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second revolution around the sun

Junebug’s birth provided a reset of sorts. The six weeks D spent stateside closed the book on the first year of our Rwanda tour. D flew back to Kigali a few days after the anniversary of our arrival in Rwanda to find the country gearing up for a presidential election.

We normally make a point of disconnecting from office emails while we are on vacation, and this time the choice was made a lot easier for D when the email app on his work phone crashed two days after he departed Kigali. D didn’t bother trying to fix it, preferring to take a healthy break from the relentless news cycle of political intrigue in East Africa.

The entire first week back, D felt like he was struggling through a fog. This owes partly to the jet lag, which is much worse on West-to-East travel, and partly to the difficulty of transitioning from vacation mode to the Embassy’s fast-paced work environment. On Wednesday, D thought he was making good progress on the former when he went to bed at a reasonable time (9:30pm) and got almost six hours of uninterrupted sleep. The latter felt like a blessing in the context of the previous four weeks of getting up every few hours with a newborn, but it still left D with the problem of being up half the night before going into the office feeling far from refreshed.

While D has been fighting to regain his bearings, reconnect with contacts, and catch up on the summer’s political developments, his career development officer has started quietly filling D’s inbox with helpful tips on summer bidding. Now that the midway point of our two-year Rwanda assignment has passed, we must start casting an eye towards the future. The list of available positions should be released mid-September, meaning that just as D gets back into the swing of things at work, he will be forced to devote a considerable amount of time and energy to trying to line up an onward assignment.

One year at post does not seem like a long time – just barely enough to figure out the true extent of everything one will never fully understand. And yet, in the Foreign Service, a year is enough to make one an old hand. At a roundtable meeting this week, one of D’s European counterparts called on him to make remarks as one of the longer-serving diplomats in Kigali. A sobering thought indeed.

Photos of the presidential campaigns are from Kigali Today and The New Times

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