Painful as the annual evaluation process is, bidding is unquestionably the most unpleasant aspect of working in our nation’s Foreign Service.
Posts tagged ‘bureaucracy’
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.
Time seems to be flying faster for us in Kigali than it did in DC. With both of us working full time and trying to make the most of the couple of hours we have with Munchkin each evening, the summer weeks rushed by in a flash and Rwanda’s rainy season snuck up on us unexpectedly.
Even without Munchkin’s recent antics, there are plenty of worries that keep S up at night. The one that comes up again and again is her career, or — rather — what oftentimes feels like the lack of one. We have written about the travails of being a trailing spouse in the Foreign Service community before, and many of the same realities S found challenging when we embarked on this life path five and a half years ago hold just as true today. Even with an excellent job — and S feels extremely fortunate to have landed a fantastic position in her field — the worry lingers at the back of S’s mind: what happens when this tour ends? Usually, it’s back to square one.
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.
Even for someone who loves languages and is fully cognizant of how big a privilege it is to be paid to learn one, the daily drudgery of intensive language learning can grow wearisome. After six dreary months of repetitive grammar exercises, dense articles, and forced classroom discussions, we yearned for a break from the routine. Ennui and wanderlust, as much as a desire for immersive learning, motivated us to sign up for FSI’s April immersion trip to France. Paris in the springtime — what could be better?
The grades are in, and we can honestly say that we have earned our winter vacation. Now that we have spent a week in Maine, far away both physically and mentally from the Foreign Service Institute, the hustle and bustle of year-end testing and immersion programs seems almost like a bad dream. And yet it was only a couple of weeks ago that we were preparing presentations and sitting for the first evaluations of our French language training.
The pace of instruction is not the only difference between the Foreign Service French classes and our previous language learning experiences. There are many other unique aspects of the government’s language acquisition program — some advantageous, some rather amusing, and others quite frustrating.
The trip we took to Austria a few weeks before our departure from Moldova was a fitting epilogue to our European tour. More important than the festival D attended and the stunningly beautiful Wachau Valley we visited was the opportunity to spend some time with close friends whom we might not see again for several years. In the same vein, our stopover in Ireland en route back to the United States can be accurately described as a prologue to our home leave.