Roller coaster

With two classmates Ben (China) and Stephen (Saudi Arabia
What a week this has been. Classes were pretty intense for me leading up to Flag Day (the day we received our assignments)…then Flag Day…then more classes and thinking about our new assignments. There’s a collective sigh of relief that this week is over!

On the morning of Flag Day, we had to do a “composure under fire” exercise in front of the entire class – I was one of six lucky participants. It’s pretty intimidating to be thrown questions about American foreign policy from the rest of the class who were posing as journalists. I survived, and it definitely took my mind off of the upcoming Flag Day ceremony later that afternoon.

So then…the Flag Day ceremony itself. There are dignitaries, our class instructors and our Career Development Officers down front with little flags from all the countries. They hold up a flag…the class shouts out the country name…then they announce who is going to that country for that position, you walk down front to collect your flag and do a photo op. It’s all random – for example, the Mexican flags were interspersed with the other countries, so I was called for Ciudad Juarez, and about 10 people later, John was called for it. It’s all quite suspenseful and exciting. One guy literally did backflips down the aisle as he went to collect his flag. Afterwards we all gathered at a watering hole known for its beer selection, so everyone could get a beer from their new country. Corona Light for me, please.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Ciudad Juarez came out of left field for us, but the more we hear about the post and the work there, the more excited we are. It’s not glamorous by any means, but there are lots of positives about it. The work will be very interesting, especially in light of all the immigration debate. Our correspondence so far with post management has been very friendly and positive. My favorite thing is that we won’t have to fly the cats down since we’ll be driving, which is a huge relief for me. We’re also excited about exploring more of the American Southwest as well as parts of Mexico. So, we are really getting excited. I scored pretty well on my Spanish exam (which I also had this week), so I should be able to leave in December with John, too!

The rest of the week was quite social with dinners and happy hours. Yesterday I went with about 40 other classmates on a Virginia wine country tour – we chartered a bus and went to three vineyards. The countryside was beautiful and it was a fun outing.

Life’s good! We are still pinching ourselves that we are here!

Sarah (Caracas), Scott (Monterrey), Michelle (Chennai) and John (¬°Ciudad Juarez!)


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