First assignment: Berlin!
I could hardly contain myself as the announcer, speaking to a room filled with newly minted diplomats and 300 of their closest friends and family, began: “Berlin, Germany….” I buried my face in my hands as I muttered “there is no way I’m getting this” before jumping out my chair when my name was called, stumbling past my classmates and generally acting like an idiot as I progressed towards the podium where I received a little German flag.
Sorry, Ambassador K, and other distinguished guests, for walking straight past you in a daze of happiness and disbelief, and thank you, Mr. Career Development Officer who was not there to shake my hand but somehow managed to assign me to the post that was my undisputed top choice. I couldn’t be more happy and grateful.
I wish I had a photo of me gracefully striding towards the podium, or shaking my class mentor’s hand with purpose and professionalism. Instead, I’m dreading the existence of any visual evidence of me becoming unhinged from the minute my name was called until well after I sat down again. My sister—against the clear instructions I’d given her—took a photo of me while I stumbled back to my seat, but when she showed it to me later said: “oh, it looked much better in reality.”
But even though I have no (decent) pictures from my “Flag Day”—the day FSOs get their first diplomatic assignments—it definitely happened, and now I’m looking at a new training schedule that will keep me in DC until the next summer. I’ll spend all of August in short-term courses about security overseas, diplomatic skills and competencies, and regional studies.
Next, I’m looking at nine months of German language training. I may have forgotten to mention to my CDO that I know a little bit of German already, but I promise it wasn’t intentional. For Dutch speakers with a Dutch education it’s basically a given, and not something to brag or even thinkabout. Anyway, I doubt that my German language skills are much better than my Russian or French language skills, so it’s good that they’ll let me start learning from the beginning.