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.
Posts tagged ‘Embassy’
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.
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.
Another week behind us, another month in the books. Munchkin started school on Wednesday, but that was the only indication that the summer months have passed and September is upon us. One wouldn’t know it by the weather, which remains exactly as pleasant as it was the day we arrived – warm, sunny days alternating with pleasantly cool nights every twelve hours, as regular as clockwork.
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.
Serving overseas, the Fourth of July is a big deal. It is the Embassy’s largest public event – an opportunity to showcase our culture and celebrate our nation’s independence. Given how much work goes into putting the fete together, one forgets sometimes how the holiday is an even bigger deal back home. Parades in even the smallest of rural towns, fireworks displays, jets flying overhead. Being back in the United States to celebrate the Fourth of July for the first time in several years not only gave us a much greater appreciation for Independence Day, but also enabled us to steep ourselves in American culture in a way that is all but impossible overseas.
We like to joke sometimes that home leave is the best part of the Foreign Service. Although the Congressional mandate amounts to an extra vacation on U.S. soil, we have also come to appreciate fully the reason for its existence. Living in another country is a constant exercise in assimilation, as the mind learns to integrate the peculiarities of a new culture into its everyday routine. After a certain point, when the odd becomes commonplace, some aspect of one’s own culture start seeming foreign. Congress was wise to require Foreign Service officers to spend some time at home in between overseas assignments to give them an opportunity to re-familiarize themselves with the United States.