Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Impatient Rambling

Some preliminary research into the sort of training I'll be undergoing has revealed few specifics. This seems to be partly by design (I repeatedly find references to requests from the FS itself that details of the training and application process not be discussed), but due also in part to the broad nature of the work itself. Each posting will have its own unique set of requirements and challenges. This brings to mind all the reserved advice people gave when I was joining the JET Program.

One thing which surprised me was how few people the FS actually employs. According to the 2003 edition of Inside a U.S. Embassy, the FS "is made up of 11,000 Americans, two-thirds of whom staff our 259 embassies and consulates abroad and one-third of whom work in Washington, D.C." Each embassy also employs local staff from within the host country, and these Foreign Service Nationals add about 30,000 people to the FS staff. Of course, both sets of numbers are probably slightly higher now that we've further engaged Iraq and Afghanistan. As of 2005, there are only 25 countries not home to a U.S. embassy or consulate*, and all but a handful of those are under the perview of a U.S. embassy in a neighboring country.
    (You're probably wondering why I'm being so detailed. Truthfully, I'm halfway afraid of being subjected to some sort of popquiz my first day of training.)

    I also now know that my eventual destination won't be fixed until my 6th week of training. I keep assuming that I'll end up in Japan, but it's really not safe to assume anything at this point. Other trainees' typical bid lists are about 25 to 30 countries long, and pretty varied. Wherever it is I go, I most likely won't be staying there more than a year; they tend to move the junior officers around quite frequently.

    As I'm typing this, I'm listening to William Shatner perform a cover of the Pulp song "Common People," and it's disturbingly good.

    *for those of you who care, those countires are: Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Bhutan, Comoros, Dominica, Guinea & Bissau, Iran, Kirbati, North Korea, Libya, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Monaco, Nauru, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, San Marino, Sao Tome & Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

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