Wednesday, November 07, 2012

New Horizons

There is a feeling of having a new start combined with the comfort of the familiar today. It may sound like I'm offering a day-after-election commentary, but actually I'm talking about language training. 

Oh, of course!

Northern Virginia was spared the brunt of hurricane Sandy's force, and we were fortunate that the only negative consequence (and some may even dispute that adjective) was that FSI was closed for three days last week. Therefore last Thursday, instead of last Monday, my Spanish language training began. I was "helicoptered" into an existing class and it seems so far that my classmates and I are a good match, skills-wise. However, they will be taking their (dreaded) formal exams in the coming month, while I have until January to eek my skills from my most recent score of 2+ to the holy grail of 3. Really, I shouldn't describe the 3 in such a lofty manner, as it simply signifies a professional competence in the language and by no means a true fluency. But it means that I could say whatever I want on topics that may even be unfamiliar, and can express myself fully without making native speakers roll their eyes or later mock me in the comfort of their homes. Heck, I may have trouble with that in my native tongue, so I'm aiming for something slightly higher than simply not embarrassing myself. When I was in language training last summer, I needed to score only a 2, commonly needed for OMSes, which meant that I could get my point across, even if somewhat crudely. 

To combine the theme of election results and Spanish training, we spent a good bit of time today reading the President's acceptance speech, which was really great. Being on the east coast and having a very early start time each morning, I wasn't able to stay awake long enough to hear it fresh last night, so it was good to take time reading it and learning all sorts of new vocabulary along the way.  

And did anyone catch that he mentioned me and my classmates? 

Okay - maybe not us specifically, but he said something that I really liked and that struck a personal chord:

"Creemos en Estados Unidos generoso, un Estados Unidos compasivo, un Estados Unidos tolerante, abierto a los suenos de una hija de inmigrantes que estudia en nuestras escuelas y jura fidelidad a nuestra bandera. Abierto a los suenos del chico de la parte sur de Chicago que ve que puede tener una vida mas alla de la esquina mas cercana. A los del hijo del ebanista de Carolina del Norte que quiere ser medico o cientifico, ingeniero o empresario, diplomatico o incluso presidente; ese es el futuro al que aspirimos. Esa es la vision que compartimos. Esa es la direccion en la que debemos avanzar. Hacia alli debemos ir."

I wrote this in Spanish so y'all could play along. (Or, you can read or listen to it here instead in English.) I think you can get the gist, and didja' also see that "diplomat" was mentioned only second to the possibility of being the president? Yeah, that was also pretty cool.

Speaking of cool, yesterday I received a message saying that my diplomatic commission is available for pick-up at the State Department now. I believe this is going to be a lovely suitable-for-framing certificate with the Great Seal on it saying that I'm a bona fide diplomat. Who'd have thought? In fact, I was also just sent a photo of an A-100 classmate WITH Secretary Clinton, holding some document, maybe one of our commissions, with the Great Seal on it. Man - what a day for her! 

So, it is an exciting time of new horizons and hopefully bright futures. At the same time, it feels like there is the opportunity to dig in and really become proficient, to strengthen abilities and continue a work already in progress. 

Perhaps the President and I have something in common after all.

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