Just quickly wanted to share some exciting new developments on the Foreign Service front:
1) First and foremost, my wife received the good news today that she passed the Foreign Service Written Exam (FSWE), which is the first step in becoming a Foreign Service Officer (FSO)! She still has a long ways to go before we rock the world together as a FSO tandem but this is a real accomplishment given the unspoken fact that the test has become more challenging. To prepare over the last couple months, I mercilessly thrust upon her wonkish books about economic and foreign policy. She also spent a good chunk of her precious free time reviewing basic American civics. On the day of the exam, she had to endure a snow storm and the computerized testing system crashing not one, but twice over a grueling 5-hour afternoon! Now the next step involves submitting a series of concise essays to assess intellectual, interpersonal, managerial skills. If her responses impress an all-powerful panel of nameless bureaucrats, she'll be invited to the decisive oral assessment. Stay tuned. In the meantime, I am so proud of her!
2) The second piece of news involves my potential start date. I had previously opted to defer until September. There were a variety of good reasons for this decision but I have been going back and forth over the last couple weeks. As of tonight, I have decided to make myself available for the July class. In a nutshell, the current budget impasse leads me to believe that it would best to begin training sooner rather than later. My position is relatively secure but all the bravado coming from Capitol Hill does cause some concern. In fact, some members of Congress (sitting in their leather armchairs) have called to "cut the fat" from the State Department budget. I don't think many of them understand the importance of diplomacy these days and the work our diplomats do. With all the recent strife in the Middle East, has anyone noticed that not a single American has been taken hostage or killed? Boys and girls, that fact is because of the dedication and hard work of thousands of FSOs who have been negotiating with local actors and coordinating the evacuation of citizens. We need more of them in hotspots.
3) The third tidbit relates to my academic endeavors. As I mentioned in my last blog, the protests and revolutions sweeping across the Middle East have not only cast stones against decrepit regimes but also the central argument of my dissertation. Well, I've managed to regain my footing and find some relevance for my ideas. I recently published an online article about prospects for future elections in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. More importantly, I will also be traveling to DC at the end of May for a book incubation seminar. I am really excited about this opportunity and feel very lucky to have a group of preeminent scholars who will be reviewing my manuscript. Having just finished teaching a course, I can now devote myself to this project. My hope is to have a book under contract before I begin my Foreign Service career. It would be an excellent calling card!
Well, that's all for now. I'll share more thoughts in the weeks ahead.