As Andy mentioned in his last post, we’re scheduled to stick around Arlington until March of 2011. There are a few others in my A-100 class who will be in training that long, but they’re all studying super hard languages like Arabic or Mandarin.
I’m just learning French.
French seems super hard to me, but I’m still only being given six months to learn it, like everyone else. So why are we spending 10 more months here?
- May and June: I’ll attend a month-long public diplomacy course focused on press relations, which will be a large part of my job. A few other short courses on topics like security overseas and effective management are also sprinkled in, as are some “gap days,” which I’m responsible for filling with activities of my choosing. Research about Benin, meetings with members of the Africa Bureau and administrative tasks like getting my diplomatic passport and buying a car are all possibilities.
- July to December: French. Also, once a week I’ll take a three-hour area studies course.
- January and February: After I’ve passed my French exam (fingers crossed!) I’ll move on to consular training. Since there’s only one consular officer in Cotonou, I may be called upon to do some back-up consular work.
- March: In addition to interacting with the press, my job as the Public Diplomacy Officer will involve managing cultural and educational programs, so I’ll need training for this too. No FSO currently in Cotonou has had this training, so it’s especially important that I get it.
This schedule is subject to change, and honestly, we’re kind of hoping it does. We’d love to get to post earlier than March. But then again, unless my job description changes, all of this training really is necessary. So, we’ll see…