Thursday, March 20, 2008

That Time of Tour Again

We've been looking at a potential bid list. Next week is our 18 month anniversary in Chennai and though we have another 18 months here, it's comforting to say we're on the downswing.

I think back to our time in Togo and while we still reminisce about our house, our pool, our dog, it's plain how unhappy we were there, at least 50% of the family was not happy. The younger three had it pretty good. They loved Coco Beach, they had good teachers at school and along with the aforementioned house/pool/dog, they wanted for nothing. Life was good for them in Togo and even Jonathon still asks when we can go back. Sorry kiddo.
Here we are in Chennai, a full 6 months longer than we were in Lome', and the time has flown. But we're ready to think of what's next, and we're finding it exceedingly difficult. The first two tours for a Foreign Service Officer are directed. We make a wishlist, someone else tells us where we're going. They have to be overseas, one has to be Consular, one has be language designated.... all those restrictions help us create a list based on the daily living things like schools, climate, ease of travel, etc. Now, though we begin with a much smaller list for midlevel positions of about 100 worldwide (versus the 300+ on our second list), the door is wide open. We can stay out, we can go to Washington. We can go to a language post, or not. East side of the planet or West? Ian can stretch, try to get a job in a higher rank than he is now. And all the daily living stuff too. The job has to be right, but so does everything else.
To make it even more difficult, we have to know what our first choice is, then he has to ask for it by talking to the people currently at that Post. And when they ask "Where is this on your list?" he has to answer honestly. Because you can't poke around looking for info on a single Post, right? What if you don't get it, then your name isn't out there interested in a backup. But no Post wants to be just a backup when you're asking around. It's all a little messy and pushes the whole "diplomat" part of this job within your own organization right into the forefront.
Here we are. We have a list, and it's so preliminary it's really not funny or even worth considering because the Iraq cycle hasn't been done yet and the entire list will change come June, and again in August.
But until then, it's fun to dream in no particular order.
Hong Kong

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