Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Nervous Waiting

First, it was nerves in terms of starting my "tradecraft" training - meaning, basically, "How to be a General Services Officer" class. So far, my class of 30+ general services officers, facility managers, and local staff, all of whom are going to or are already posted in different embassies around the world, have spent four weeks on contracting, a week talking about how our sections work in an embassy environment, and we're just now finishing two weeks of logistics management.  Next week we start learning about lease management! It's a firehose-type class, and a bit of death-by-powerpoint, but incredibly interesting for all of that.

For example, today we learned all about the various programs which are dedicated to outfitting ambassador's residences at an embassy. It took several hours, to give you an idea of how extensive they are!

Next, it was nerves about getting ready for the big move to Mali. Making lists of things to buy, things to get rid of, chores to get done... that's been going on for months. Now it's time to shop, shop, shop! With the help of my parents, I've gotten closer to knocking the shopping out. The main shopping left is for consumables - food, toilet paper, etc. - to take with me. My biggest hurdle here has been to resist feeling like I must build a mini-Target in my apartment in Mali. Many of the items I will need will be available there, though sometimes sporadically or very expensive. I have to remember that it's possible to survive without bringing tons of stuff with me...

Then, of course, the nerves centered around the dreaded Thanksgiving drive down to my folks' house in North Carolina. Thankfully, while there was certainly more traffic and my drive was about an hour and a half longer than usual, it wasn't too bad. And, I have to say, it was really a terrific Thanksgiving. I spent lots of time talking about my upcoming move and life in Mali with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law, and we enjoyed a lovely bout of practically-warm and dry weather. We were even graced with two American eagles flying over the little lake in the neighborhood!

And now, the nerves are centered around the recent events in Bamako. On November 20th, there was an armed attack of a major hotel frequented by Westerners in Bamako, with many civilians killed. It was scary and hard to read about it first thing in the morning, and follow the news all day, and then talk about it with friends, family, and colleagues who all reached out to see how I was doing.

Today, the US Embassy in Bamako went on what's called "authorized departure" status, which means that embassy employee family members can be evacuated, and some non-emergency embassy staff as well. This is not a full evacuation of the embassy, but it's still serious. I'm not sure yet what, if any, impact there will be on my departure date.

All in all, I've been doing a lot of serious thinking lately, and am trying to be well-informed but not feel overwhelmed by it all. Meanwhile, most of my colleagues from my A-100 introductory class back in January are either already at their posts or heading out in the next few weeks. I recognize fewer people in the halls of FSI these days, which is a little sad and a little exciting.

Soon, perhaps, it will be my turn to head out into the world.


1 comment:

  1. Lots of work, study, thinking ... and hurry up and wait.
    Been a bit of a roller coaster! but most interesting and fun to share with you.