My Adventures as a U.S. Diplomat and Family Man

First Stop: Tel Aviv, Israel (July 2012)!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Voyeuristic Voyage

Last night I got a sneak peek of my future life as a Foreign Service trainee at Oakwood in Falls Church, Virginia. All I can say is "me likey!" The highlights included seeing hotel-style housing nestled in a quiet suburb, kids of all ages frolicking in an outdoor pool, freshly-minted diplomats bonding over steaming seafood and ice cold beer, and non-stop talk about past and future travels (my personal favorite). All of this will be my part of my life beginning on July 18.

How did I get such a scintillating glimpse? Don't get the wrong idea. It was neither clandestine nor creepy. The short but sweet evening was actually a quick side trip during a book incubation seminar in which I participated in Washington, DC. The main purpose of the the all-day discussion was to receive expert feedback on my first crack at producing a scholarly manuscript that would contribute to our understanding of Middle East elections. Well, don't expect to pick up my highly-acclaimed book anytime soon. The past three years of dissertation work didn't appear to make muster in the exalted world of academia. Alas, maybe someone will want to publish my diplomatic memoirs one day (no, not you Wikileaks). But, I digress, as academics of all stripes tend to do.

Getting back to my Foreign Service tryst the night before, credit is entirely due to the hospitality afforded to me by Going Global, a former OA study buddy and Colorado resident who just began her A-100 training this week. She graciously invited me to visit on the day that newbies receive the highly anticipated list of available postings from which they will be assigned for their first two years. Now the countdown begins until I get my hot little hands on my own bid list. We'll see how much of my pre-conceived first tour preferences were merely wishful thinking.

In the meantime, things have been falling into place for the impending move. First and foremost, my wife received a coveted invite to the decisive stage of the foreign service officer hiring process and she scheduled her interview for September 9. She will be conveniently and comfortably located in nearby Falls Church, which by the way only took two emails for me to book our furnished apartment (more details forthcoming).

I'm feeling very confident that my young family will be happy in this interim environment. A decade ago my wife and I lived together just blocks from the U.S. Capitol amidst all the movers and shakers. We enjoyed being close to the action during those youthful and carefree years but having two small kids nowadays definitely creates a new calculus. I don't know about other diplomatic families in waiting but I fully intend to embrace the suburban lifestyle for a while. As this hilarious YouTube music video goes, "we'll be cruising in our swagger wagon!"

A final note and fitting end to this entry involves the salary offer I auspiciously received yesterday from my future employer after checking into my hotel just down the street from the State Department. Even though I had heard that some new hires have been pleasantly surprised by their compensation package, I was relieved and heartened to see how much my academic and professional experience factored into the final number. It convinced me that this is the right career for me and the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Thank you, Uncle Sam. See you soon!


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