During this past week, I was in the State Department’s Mexico area studies course put on by the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). It was similar to the two week Russia/Eurasia course I did in 2014 while preparing for my assignment to Uzbekistan. Most area studies classes at FSI are regionally-focused, but the complexity, depth, and breadth of the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship means Mexico has its own dedicated course, and it was both useful and fun. Narcotics, crime, migration, American Citizen Services emergencies, difficulties in determining citizenship, film, art, culture, indigenous issues, trade, mariachi bands, and tacos – what else do you want?
On Friday, August 22, my AR281 Russia/Eurasia Regional Intensive Area Studies came to a close. On Monday, August 25 and Tuesday, August 26 I sat for a two day safety and security overseas briefing, and for the remaining three days of last week, I conducted distance learning from home. It was a fantastic opportunity to catch my breath after the 8.5 weeks of continuously packed schedules of A-100 and Area Studies, and the first days I have been at home during the day since the end of June.