It’s goodbye season in the Foreign Service, and this week has been full of them. Our CLO arranged a preemptive Adieu party for everyone a while back, and there was the monthly “Hail and Farewell” event, but only in the last few days have people really been leaving on their jetplanes (2 leave today, in fact). Thus, over the weekend, we attended 2 goodbye dance parties, had last-chance trips to favorite restaurants and doled out many a hug and a “keep in touch.”
Most of the junior officers departing Dhaka move on to pretty wonderful posts. Due to our ‘differential’ (a measure of how different life is compared to life in the states, either in violence or lack of creature comforts ), we get a little preference in the bidding and assignments process. High differentials mean higher preference in assignments, and zero differentials bid and are assigned last. In a way, this preference differential makes the first two tours (which are directed by the people in DC) somewhat more equitable across the junior officer’s ranks. It gives everyone a chance to experience different kinds of posts before tenure, at least that’s how I see it.
What that all amounts to is an exceedingly large number of generous offers to host us poor left-behind ones when we make it out of Dhaka on our vacations. Many of the goodbyes are accompanied with promises that we’ll “always be welcome in Paris” (or Tokyo, Sydney, or whatever world city they’re off to). Many of these swanker posts come with only itty-bitty housing, though, so I wonder if we could ever take them up on the offer without turning them out of their pied-a-terre.
It does make me excited about our own bid list, which is due out at the end of the summer transfer season. Mr. Adventure is excited to see what will be available to him for his first “in-cone” job (i.e. his first job in the career track he was hired for, as he is doing a mandatory rotation in a different career track for this tour), as last year’s list included some really exciting work with a variety of international organizations, in nations with dynamic situations, or engaging fascinating specializations within his field.
I’m hopeful we’ll find a place with something more relevant for me to do. I’d love to work with a study-abroad program, or to help hopeful college students prepare themselves for life in the US. I’d enjoy being a site-coordinator for a US travel-adventure camp or immersion program, or as an actual instructor in the field I was trained in (we’d need to find a Spanish or English-speaking country for that, though, as I don’t think I could learn enough of a foreign language to pull off intellectual discussions on ethics, logic or philosophy in less than a year, even with my PhD). Those kinds of jobs are available most every but here in Bangladesh, where the news that an incoming American college-student intern is surprising enough to garner some international media coverage. So, I’m hopeful. Let’s hope this year’s list is as cool as last year’s.