November has been a surreal and packed month, and as it winds down, I’m reflecting on some of its twists and turns.
I spent the second week in September with my mom on a highly and long-anticipated trip to Moscow. As I mentioned in my previous post about our travel to Budapest, Americans must obtain visas for travel to the Russian Federation that exceeds 24 hour transit. This didn’t dissuade us; several of my A-100 diplomatic colleagues are serving at U.S. Embassy Moscow, and one of my dear friends and former Russian classmates there offered to sponsor us for three-year “guest of diplomat” visas. So with my coordination, my mom quickly obtained hers from the Russian Consulate in San Francisco. However, my issuance from the Russian Embassy in Tashkent took a bit longer.
It’s been two weeks since we returned from our trip to Samarkand. I am currently working on a half-baked theory that the life of a diplomat is especially suited to extroverts, although according to what I’ve heard and seen, many of us in the State Department (myself included) are in fact introverts.
There are a lot of misconceptions about what an introvert actually is – some people categorize introverts as shy, socially awkward, or bookworms. That may be true in some cases. However, the introversion-extroversion scale is more about where one receives their energy.
I was fortunate when I arrived here in Tashkent last month that the consular officers and local staff already working in the section facilitated a great orientation training and familiarization period for me. This helped me quickly learn what consular work looks like relevant to conditions in Uzbekistan; it was a specific and fine-tuned addendum to my ConGen training that took place in this spring.
And what is consular work about, exactly, for the uninitiated? In my opinion, it is very important work – protecting the borders of our great nation, while facilitating legitimate travel, study and even immigration to the United States, as well as serving the needs of our fellow American citizens traveling through or living in Uzbekistan.