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

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Pros and Pros of My Onward Assignment

The envelope please...And the location of my next tour goes to...Mexico City!

I know it's not so momentous when the news is two weeks old. Many readers of this blog already learned of the winner when Mrs. DiploDad broke the news on her Facebook page. Saying I got scooped is an understatement. But what seems like laziness is actually caginess on my part. I couldn't just put out some knee-jerk reaction. I had to process the news and this blog needed time to age like a fine wine...or like that jar of salsa with the blooming white mold that I forgot in the fridge.    

Don't worry. I'm very happy about getting Mexico City. Truth be told, I ranked it numero uno among several dozen other viable spots on my bid list. While I didn't devise a complex algorithm for weighing all the pros and cons of the various locations, there was one factor that stood out: it offers the best chance of Mrs. DiploDad and I serving together. This is our top priority moving forward as a tandem couple in the Foreign Service. More on that later.

I've heard a lot of good things about living and working in Mexico City based on the numerous post reports I read. Food and culture appear to top the list. Finally mastering Spanish is also a big plus. I am hoping that my two young kids will also achieve some level of fluency since their minds are still considerably more supple than mine at this point in life.  Not to be overlooked, Mexico City will be a relatively short 3.5 hour direct fight to home for occasional holidays and long weekends.

Mexico City obviously comes with some drawbacks. I'd rather not invite any second guessing by listing them here. Besides those kinds of lists tend to lead to problems. Remember that episode of Friends when Ross made up the list of pros and cons about Rachel? Wait, did I really just use a 90s sitcom as rationale? That scene was probably the fifth most cheesiest one I have provided a link to in this blog. Please tell my wife to block me and my 7-year-old son from random YouTube searches, especially the ones that involve poorly choreographed flash mobs.

For this reason, I am going to continue to bask in the positives of my onward assignment, at least until it comes time to actually pack up and move. That brings me to the emerging plan for Mr. and Mrs. DiploDad. It will likely entail some time apart but we hope it will be minimal.

In July 2014, the Mrs. will hopefully return to the U.S. to begin her A-100 orientation class, assuming the federal government is still operating and the State Department is still hiring. At that time she will also hopefully receive a bid list with Mexico City on it. The chances are good it will be, but we won't know for sure if we are both going to Mexico City or somewhere else until her Flag Day later in August. By that time, I will be back in the States on home leave and will be one of the nervous spouses sitting in the audience when she receives her assignment. We also need a bit more luck as timing is important too. If all goes according to plan, we both will do a 24-week course of Spanish. I'll then take a consular training course and will depart for Mexico City  towards the end of March, hopefully around the same time as the rest of the family. We'll see...

This is all a long ways off and it's best not to dwell too much on all the hypotheticals. For now, I am just focused on my work and life in Tel Aviv, which will be one year as of tomorrow. It's been a great first tour and I think my second tour will also be rewarding. Until then, viva la Mexico!


  1. Congrats!! It'll be great to follow along and see how life in Mexico City is. And my neuroses just increased I am on DNC on the OMS register and keep wondering if it will be luck that there will no hiring done in 2014 and I will expire. I'm hoping for a spring 2014 class myself. Please let hiring stay the same or increase for the sake of your other half and myself! I know being a tandem can be stressful but it always (well, much of the time) seems to all work out just fine. State seems pretty good about trying to accommodate.

  2. Congrats to you and Jill! As a foodie, I would be thrilled with Mexico City. We have good friends there now who just love it.

  3. congrats! Our close friends here are headed to Mexico City next summer. Let me know when/if you want to meet virtually!

    1. Thanks for the offer but I'm pretty sure that I already know the friends to whom you are referring as I was in A-100 with her. Best wishes for your transition. I continue to enjoy your blog! I started following it when you were in A-100 and now we are both looking forward to our second assignment.

  4. Dear DiplomaticDad,

    Finding your blog has given me a great new resource as I consider a bid for the Foreign Service. Thank you! If time allows, I'd welcome any experience you can share in response to a few questions I have about choosing the right career track/cone. Beyond the obvious differences in the State descriptions of political and public diplomacy officers, what are the most substantive differences you see/do everyday as a PO? For example, I have a real appetite for learning about new policy issues, building trust with interlocutors, and writing analyses. I know that PD officers also have to have a grasp of the policy issues, too, but how does a political officer act on that knowledge differently than a PD officer? Any insights you can share about what whets your appetite as a political officer would be helpful!

  5. Based on what you indicated about yourself, I think the political cone sounds like a good fit for you. I can't make generalizations about the work of PD officers but I think they are much more involved with the programmatic side.

  6. Congrats, congrats!

    I actually have a few questions for you about your current assignment - do you mind if I contact you directly? My email is theworldthatweliveinblog(at)gmail(dot)com if you wanna throw me a line.

    again, congratulations on your next assignment :)

  7. Just stumbled upon your blog through another FS site...My husband and I are currently posted in Dar es Salaam. We traveled to Mexico City a couple summers back and fell in love with the charm, the sprawl, and the vibrant culture of the city. It's on our list of cities to one day live in...along with a long list of others, of course. Anyway, looking forward to following your adventures!

  8. I know this post is old, but I just very randomly stumbled onto it. My wife and I are currently a tandem at the Embassy in Mexico City - which we love. Strangely enough, I noticed in your profile that you spent several years getting your PhD at DU - Korbel, I presume? My wife and I both got our MAs there in 2007 so I'm wondering if our paths crossed there at some point. If you have any questions about serving here (or being a tandem, which definitely has challenges) please feel free to reach out. Cheers!