Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Drum Roll, Please: Where We're Going Next!

We're (finally) ready to announce where we're going after Kenya! Confession: we've known for a while but were waiting until we could finish telling family while we're home. We're going to Baghdad, Iraq!

Okay, if I want to be completely accurate, I should say: I'm definitely going to Baghdad. M is most likely going to Baghdad, but it's not confirmed yet. Baghdad is what's called an unaccompanied post, which means you can't bring family with you. The only way M can join me is if he gets a job at the Embassy, which we're very optimistic he'll be able to do (a lot of spouses aren't interested in going to Iraq or even can't go because of children or medical reasons).

Just to get it out of the way (and especially because so many have asked): yes, we wanted this. No, we are not being punished. You don't get sent to a PSP (Priority Staffing Post) in a conflict area like Iraq without volunteering for it. We had plenty of reasons for asking to serve there, and the benefits for places like Baghdad don't hurt, either. (At some point, I'll do a separate blog post about PSPs explaining some of these.)

So what will I do there? I'll be doing Consular work, which is currently a requirement for all Foreign Service Officers in either their first or second tour. Since I'm doing my first tour in Public Diplomacy, I knew my second tour had to be Consular. I don't really have a lot of information yet about what kind of Consular work I'll be doing, but chances are I'll be interviewing Iraqis all day, every day for visas to the United States.

One of the best parts about this job is that it's an Arabic one! Since I passed the language test last year, I get to go straight to Baghdad without language training. Those of you familiar with Arabic may be asking: wait, don't you at least get trained in the Iraqi dialect? And the answer is: nope! I think the Foreign Service is still trying to figure out how best to handle Arabic, and for now my score in Modern Standard Arabic is sufficient for me to go to Iraq. (Thankfully, my Distance Language Learning teacher is Iraqi and has already taught me a few crucial things, like "shako mako"!)

Our second tour will be a major shake-up from our first tour: we'll live in a tiny apartment on a massive compound where we will work, eat, live, sleep, exercise, and play. We're looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to serve!

4 comments:

  1. Thank goodness for Skype and zoom. It was great seeing you last night and hearing about Kenya. Loved meeting your friends too.

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