The most highly anticipated day of S’s training came and went in a flash of nervous apprehension and high-energy excitement. With parents, spouses, children, and friends crowded into a big auditorium at the Foreign Service Institute, the entire Flag Day ceremony lasted barely half an hour. A few speeches were made, which were greeted alternatively with big cheers and nervous titters. Then the first flag flashed on the big screen, and the rest of the ceremony raced by in an exuberant blur.
There are 82 people in S’s training group. 82 flags were put up on the screen one at a time, the post announced, a name called. Ambassador designate to Somalia and class mentor Don Yamamoto handed each FSO their flag. By and large, it seemed like the vast majority of S’s classmates got their top choice – or at least something off their high preference list. Some were too relieved for words, but most made their enthusiasm palpable. They cheered and strutted, and more than a few forgot to pick up their training folder after receiving their country flag, forcing the photographer to steer them in the right direction.
To combat her nervousness, S kept a pen and notepad at hand and wrote down her colleagues’ assignments, a practice she kept up after her own name had been called and the relief of having her fate decided (for the better, we hope) had washed over her. Our top five bids had little in common other than that they were all at missions where the projected vacancies for next summer suggest D could credibly bid on more than one position. And we are quite pleased that S was assigned to one of these top five bids.
So next summer we will be moving to the Philippines! This means that S will have to learn Tagalog – a language she is not quite sure how to pronounce correctly but will need to master over the course of the next nine months. It also means that the easy part is behind us, and that D will need to spend the next several months trying to line up a position in Manila. Both are good problems to have. Lastly, it means that we will be in DC for another year. We could not be more thrilled.