It’s been a beautiful Spring here in our nation’s capital and things at DiploCollege (i.e., the Foreign Service Institute) have been great. Portuguese is slowly, but surely, coming along and I’ve been able to meet many of the wonderful people I will be working with at Consulate Recife. The most exciting development in the last couple of weeks has been that I now know where I’ll be headed to for my second post: Istanbul, Turkey! I will be there in August of 2015 after returning to FSI for four months of Turkish re-training. The only ‘downside’ is that it’s not a Public Diplomacy position, but there should be plenty of opportunities for me to volunteer with the PD section in Istanbul. It will be a great chance to solidify my Turkish and spend time in an amazing city.
This is probably the only time in my career when I’ll know what I will be doing–and where–for the next 5 years. Since I accepted the Critical Needs Language points (briefly known as RNL) I am required to serve in a Turkish position in one of my first two tours. Since there wasn’t one available during my A-100 and I was posted to Brazil, I was able to bid on my next post early. After years of being in limbo and not knowing where I was going to be or what I’d be doing, it’s a nice change of pace to have the next several years mapped out.
Last week, State announced a change that reminded me just how lucky and fortunate I’ve been. Starting with the June FSOT testers the CNL/RNL program has been pretty much eliminated and most languages, including Turkish, no longer qualify for the extra points that helped me secure a spot in A-100. It’s just another reminder to thank my lucky stars!
For now, the focus is on the Recife Readiness Initiative (RRI) for both Terrence and I. We’ve had a wonderful time these last few months and have enjoyed a lot of the great food this area has to offer. However, we will soon be living on a beautiful beach near the Equator, surrounded by Brazilians in teeny little bikinis. So it’s time to get in shape, learn Portuguese and get ready for Brazil! Terrence starts Portuguese classes this summer and will be joining me in the joy of verb conjugation and gender agreement, so it should be a good time in the Dowling household. Last week we were even able to get a taste of Brazilian life when we went to the Brazil vs. USA soccer match. Although the Stars and Stripes came up short in the match, it was a great game and reinforced the overarching theme that life is pretty damn good these days.