Meanwhile, in Uzbekistan…

November has been a surreal and packed month, and as it winds down, I’m reflecting on some of its twists and turns.

At the beginning of the month, our embassy had a visit from Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon. Ambassador Shannon was extremely busy during his limited time in Tashkent, but a group of first and second tour (FAST) officers enjoyed a delicious traditional Uzbek lunch and conversation with him at Tashkent’s new Hyatt Regency hotel.

I was the site officer, and had the duty of organizing the menu and logistics. It was that duty that found me the night before tucking name tents into metal card holders, and fretting about everything from parking to food temperature.

Staking out the Hyatt prior to the event and doing my advance walk-throughs brought back fond reminders of my years as a logistics officer and a special assistant; me pacing or lurking in stairways, doorways, and hallways holding multiple phones and a leather pendaflex stopped surprising anyone years ago.

The Under Secretary is currently the top career diplomat in the State Department. Career Foreign Service Officers at high levels in the Department play a special role during transitions between presidential administrations. They provide institutional know-how, recommendations on priorities, and continuity of operations as the political appointees from the outgoing administration are replaced by the incoming administration’s picks.  Since Ambassador Shannon joined the Foreign Service in the 1980s, he has seen his share of presidential transitions.

Our lunch occurred the weekend before the U.S. election, so we didn’t yet know its outcome. However, it was still a good opportunity for us to hear his perspective on how a transition of presidential administration affects work at posts, and to capitalize on the chance to hear career advice from someone so accomplished.  One of the things he said that resonated with me was a reminder that when you’re bidding, always pursue work that is interesting to you, rather than a pre-planned and rigid career trajectory. Great advice that I will keep in mind when I go into mid-level bidding in 2018.

A few days later, the U.S. election happened. Tashkent is ten hours ahead of Washington, DC at this time of year, and thirteen hours ahead of the west coast, so I was already on the non-immigrant visa line the next morning as the popular vote and electoral college returns were coming in. Like everyone else, I stared at the live cable news coverage, read the flood of social media posts, and reflected on the deep divisions in our society with sadness and disbelief. My own family, friends, and colleagues have been (and remain) very split on the candidates, and the issues.

As a U.S. diplomat, I’ve gone to some lengths to avoid making statements of a political nature, even privately, that could be conflated with (or in conflict to) U.S. policy, current or future. I know that many of my colleagues feel differently, as evidenced by the unrestrained statements made on public blogs and across social media. I don’t think the Hatch Act expressly prohibits this. However, I have to do what’s comfortable for me. That generally means caution: quietly reflecting, considering my obligations under the Hatch Act and familiarizing myself with the proper dissent procedures within the State Department, planning for my next tour in which I will be a political reporting officer (which includes giving policy démarches), waiting for the next administration to pick its cabinet including Secretary of State, and just generally occupying myself with the day to day tasks of applying immigration law to my work. Also: I am cognizant of the fact that any analysis or commentary I could provide on the subject would be vastly inelegant and inferior to what has already been said and what will be said.

I want to emphasize one point, though. When I joined the Foreign Service, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, and to well and faithfully discharge the duties of my office. I swore that same oath as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and as a federal employee at two different agencies before I came to the State Department. It brought me to the edge of tears each time I said the words.

I have been upholding that oath, which I have taken five times, and have already served more than 11 years under both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations. I will continue to serve and offer my best work no matter who is president, because as a career diplomat (rather than a political appointee), my personal and professional commitment to public service supersedes politics. I also think that now more than ever, we need to find better ways to show the world what being in a participatory democracy truly means. Elevating the level of discourse and extending understanding to people who think differently than you is a good start. It’s a key tenet of diplomacy, too.

Meanwhile during November, my husband and I also celebrated dinners at home and out with our colleagues and friends…

…saw the Uzbekistan National Symphony Orchestra perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 at Turkiston Palace…

…and attended the 241st annual United States Marine Corps birthday ball!

So many props to my hair stylist, Ruslan!

This month our embassy also welcomed a visit from Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs (PDAS) William E. Todd.

Additionally, I took not one, not two, but THREE trips: one to Khiva, in the western part of Uzbekistan; another impromptu trip to Bangkok, Thailand; and a third across the land border to Kazakhstan, and I’ll talk about those adventures in my upcoming posts. No wonder this month went so fast!

  2 comments for “Meanwhile, in Uzbekistan…

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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

A Diplomat's Wife

just another story

bama in the balkans

Experiences of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

Adventures in Macedonia

A Peace Corps Story

Twelve Knots

My Journey to the Foreign Service

Sarah Jones Abroad

I am serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, come read about my advetures

Notes From Post

A Diplomat's Life Abroad

La Vie Overseas

Expat Life as a Foreign Service Wife

Raised in the Foreign Service

40 years later, a TCK looks at the world through the lens of Embassy family life

Around the World in Thirty Years

A little ditty about our adventures in the Foreign Service

What is Kirby Doing?: Stories from a post-Peace Corps (Close of Service) COS Trip

Galavanting around Southeast Asia, job searching, and curating @BeardsOfPeaceCorps on Instagram and Facebook

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.


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.

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


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

PM Adventures - Travel & Life Abroad

Cuddle Your Globe

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


travel and adventure


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 site

Eine Diplomatin aus Texas

Adventures of a Foreign Service Officer in training

%d bloggers like this: