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should we stay or should we go?

Today marks one month since we left the United States, tomorrow – a month since we arrived in Rwanda. It’s hard to believe how fast the days have flown by, but in the grand scheme of things one month is a relatively short period of time – and it is certainly a woefully inadequate time to evaluate whether we like Kigali enough to extend our tour here. And yet, that is precisely the decision we have to make in the coming weeks.


Unlike our tours in Nairobi and Chisinau, which were entry-level “directed” assignments, Kigali is D’s first mid-level position. This means not only that we had a good deal more say in where we were assigned, but also that D has the option to extend his two-year tour to three years. If D’s position did not require language training, we would have had an entire year to think about extending. Unfortunately, because D’s position is language-designated, we have to decide whether we want to make that commitment almost immediately after arriving.**

The upshot is that our dinner conversations the last few weeks have tended to gravitate towards the same subject: the pros and cons of spending an extra year in Rwanda. We’re glad to be back in the region, but will we get bored after a couple of years considering that we’ve been here before and that Rwanda offers far fewer travel opportunities than Kenya did? D’s job is interesting and given the issues he covers, he is all but guaranteed never to be bored, but will he begin to feel burned out if we stay too long? We have a comfortable living situation, but after spending almost a year in the States, the lack of certain comforts to which we had grown accustomed is conspicuous. The supermarkets, especially, seem empty to S in a way they did not in Kenya nor Moldova. Will we grow weary of our generator’s cacophonous humming every time the city power goes out or will we become so accustomed to it that the power cuts will hardly register after a couple of years? Can we convince enough friends and family to visit or will we miss home too much and regret extending? The list of rhetorical questions is endless, the answers all out of grasp.

Our thinking on this diverges a bit. D was 99 percent sure he wanted to extend even before we arrived while S still remains on the fence. On the one hand, we both have good jobs here and staying an extra year means putting off the disruptions of the next packout and move. On the other hand, we are at significantly different points in our careers, which influences greatly our perspectives. For S, specifically, there are myriad professional considerations that give rise to additional questions and make her extra cautious in her approach, lest she regret the decision to extend or, conversely, the decision not to.

The unknowns are so numerous and the variables so slippery, that S has filled several pages in a bid to untangle her thoughts – musings that will likely constitute a handful of our subsequent blog posts. For now, the decision remains unmade, but stay tuned – we’ll have to officially declare our choice sooner rather than later.

**[This is because the assignments process takes language training into account. D was assigned to Kigali in 2014 – midway through our two-year tour in Moldova – but we did not arrive here until 2016 because of long-term language training in the States. Similarly, if we do not extend our two-year tour, the Department has to assign D’s replacement during the upcoming fall bidding season – either to someone who has a year left at their current post and would require language training, or to someone who already speaks French and has two years remaining at their current assignment.]

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. A year does go by fast and they seem to go by faster as we (or I!) get older. In the grand scheme of life, one year doesn’t seem too long, but certainly it’s all relative! So I’d say a year extension isn’t so bad, but what is the alternative? Do you know where you’d end up? Any benefit to staying longer and gaining better position at / for the next post? Not sure this is helpful, but just trying to be a sounding board! :)

    August 19, 2016
    • What is the alternative? — that is of course the most important question of them all, and one to which it is impossible to know the response. :)

      August 20, 2016

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