01 November 2009

Trick-or-Treat: The Bid List Has Arrived!

Friday marked the end of our first week of "A-100 training," a reference to the room number where the first groups of Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) received orientation to the tradecraft of diplomacy.  The majority of A-100 happens at the Foreign Service Institute in Virginia.  My fellow classmates and I represent the 149th A-100 class! I feel privileged to be among such an impressive crowd, and it's still sinking in that I've finally made it here.

The most anticipated part of the first week was receiving our "bid list."  We get a single list with about ten more posts than there are people in our class.  Somewhere on that list is the name of our home for two years.  But, which one will it be?  We get to list preferences of low, medium and high.  However, we have signed up to follow the needs of the Foreign Service, so although most people get a "high" or "medium" there is no guarantee.  Much of the last few days has been spent researching posts, for which the Overseas Briefing Center provides ample information.

My sister wanted to know exactly what it is I do. "People ask me and I can't exactly say," she says.  I asked if I ought to post a link to my job here.  She said that would be helpful.

I encourage any of my law school colleagues to check out the job, as this recession has made it difficult for lawyers-in-waiting to find jobs.  However, the State Department has been authorized to hire almost triple the usual number of new FSOs.  The process can be long and arduous at times, but so is law school.  There are somewhere around a dozen or so lawyers in our class.

Many of the people at FSI stay in the same temporary housing.  As a result, there is an excellent sense of community.  Dave has met and befriended a handful of spouses already, mostly by just wandering around the complex with Aidan during the days I am at class.  His particular favorite thus far is a gorgeous Israeli woman who has a son about the same age as Aidan.

The "Oakwood" organized trick-or-treating for all the kids in the 4-building complex. I'm guessing there were around 100 apartments that participated.  It was the best setting for Aidan's first real Halloween experience.  At the beginning he had no idea what was going on, but the idea that people would let you grab big handfuls of candy out of a bowl made his little brain erupt with joy.  He was also fascinated by all the costumes.

With little time to come up with a costume because of our recent move, Dave saved the day by hand-making (!) a Domo-kun costume.  I think the oldest person who got the reference was about 25-years-old.  You can think of him as the fuzzy brown guy who sells coffee for 7-Eleven; or perhaps the mascot for Japan's NHK television station; or perhaps you know the reference which should not be linked to in polite company.