Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Return of an FSO
The Foreign Service is a strange and unique thing, and this becomes more apparent with each passing day. This evening we received the first return visit by one of our already-departed A-100 colleagues. (Note: for those of you unfamiliar with the Foreign Service, A-100 is the term for the two-month entering/orientation seminar in the Foreign Service).
Jeff left for his assignment in Tokyo back in January, and he came back this week to get married. Almost all of the class members who are still in DC doing long-term training showed up at the appointed happy hour location to spend a few hours with him. The majority of us had all sorts of questions generally following the "what's it like?" theme, and Jeff was gracious enough to share some tidbits from his experiences at post so far. He has really been enjoying himself, and he says his work in Tokyo, dealing with American Citizens there, has been really interesting and rewarding. It was great to see him, and some of his stories from his first few months at post were really entertaining.
One of the most fascinating things about the evening's conversation, though, was the difference in perspectives between someone who's been out working and those who have been here training. Jeff commented a number of times that it seems to him like such a short time ago that a much larger group of us were gathered together at another happy hour to toast our January departees, of which he was one. Each time he mentioned this, though, the rest of us looked at each other with disbelief, and invariably one of us would say something to the effect of, "Wow, that was SO long ago!" Perhaps it's the old thing about people unconsciously imagining that the worlds they leave behind simply stand still until they return. Or maybe it's the fact that every last one of us who is still here has been chomping at the bit for months wanting to get out and start working.
At any rate, I know I'm not alone in wishing Jeff a wonderful next few days and a beautiful wedding on Saturday. I'm sure he and Lisa will have a great time next week in Tahiti, and I look forward to seeing them once I get to their neighborhood in August.