06 December 2009
We are off to the Dominican Republic!!
Flag Day, 2009. Flag day is a tradition in the Foreign Service Officer orientation class. It's truly an amazing moment. Some people jump and cheer, others suffer temporary shock -- regardless of how they ranked their assigned assignment. One of my orientation coordinators share this fantastic story (paraphrased):
"I ranked H-- at the top of my list. First, actually. No one else wanted it as much as me. I told my friends that's where I was going. I told my entire family. On flag day they held up the H-- flag, paused, and called my name. Suddenly, my heart sank. I felt like my life was over."
In all fairness, the day does define an FSO's destiny for the next 1-3 years. In the extreme, it can be the first step in a life-long connection with your post. After they held up the red and blue flag of the Dominican Republic and called, my name, I felt numb. By the time I sat down I was already calculating how my family would like it, what it would mean for my language training, and what this meant for my career. It's silly, but the State Department admits it likes to hire "planners," so I think this is a normal reaction for many of us!!
My conclusion: Gee, if the State Department wants to send me to a tropical paradise for two years, where the weather is warm, the fruit is plentiful, and my son can be fluent in Spanish before he is 5-years-old, then I'll take it! I mean, look at the pictures on the official country homepage!
Dave has decided he wants to track down the Boston Red Sox in the Dominican Republic. David Ortiz, aka "Papi," is from the DR and has a children's foundation that helps fund pediatric critical care: http://www.davidortizchildrensfund.org/. He's also considering working for the embassy, or maybe just hanging out in a hammock with some Dominican rum. The way I see it, he has a little equity coming to him from supporting me through law school.
Tomorrow I start Spanish language training. The introduction to language training they gave us in A-100 "freaked me out" a little bit. I imagine I'll be fine, but the speech they like to give goes a little like this: "So, if you majored in a language in college you probably got to a 1+ score according to our system. You might have made it to a 2 if you were really good. We're going to take you from a 0 to a 3 in six months." Wow. And wow. Well, I'm just grateful that learning a language is part of my job. They're actually paying me to do this!!!! Yipee!!! (Jealous, anyone?)