Friday, August 17, 2012

A-100 Journal 5- Flag Day

We were told to gather in the auditorium by 3:15. The place was full by 3. Since before we took the written test, some of us years ago, there was always the one question: "Where will you go?" Suddenly we were only twenty minutes away from finding out. On the one hand, we would suddenly know what the next year or two held for us. On the other, we would NOT be going to all those other cool places that were on the list.

Going in to the event, my family full of Class 2 EFMs had left us with only 6 or 7 available overseas posts, plus a slew of Washington, DC jobs. A DC job would have meant having to move out of our apartment in a few weeks' time while hoping to stay in the same school district. It would also have meant a significant decrease in financial stability. I had firmly convinced myself that DC was where we were headed. It would just be too easy to slot us in there.

We had been told to have someone supportive nearby for Flag Day, because after all the rule for FSO's is "go where they tell you to go, do what they tell you to do, and say what they tell you to say." We had no right or expectation for anything, but hoped REALLY hard to be sent overseas.

I had the bid list in front of me when they started reading off names and posts, and was writing the names in for the first few. At that point the stress and anticipation made it impossible to write, so I put the papers down and started with the breathing exercises. A few names were called for places we couldn't qualify for medically, and my classmates screamed in joy and went up the center aisle to claim their flag. 

Then the DC flag came up for the first time, and I thought "here we go." Someone else got that post, and they were happy. So was I since it wasn't mine.

About 10 posts in, a flag that many people mistake for the Polish flag came up. However, it was one I knew very well: 

This is the Indonesian flag, and our embassy is in Jakarta. I had ranked this high, and it was my personal number 2. Hard language training, consular coned, and the timing was so right for our family. They said my first name (one which I shared with others in my class) and my middle initial (one which I did not). I was half way out of my chair before the echo died on my last name and was running. I realized where I was far too late to walk up the center aisle and just kept running all the way around the class and back to the podium. Our class sponsor probably feared she was going to be hip-checked into the wall, but no. A flag, a training schedule, and a future were laying there in my hands as my breathing slowly returned to normal.

My wife was trying to record the event. We can see the Indonesian flag, and then suddenly a chair and peoples' feet as she begins to freak out and forgets the camera. Classic. Our whole family is very excited.

And there it was. Stability, financial security, a new and very challenging language and an amazing first post. Bali, Sumatra and Australia an easy flight away. Will it be perfect? Well, the traffic, heat, and cockroaches you can ride say no. Am I thrilled beyond my wildest dreams? Oh, yes.

The only sad thing is that I only have a week left with this amazing group of people I have come to know and respect. Some of them were certainly not thrilled with their first posts, though you would never know from how everyone reacted. A surprising number of classmates I talked to got posts they rated high. They could tell I was happy and they were happy for me. 

So, here we are. I sold insurance in Laredo, Texas for 9 years in what I have been told by the State Department is "la idioma de la frontera" (the language of the border), something that is not really Spanish at all. Their solution: a Southeast Asian archipelago. Of course.

All I can say to all this is what I have been saying all along. Thank you, thank you, and thank you. I have been blessed beyond imagining, and I know it very well.



  1. How exciting for you! Congrats!! What were the other international possibilities with a class 2 med clearance?

    1. GH, it depends on why you are Class 2. We ended up with a smattering of cities around the globe where the medical systems and our particular problems matched up. We were also VERY surprised at some of the Western European capitals we could not bid. It's a pain in the neck, but if you start working at the beginning of A-100 and stay proactive with both MED and your CDO, you can expand the possibilities.

    2. Thanks for the reply and the info. Doubt we will actually ever get into A-100, but if it ever happened it is good to know there is a strategy for the Class 2. Our youngest doesn't have medical problems, yet, at least that we know about, but she has developmental delays and we are unsure how that would play out overseas. Thanks again and good luck with your planning for Indonesian. Sounds like an awesome first post.

  2. Cool beans! I'm so happy for you. The closest I've gotten is Kuala Lumpur which was lovely. I guess I'll have to figure out a way to get myself across the ocean again!

    So what are you going to be learning - Malay or Javanese (or something else)?

    Is the city as cosmopolitan as it seems? I know it was a crossroads sort of city all the way back to the time when it was the "Dutch East Indies". It has a huge literacy rate, as I'm sure you know. But it's HUGE! What - 10 million, 12 million?

    If it's as wonderful as it seems, maybe I'll let you blaze the trail and then get me an EFL job and I'll follow later!

    1. The required language for the post is Indonesian. However, just like Amharic is the language everyone speaks in Ethiopia but they all also have a local language, I know there are many different languages there like Javanese, Balinese, etc. At least Indonesian uses the Latin alphabet!

  3. It was a true pleasure to be in the front row for your victory jog and high-five tour around the room. I just wish it was caught on camera!
    Buena suerte mis amigos!
    (You'll have to tell me how to say that in your new language in a few months.)

    1. Caitlin, you are such a neat lady! It was really special that we got to meet you two. Enjoy the land of endless tortillas, oops! I mean sunsets! :)

  4. Congratulations!! Looking forward to your adventure preparations ~ now you know the answer to that jacket question plus more!!

  5. That is super exciting! Congrats. We are heading to heading to orientation in September (my husband is IMS) and have a couple of med 2's in our bunch of 5. I'm thrilled that you guys were able to work out something that was good for everyone. Good luck! Hopefully we will meet up at Oakwood at some point.

  6. Congratulations!!
    I was hoping I might be able to pick your brain a bit too. I've been looking into applying for the FS and would love to get your perspective on the consular track (I've worked in immigration before, and enjoyed it, plus I would love to be able to help set up educational exchanges and the sort).

    I know you may not even be in Indonesia yet, but I really would love to get your opinion on how the Consular track is shaping up to be.

    I also want to pick your brain because I'm currently a grad student studying SE Asia and Indonesia... I would LOVE to, if I were accepted to the FS, get a post to Indonesia. So, how do you like it??

    Really, any advice whatsoever would be so appreciated!