I have been oriented.
I am now the proud owner of my own overly large, mostly unread, packet of dead tree material in the form of booklets, pamphlets, handouts, PowerPoints and other information dense literature. Oh, and a bid list.
The information overload today was wonderful and overwhelming. We learned about the FS “Transition Center,” the “Overseas Briefing Center,” the Office of Medical Services (MED), how the assignment process works from the CDO (Career Development Officer) perspective, education overseas, and the FLO (Family Liaison Office). The speakers were great and it was incredibly informative, but the best part was getting to meet and learn about the accomplished, interesting group of “spouses” who are with us in this crazy adventure.
Of course, given that the list of places where each of us will end up was provided to us last night that was clearly the primary topic of conversation. There are 105 “posts” on the list, which includes 51 cities in 44 countries. There are huge posts with over 500 US personnel (this includes folks from all agencies, not just the State Department) and one post with 8 US personnel. There are places with danger pay, and places without. It’s probably a pretty typical list for an A-100 class with lots of consular (ie: visa line) jobs and lots of jobs in visa heavy countries.
What was amazing about the discussion with the other EFMs (Eligible Family Members) was that we all had such different ideas and priorities. B and I rank some posts low because we don’t want to have to learn certain languages, or because of certain environmental factors, but other people can’t wait to learn a really hard language and want the excitement of exotic and difficult locales. I’m sure some of them thought our “preferences” were bizarre too.
Regardless, in 29 days we will all know which of these posts is ours (barring any change to the list, which we were told several times could happen at any time, and/or several times before we submit our final list).
Now our job – in between our actual jobs and caring for our 3 1/2 year old – is to research these posts and rank each of them “high,” “medium” or “low.” We get to put 25% low, which translates to about 26 posts. We don’t get to group the posts by country, so we can’t rank all posts in one country “low” if that number exceeds 26 (which it does for several countries), we have to rank each post – meaning each job in each city.
B and I spent last night identifying our “low” posts. We were, thank heavens, pretty much on the same page, so we have now identified the 26 places that are our least attractive options and the ones we hope we don’t get. However, as we were also reminded repeatedly today, the “needs of the service” come first, so on Flag Day, notwithstanding our highs, our lows and our mediums, the flag that gets handed to B could be anywhere on the list.
Now it’s on to identifying our preferences (ie: do we want to learn a language, do we care about how close we are to the U.S., does B want to fulfill his “consular” cone requirement now, or later…), and deciding on our “highs” and “mediums.” Let’s hope that goes as smoothly as the lows…
By the way, from a blog admin perspective I have, by popular demand (ie: B told me to do it), made the “A” an “a” so people can stop asking B who “A” is…and I’ve added some pictures of our world travels before this adventure into the header. Variety is the spice of life, after all.