The first four months of our Rwanda tour we mostly stayed put, only leaving Kigali a couple of times for weekend trips to Akagera and Nyungwe and venturing out of the country once to play in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Kampala. Starting with D’s trip to Bangkok, the last two months by contrast have been full of travel and adventure. We made a couple of jaunts north of the border to Uganda, spent a weekend tracking golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park, and just returned home from two wonderful weeks in Namibia and a visit to Victoria Falls.
Posts tagged ‘diplomacy’
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.
Seven years in the making, an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol was adopted in Kigali in the wee hours of the morning last Saturday. Over 170 nations committed to phase out the use of a powerful heat-trapping chemical, which will cut one degree Fahrenheit from the projected increase in atmospheric temperature. With the whole Embassy working tirelessly to support our negotiating team, this diplomatic achievement feels incredibly gratifying – both because it is a big deal in the fight against climate change and also because it feels good to make a contribution, however small, to bend the arc of history in the right direction.
Last week, President Obama hosted a summit on refugees, bringing together world leaders who pledged their countries to increase financing of humanitarian support for the 65 million people who have been displaced by conflict worldwide, promised to increase the number of refugees accepted for resettlement, and committed to providing a more dignified life for refugees by increasing access to education and employment opportunities in frontline nations that are hosting large refugee populations.
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.
“We are gonna put the POW in the WOW to make pow-wow. We are gonna razzle and dazzle you.” The translator did as good a job as she could, but it is highly likely that the full meaning of these words eluded the crowd of Moldovans gathered in the half-filled auditorium of the Bălţi House of Culture. What they could not convey verbally, however, the Native Pride dancers certainly transmitted with their feet.
We had been counting on a quiet night in last Thursday. It was going to be our last night together for two weeks. D was planning a weekend trip to Western Ukraine over Labor Day to play ultimate while S was going to spend some time with her family, who were traveling through the Netherlands and Germany. Instead, we wound up driving an hour and a half to watch a soccer game in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria.
A few years ago, when we still lived in Chicago, S got invited to attend a public health conference in Denver. We both went, taking advantage of the opportunity to do a bit of hiking and catch up with friends we had not seen in years. While S was at the conference, D spent the day hanging out with a friend from high school who had moved to nearby Boulder and was working on his first film. At dinner, Jeff told us how, after several years of editing, he had nearly finished putting the footage together, but that he did not like the way he was telling the story and was thinking about re-editing his near-final cut.