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.
Posts tagged ‘training’
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.
When does the inevitable become truly real? At what point does the near future undeniably intrude on the present and color every moment leading up to its imminent arrival? When did our move to Rwanda morph from being the next chapter in our Foreign Service career, which could be compartmentalized and vaguely ignored, to a fact of life as undeniable as an onrushing Mack truck?
If you’ve read D’s previous tribute to sports superstition and the pain of fandom, then you’ll understand why there is currently so much relief and jubilation in our household.
Today, we were invited to make a brief presentation of our immersion experiences to the French department at FSI. We showed a short photo montage, played a funny video clip, cracked a few jokes, and answered a handful of questions. It’s unclear how much the roomful of instructors got from our presentation, but then again — how does one cram two weeks’ worth of experiences into five minutes?
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?
There are two main reasons that our blog falls into disuse. Either there is nothing going on that is worth blogging about, or — as is more often the case — there is so much going on that we don’t have the time to even give the blog a passing thought. The last month or so falls squarely into the latter category. In the last five weeks, we travelled abroad for the first time since starting language training in November and made some monumental progress with our French while Munchkin has added so many new shenanigans to his repertoire that we sometimes barely recognize our son.
Washington, D.C. does not know how to handle winter, as anyone who has lived in the District will readily attest. At the slightest hint of snow, public schools close, government buildings shut down, stores sell out of their stocks, and public transportation grinds to a half. With snowfall this weekend predicted to reach the highest level in a hundred years, potentially, D.C. authorities hit the panic button early. Schools closed before a single snowflake had fallen. We also got half a snow day, with FSI joining other federal agencies in dismissing all staff by noon.
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.