After being involved in a dispute, it’s advisable to let the dust settle and one’s emotions cool before mentally revisiting it to identify lessons learned. Having thus allowed some time to elapse since our months-long dispute with the State Department, we thought it might be instructive – as much for ourselves as for other FSOs who read this blog – to dissect the incident. Read more
Posts from the ‘Foreign Service’ Category
The end of the year has a tendency to sneak up without much warning in Rwanda. Unlike its neighbors – and, for that matter, most other countries we’ve called home – which take a break from official business around mid-December, Rwanda keeps chugging along without too much holiday fanfare. Last week, for example, the ruling party held its thirtieth anniversary party congress, and this week the entire country is focused on its annual National Dialogue.
The distance between New York City, where D grew up, and Mahama, nestled against the bank of the Kagera River, which serves as the natural boundary between Rwanda and Tanzania, cannot be measured in miles and feet alone. A barren parcel of tse-tse fly-infested land just a couple of years ago, Mahama now hosts more than 55,000 refugees from Burundi, who began streaming into Rwanda in the spring of 2015 and continue to arrive in smaller numbers more than two years later.
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.
This week marks the beginning of our sixth month in Rwanda. 2016 has flown by in a flash and it’s a bit hard to wrap our minds around the fact that we’re nearing the midway point of our first year in Kigali. It’s even harder to believe that our car, which we shipped well before leaving Washington, still has yet to show up in Rwanda.
Up in the dead of the night — alarm set for 4 am, but too much nervous energy to sleep. 2:45am. Election coverage on one browser, the Penguins game on another. The first results start rolling in. Kentucky. Indiana. Both red, as expected, but also a bit redder than predicted by the polls. Too early to tell anything other than that the final tally will be close.
One of the more memorable modules from D’s orientation training half a dozen years ago was called “composure under fire.” The exercise consisted of a barrage of difficult questions regarding U.S. foreign policy in a particular country; the goal was to maintain one’s cool while avoiding saying anything that might make front-page news in a less-than-friendly publication.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of our fourth month in Rwanda – an excellent milestone to step back and offer a few reflections on our new temporary home. Unlike our first two Foreign Service postings, Kigali was a bit of a known quantity. We had both visited Rwanda previously and knew to a certain, limited extent what we were getting into. Of course, as anyone who has spent a decent amount of time here will attest, the longer you live in Rwanda the more you realize how little you really know.