Today I met with my CDO -- the guy who will represent me in the meeting that determines where we'll all be going. I really like him and am glad to have him as an advocate. It's also helpful that he is very forthright, and didn't hesitate to tell me that my strategy of bidding based on acquiring a 'world' (i.e., widely used) language probably wouldn't work out. There are just too many Spanish and French speakers within the Department for them to spend time training me to go to Columbia or Togo at this point. Not to say it couldn't happen. Just that it's not likely.
Now Arabic, on the other hand... Chinese... Apparently if I bid high on posts with these sorts of languages, the Department would be delighted to accommodate me.
And it makes sense. My MLAT score (a rough quantification of language learning ability) was higher than average, and I already have experience with one difficult language. I wouldn't really mind learning another. But now that my whole bidding strategy based on world languages has been rebuffed, I'm faced with a question I realize I've been avoiding: Where do I want to go?
The truth is, I don't know. I honest to goodness don't know. I was really hoping to look at the bid list -- this huge bid list, with a good sampling of posts from all over the world -- and think, "Yes! That's it! All this time, I've been wishing I were in Bamako!" But that didn't happen. I look at it and feel very little sentiment at all. Maybe I just feel a little tired. I think I am overwhelmed by a choice I don't feel educated enough to make.
So, what to do? My final bid list is due by Monday morning. I guess at this point I'm just trying to decide if I really want to be in D.C. for another year for language training before I head out. My gut reaction is no, I want to get out and actually start doing something. But perhaps that's too hasty. Really, I'm just hoping I get sent to Japan for my first post so I'll have more time to think about all this.