So I'm now half-way through A-100 and feeling guilty that I haven't the time, patience or perseverance to keep this blog updated. But the fact of the matter is, we're either not allowed to post information from A-100 (sensitive but unclassified), or I'm so confused about what is or is not permissible that I just play it safe by saying nothing. I just heard that one of my favorite bloggers was recently reprimanded by DOS. And since I have a tendency to suffer from "diarrhea of the mouth," it's better that I just keep my mouth shut!
With that said, WOW, it's been a heck of a run so far. It's hard to believe A-100 is already more than half over. It's been total information overload from lectures, classes, workshops, exercises, brown-bag lunches and informal discussions in the corridors and cafeterias of State Main (DOS headquarters in downtown DC) and FSI (the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, VA). Some of the speakers are very high up in the chain of command including Ambassadors and Undersecretaries of State. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we will get to meet our boss, Sec. Clinton, before graduation.
Last Tuesday, we handed in our Bid List. This is basically a list that ranks all the available posts around the world where we might end up for our first overseas assignment. We have been stressing about the bid list for two weeks including several hours of research in the library, looking at pros and cons of each country and city, dreaming of what life might be like in, say, London versus Lima. When I finally e-mailed my completed Bid List and Preferences, I felt like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders. (I promise that will be my only cliche in this post).
On Friday, our A-100 class survived THE WOODS, a two-day field trip to the back woods of West Virginia. It's basically a team building exercise to build camaraderie & esprit de corps. We were successful! But like fraternity initiation rites, what happens in the woods shall stay in the woods! All I can say is, it was a ton of fun and our class came home from the experience as better friends & colleagues.
Incidentally, I've heard some unfortunate stories about previous A-100 classes that never truly bonded, or had a lot of inter-personal conflicts. Unless I'm being seriously sheltered from the negativity, I think we have a really tight-knit group. Three weeks ago, we were all complete strangers and now we've already made lifelong friends. I can honestly say I'd be proud to serve alongside any of my classmates. In five days, we will learn where in the world we're going during FLAG DAY! Stay tuned.