Tag Archive for 'training'

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Winding down

A-100 is starting to wind down; our last day of class is on Friday. The new class starts about a week after we finish and the focus now is all on “what’s next?” We’re all going to start scattering next week. Some will be off to main State to start their one year assignments in DC or “bridge assignments,” some are starting language or additional functional training, and then some of us have “gap days.” I have a couple of weeks where I have to find additional training or something else which justifies the paycheck. I have a couple of ideas which I will have to run past my CDO but right now I have no real idea what I am going to be doing for the next few weeks. I’m hoping to take advantage of the Rosetta Stone access to start resuscitating my Spanish ability.

In other news, probably about 20 minutes after I received my assignment I had an e-mail in my box from my “social sponsor” in Juarez. A few hours later I had a slew of e-mails from other people at post welcoming me and the other new members. Since then my e-mail box has steadily filled with additional welcome e-mails. Needless to say I feel very welcome and  excited to be joining the team!  I’ve also already begun plotting all the places I’d like to see while I’m in Mexico. Top of the list is Oaxaca, land of the tasty grasshoppers.

Friday is our formal swearing-in ceremony. We were actually sworn-in on day one (so we could get paid) but they end A-100 with a more formal swearing-in which family and friends can attend. They also invite someone senior to do the actual swearing-in and give a short keynote. Given that the Secretary visited us in the first week, which was just fortuitous timing since she was out touring FSI, I think it safe to say she probably won’t be our swearer-iner. No word yet on who will. It should be a fun time though and then I’ll be off to my “gap days.”

Flag Day Eve

Tomorrow is the big day! This week they have kept us too busy to really spend too much time anticipating flag day. We had our “core skills” rotations. So we worked on our public speaking, did another writing session and learned some of the common pitfalls to avoid in a Foreign Service career. My favorite session was the one I was dreading the most,”Composure Under Fire.” It had two parts, in the first we were given tips on how to handle the “tough questions.” In the second session our classmates fired some of the really difficult questions at us in rapid succession. As the day went on the questions had a tendency to get progressively crazier. I had a couple questions where I felt a bit like a deer in headlights, but I was actually surprised at how much more at ease I felt handling those questions after the session. I’m not going to claim I’ll do a spectacular job answering them if I do get them in the wild but I at least feel like I have a few good tricks to keep myself doing damage!

The public speaking was another story. I am not an accomplished public speaker. In fact I tend to avoid it like the plague. I’ve been informed that I talk insanely fast. I watched the DVD  they made of my speech and personally I don’t know what he was talking about, I talk at what I think is a perfectly acceptable speed. Clearly people just need to listen faster. 😉 It’s a family curse, we all seem to talk really fast. The funniest advice I got was that I should tan before speaking on camera. Apparently, the camera had trouble adjusting to my skin because I am so pale.

Tomorrow afternoon is of course the BIG day when we finally find out where we are going. The closer flag day has gotten the less and less I have become married to any specific post or region. I’m actually at this point excited to go to anywhere on the bid list. I suppose that is a good thing. I have about 30 posts that I think I might realistically get, but I think I’ll be excited no matter where I go. We shall just have to see what flag day yields! I can’t believe how quickly A-100 is coming to a close. Next week is my last week in A-100 and then off to more training. I’ll find out tomorrow exactly what that training will be.

Bidding and Beyond

Well my final bid list is in and it is out of my hands. I’ll know in two weeks where I am going! I’d be pretty jazzed to get any one of my highs or mediums and pretty content with most of my lows. We shall see what flag day yields.

In between bidding they have kept us busy getting oriented to the Foreign Service and the department. We’ve learned the basics of crafting memos, cables, ect. and have had a lot of opportunities to meet and talk with some individuals who are pretty high up in the department about FS life. Probably the highlight thus far was last Friday when the Secretary toured the Foreign Service Institute. She stopped by my A-100 class, so yes I got to “meet” the Secretary! She stayed for about twenty minutes and took a few questions so it was pretty exciting.

Next up is the “Woods”. For as long as pretty much anyone can remember, A-100 has included a leadership and team building retreat to WVA. Ours is next week and I’m looking forward to it and the infamous “follies!”