Variety = Spice of Life

A colleague and friend of mine who works as a management officer in the embassy recently posted on Facebook about how many different kinds of jobs she performs under the umbrella of “diplomat.” Some of the positions she mentioned were curator, travel agent, pet shipper, motivational speaker, lawyer, property manager, financial manager, party planner, and operations research analyst. As I read the post, I thought, “That’s so true!”

It got me to thinking about how much variety I have in my tasks, probably more than in any position I’ve previously encumbered. Tashkent has been an especially great opportunity for me as a new officer because our consular section is small, allowing more leadership opportunities than might be found at a larger post.

I think the stay-on-your-toes nature of the work could fill introverts and creatures of habit with dread. Yet somehow it’s precisely that highly varied, command-performance work that makes this introvert get out of bed each morning – even though truth be told, I too sometimes am filled with dread. And thus the comfort zone keeps expanding.

Here is a sampling of some things I’ve worked on just during the past two weeks alone – some within my direct purview as a consular officer (Vice Consul) and some falling under the broader “diplomat at the embassy” jurisdiction.

  • Serving as a voting member of the Housing Board, the body responsible for allocating housing to incoming embassy staff, and participating in a tour of newly identified houses to determine suitability.
  • Serving as accountable officer and Acting Consul while my boss, our section head, traveled.
  • Running a staff meeting: managing up, across and down.
  • Drafting guidance, both internal and public-facing, explaining various aspects of consular operations.
  • Representing my boss and our section at meetings with our ambassador and deputy chief of mission.
  • Liasing with Washington to consult on a variety of consular and legal matters.
  • Representing our ambassador and making remarks on her behalf at a cultural event at another embassy, which received national press coverage.
  • Attending two diplomatic receptions – one an evening ball, and one a working dinner.
  • Interviewing non-immigrants (in Russian) and adjudicating student, tourist and exchange visa cases.
  • Managing non-immigrant visa unit staffing, performance, policy, and workflow, and managing our wait time for appointments.
  • Revamping our post’s interview waiver policy.
  • Promoting our summer work and travel program via web chat with prospective student applicants, and preparing future remarks for a public presentation.
  • Interviewing and adjudicating Diversity Visa (“green card lottery”) and petition-based immigrant cases.
  • Reviewing fraud and criminal investigations.
  • Meeting with my boss to discuss my performance and identify goals for the next review cycle.
  • Liasing on joint efforts with our colleagues in other embassy sections, and building relationships.
  • Conducting an English club outreach event sponsored by the Public Affairs section, and encouraging Uzbek students and academics to practice their English by discussing advanced hypothetical situations.
  • Assisting Americans in need with everything from lost passports, to obtaining documents for their newborns, to answering queries on ex-pat voting.
  • Attending classes with my Russian tutor.
  • Approving and justifying proposals for training of our locally employed staff.
  • Facilitating a discussion and session of the Federal Women’s Group examining gender and maternal bias in the workplace.
  • Preparing protocol duties for the embassy’s 4th of July party.
  • Communicating with future arrivals to post as a social sponsor, coordinating housing set up and answering questions about consumables, diplomatic visas and settling in to post.

As you can see, the depth and breadth of things diplomats work on is enormous, and I’m just one small cog in one small part of the wheel. Small though my role may be, some of it involves dealing with very important matters in our nation’s interest. I have found the varied work stimulating, challenging and rewarding.

I have more than ten years of federal service now, and there is one element of all my position descriptions that has never changed: “Other duties as assigned.” It is this variety and element of never knowing what I may be called upon to manage that keeps life very spicy, indeed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Raised in the Foreign Service

My parents were Foreign Service partners who won hearts and minds for America during the Cold War, serving both Democratic and Republican administrations. Hear what it was like, and how those 20 years made me who I am.

Around the World in Thirty Years

A little ditty about our adventures in the Foreign Service

What is Kirby Doing?: Stories from Peace Corps eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)

Preparing to transition (from PCV to RPCV), trying to stay warm, and curating @BeardsOfPeaceCorps and @PeaceCorpsEswatini on Instagram and Facebook from Peace Corps eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)

memories over mohinga

a peace corps memoir

Bembes Abroad

Two People, Two Dogs...One New Country

Sending Postcards Home!

From travels around the world, with love..

Kelsey Schmitt

Travel & Lifestyle

Nomads By Nature: The Adventures Continue

We are a foreign service family currently posted in Windhoek, Namibia!!

Adventures Abroad

tales from a life abroad.

Texpatica

Ramblings about the life of a Texpat.

Emma & Nathan's Travels

Our worldwide travels beginning in the year 2017

Diplomatic Baggage

Perspectives of a Trailing Spouse, etc.

A Foot in Each World

Life, love, education, and adventure in foreign service.

Culture Shock

Staying in the Honeymoon Phase

I'm here for the cookies

A trailing husband's vain search for cookies in an unjust world

Caitlin Jean Russell

Travel Tips, Photographs and Experiences

The Good Things Coming

A blog about people, places, and ideas

The Blog of Travel

Motorbikes, dogs and a lot of traveling.

traveled.life/

A Traveled Life

The Trailing Spouse

My life as a trailing husband of a Foreign Service Officer

In-Flight Movie

Our Adventures in the Foreign Service

Audrey is (a)Broad

Things I do and see while living and traveling outside the USA

ficklomat

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” -Cloud Atlas

PM Adventures

pmadventures.com - Travel & Life Abroad

Cuddle Your Globe

Travel tips for beating the track and beyond from a travel expert who loves to hug the globe

mypassengerdiaries

travel and adventure

globetrottingteen

If travel is an addiction, I'm afflicted.

According to Athena

Our adventures in the Foreign Service with our dog, Athena

Diplomatic Status

Tales from My Foreign Service Life

Kids with Diplomatic Immunity

Chasing two kids around the globe

Unaccompanied Baggage

Unpacking the best U.S. Foreign Service blogs

The Wanderlust Diaries

A fine WordPress.com site

Eine Diplomatin aus Texas

Adventures of a Foreign Service Officer in training

The NicAdventure

Stories from a Peace Corps couple in the jungle

Everywhere is My Destination

A Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean & Travel Blog by Kate

Jenni Goes Global

our life abroad

Well, That Was Different

Travel Stories, Expatriate Life, Undiplomatic Commentary and Some Pretty Good Photos

a B, C, D Adventure

Life in the Foreign Service

Om Nom Culture

by Blake Bergen Photography

Adventures

in the Foreign Service

%d bloggers like this: