Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's Despedida Season

Despedida: A farewell.

Today marked the first of something that I will have to go through time and again in this FS life: my first co-worker to ship out. Yes, there have been a handful that I've known who have left the embassy this year already, but this was the first officer from my section. Someone I sat 20 feet from every day for the past nine months, who started in the Economic Section the same day as I did, and who I rode in the van with every afternoon in the glorious Bogota traffic. She's headed to Baghdad in a few months with her tandem husband, so naturally there's the extra little worry for safety and all. Tomorrow the rest of us will be back in the office in our chairs, typing away as we were yesterday and as we will be next week, and she'll be on the plane, seeing Colombia through a tiny window.

It seems that a few things have pushed me into a sentimental mood lately.

First, the Summit concluded and we've had some really great talks with the Ambassador lately (the most recent one today) about the meaning of what was accomplished there and the exciting future we're witnessing for Latin America in general and Colombia in specific. Listening to him speak and realizing that I'm a part of it all now, that my daily paper shuffling and keyboard ticking is all part of a huge, global picture - well, that has been making me feel proud... and that tends to make me all watery-eyed. I can better understand the value of all those VIP visits that I complain about, because I'm starting to see the outcome of all that they're working on, the impact of our efforts here on everyone out there. The vantage point has expanded to incorporate the whole world, and I'm understanding that what happens here has implications far beyond this hemisphere.

Second, as I mentioned above, my co-workers are starting to leave. Like dominoes, we're going to lose five of eight members of the Economic Section in the coming three months. They've all been friends and (unknowing) mentors as I've learned to make my way in this new career and life. Each in their own way, both small and huge, they've molded my understanding of the work we're doing. They will have successors, but not replacements.

Third, I just learned that the invitations for the July A-100 class of new FS Officers have started to go out. As you may know, my Consular Officer candidacy is still deferred, meaning that even if my name does come up on the list for an invitation to become a Consular Officer - I will be skipped over until I re-activate my position on the list. So now I'm starting to get antsy. What if I defer for too long and miss my chance and due to budget restraints they don't hire any more Consular Officers? I have my Spanish language test next week and without those extra points, it is possible my name might never rise high enough to get the big call-up. I tried to contact the person who is responsible for re-activating my candidacy with a question of where I'm standing now, and - true to government form - I received an out-of-office reply until next week. I'm taking that as a sign that I need to be patient.

Fourth, I'm feeling itchy to move on. Living close to the equator means we have no true seasons here: just rainy and less rainy, so perhaps it's the sensation of an endless stretch of the same thing ahead of me that has me feeling anxious. Is it because I don't like what I'm doing now? I don't think so, because I'm finally hitting my stride and I am getting fluent in my job requirements. There is a LOT of exploring in Colombia yet for us to do. My husband is enjoying a good work schedule finally (more on that in a later post) and really, this isn't a bad ole' city to live in. I think I need to find a way to just slow down and enjoy what's around me and not keep looking at the horizon. It's just sooo tempting to start getting excited about What's Next! As I've noted before, this is an intrinsic part of this life and probably why we chose it.

Speaking of which, what's next? The results of my Spanish test and perhaps an open Consular candidacy.

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