Saturday, August 20, 2011
And the winner is...
Tel Aviv, Israel! First of all, let me say that I am ecstatic to have received this assignment! It was at the top of our list and was highly coveted among many others in my A-100 class. In fact, it was so popular that my wife and I had pretty much written it off and had been focusing on posts which we felt we had a more realistic chance.
The lead-up to the big announcement was excruciating. The ceremony didn't start until 3:35pm and I was one of the last names to be called. Finally, the blue star of David appeared and I heard my name. After a two-handed fist pump into the air, my mind re-entered my body and I somehow managed to put one foot in front of the other to walk up to the podium. I vaguely remember shaking hands with a high level ambassador, someone else handling me a folder with all the details of my assignment and then plopping back in my chair for the few remaining minutes. Afterwards, I floated around the room for about an hour and then went out with some of my classmates to celebrate. Late last night, my wife and I sat dumbfounded in our apartment. Even this morning, Tel Aviv is still sinking in. Where do I begin?
For starts, I was assigned to be a political officer in one of the most strategically important U.S. embassies in the world. Getting an in-cone job for the first tour was my number one priority and a Tel Aviv post is a real coup for my career. Serving in the Middle East checks another box and pretty much leaves the world wide open for my second tour as a consular officer. The post also has much to offer my wife. There are many employment opportunities in the embassy and she will have a very good opportunity to advance her own prospects of joining me in the Foreign Service (more details on that will be provided in the coming weeks) after our first tour ends in July 2014.
Speaking of which, the timing also works out very well. We get to stay in our cushy apartment until next July for functional training and Hebrew. My older son will get to spend the whole year of kindergarten in a highly regarded school here in Falls Church, Virginia. Moving to Tel Aviv next summer will also facilitate his transition to the American school that he will attend there. We're still considering various options for my younger son who will still be in preschool.
As for Tel Aviv's livability, we really scored in that department. Based on the little that I've read, the city sounds like the Miami of the Middle East with great beaches and a pulsating nightlife. In fact, the Lonely Planet travel guide anointed Tel Aviv as the third hottest city for 2011. I doubt my young family will partake in such hedonism but I might have to start frequenting the gym so I don't embarrass myself. I think one of the biggest perks of the post will also be the accessibility to other attractions in the region. I've already promised my wife a trip to the Greek isles.
Well, we've got a lot to think about in the coming days but at least we can plan for the future with location and timing in mind. I promise to provide updates along the way but this blog won't be nearly as climactic as the past couple months. Shalom for now!