While our ceremonial swearing-in day is probably the most significant event of the entire seven week orientation program, it is still an afterthought to tomorrow. Tomorrow has occupied our thoughts and conversations every single day since Day One. On Day One we were sworn into the Foreign Service (so we could be entered onto the payroll), herded like lost lambs to our classroom and home for the next seven weeks, plunked into pre-assigned seats and handed our initial stacks of paperwork.
Then we were given our 'bidlist' and the most interesting thing in the world became that piece of white paper. Printed on it were approximately fifty Foreign Service positions located everywhere from Abuja to Sao Paulo. We spent the next week or so obsessing over the list and learning how to construct meaningful bids. Although our first two tours will be 'directed' or assigned tours, we were still given quite a bit of input on where we'd like to go or which job we'd prefer to do. Each of us was also given a private session with a Career Development Officer to make a case for our selections.
So, for the past six and one half weeks amid lessons on Public Diplomacy, Diplomatic History and Privileges and Immunity, we all found time to put together our own list of where each of us is certain to be going. Two of the women in the class are married to Foreign Service Officers and actually do know that they are going to Amman and Phnom Penh. The rest of us are using deductive reasoning and absolutely baseless wishing to try to convince each other that we can only be going to.....somewhere we want.
For the past six weeks, no matter where a conversation began, it always ended up in the same place...so, where do you think you'll go? Finding out where we're being sent isn't the only thing we'll learn at Flag Day tomorrow. Along with our first post, we'll be given our training schedule and can finally make some plans for after Orientation. Members of the 133rd A-100 will begin leaving for their posts as early as June and as late as next March. The job and language training required will determine the schedule.
So, tomorrow we'll assemble in the Field House and be called up one by one to be handed a flag from the country of our first post. I'm hoping for a post with a huge pay differential, a very light workload, and great living conditions, near a beautiful beach. Do we have an embassy in Maui?