Saturday, May 09, 2015

Own Statement

This has been a whirlwind of a year.  Between rushing to beat the other students to the school kitchen on 'pizza days', navigating Omani traffic circles, and finding time to undertake Post's weekly radio checks in the midst of a busy beach-side study schedule, I've maintained a focus on Department goals and advancing U.S. interests.

This rating season, I'm particularly proud of my significant contributions to pronunciation of the letter ع.  This has allowed increased communication on globalization, recycling, and opposition movements within 1920s Arab theater schools.  Just the other day, an Omani contact asked me if I had strong opinions on shisha flavors.  "Yes," I told him with confidence.  "I prefer 'grape with mint'."  Such important intercultural exchange would not have been possible were it not for my direct and continued efforts with this letter.

This rating period has also provided opportunities to hone my problem solving skills.  Upon arriving at school one day to find the classrooms unsuitably chilly, I quickly set about analyzing the situation.  After conferring with colleagues, we soon identified the problem:  improper A/C settings.  At my suggestion, we implemented a group system of monitoring and surreptitiously adjusting the A/C during class breaks.  The result?  A better learning environment, increased camaraderie, and potentially tens of thousands in savings to the Omani government through a reduced burden on their energy subsidy program.  We expect these newly freed resources to be channeled into shared U.S.-Omani interests of counterterrorism, protection of international waterways, and frankincense production.

Lastly, I've taken full advantage of provided opportunities to increase my substantive knowledge.  Not only do I now know three different Arabic words for 'goat', I can also identify local goats by origin and ascertain whether they are of the meaty or merely decorative variety.  My studied knowledge of the local coffee shop menu proved invaluable when told the cafe had run out of caramel -- I was able to instantaneously switch my order to a chai latte, thus salvaging an intense study session that might not have taken place without sugar and caffeine.  And during Secretary Kerry's visit to Muscat, I was able to identify from the press pictures exactly which area of Souq Mutrah he had traversed, using this as a starting point to further discussion on the P5+1 negotiations with Iran and their impact on Oman's tourism sector.  Omani counterparts reported this conversation was "interesting" and provided "new and unexpected information."

All and all, it's been a full year, and I've been pleased by the chance to serve my country in such a direct and fulfilling way.  I plan to seek out similar challenges in all my future postings, and thus concur with my rater's recommendation that I be promoted at the earliest available opportunity.