United States Foreign Service before diplomats branch off into different career tracks or geographic specialties.”

The initial training is about 6 weeks, followed by a month or so of my job-specific training. Then, if I’m lucky enough to learn a language, I can stay an extra few months. Then off to some place in the world. About 5 weeks in, there is something called a “Flag Day,” which has the potential for being amazing or being the worst day in your life, since you will find out where you will spend the first 2 or so years as a fresh FSO. As a single person with no baggage (aka kids), I am actually hoping for a hardship post my first tour. I’ve lived 5 years already in countries designated as “Hardship posts” by the Foreign Service, and lived outside the bubble of the Foreign Service world – a la mud hut for 2 years and in a tent in the rainforest for 2 years. I’m hoping that many new FSOs might not want these types if they have families or if they are just used to a little higher standard of living, and I can have more ‘choice.’ Sub-Saharan Africa please and thank you. Oh yes, did I mention that for the first two tours, you don’t get to choose where you go? You get to bid on a bunch of different  places, but in the end, we all signed a lil’ form that said we had Worldwide Availability. I could just as easily end up in China or Mexico…

Like any new wizard, I went to Diagon Alley (aka Macy’s) to purchase some new robes this weekend. Going from a business casual job to a business professional one is going to take some getting used to. I am not big on dressing up, but I guess I need to get used to it. I do look a little snazzy in a suit, though. One of the perks of moving with the Department of State is that they send movers to descend on your house and pack everything up and ship it to storage for you (or send it to you as air freight). That will be a far cry from when my poor parents helped me lug my mattress and gigantic antique dresser up a few flights of stairs. I don’t actually have that much for them to ship – one of the perks of being a constant nomad is that I just don’t have that much stuff. I will be giving away my hand-me-down furniture since many of the posts overseas are already furnished. Hopefully this clears things up a bit? In a nutshell, I’ll be placed in an Embassy abroad after lots of fun training. There, I will help represent America to the world and get to travel and live in a new country every few years. Since my life goal is to explore as much of this little planet as I can and I like people for the most part, this new job is a match made in heaven.

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2 Responses to Just call me Harry

  1. danv06 says:

    It’s a funny thing with bid lists – everyone has different priorities. In our class, we were told that every single post had at least two “high” bids.

    Liked by 1 person

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