Sunday, August 23, 2009


I found out this past week that I'll be working in the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) - yay! And I just found out on Friday that my first assignment will be to Nairobi, Kenya, to work at the regional mission for East Africa. Also yay! So I am a very happy girl.

I think I'll be moving to Kenya sometime early next year (February/March/April) depending on if they want me to learn Swahili or just improve my French for future postings. Our five weeks of orientation training are finally over, so starting Monday and for the next several months, I'll be doing technical training (like how to do conflict assessments, design programs, and do monitoring and evaluation) and rotations in different offices, which is basically like short internships. Hopefully it will all be very interesting and I'll learn a lot.

What hasn't happened yet is meeting my supervisor. We've got a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, so fingers crossed that it goes well and we get along.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I'm back!

...And, I'm back! Finally!

I think I mentioned before that I had gotten a job with USAID (the U.S. Agency for International Development - a cross between being a diplomat and a Peace Corps Volunteer). Well, I'm now three weeks into the job, and it's going well so far (more on that below). And, best of all - okay, not best of all, because having a job I think I'm going to love and having my first paycheck for it coming next week are in the best of all category - but anyway, in the good news section, is that I have been told officially that I may continue to write a public blog, although of course I have to be careful about what I say so I don't get myself in trouble and get fired. (Did you notice my disclaimer on the sidebar that says this is a personal website and doesn't represent the views of the U.S. government?) So I will not be telling you, for example, which governments are corrupt dictatorships. You probably already have a good idea, but if not, you can look up reports from Human Rights Watch and Transparency International. Hopefully I will still find lots of interesting things to write about, although with my impending elite diplomat lifestyle they will probably not have quite the same flavor as my village stories from Peace Corps.

So, on to what I've been up to in the last few weeks. Over the last few decades USAID has been shrinking, and now the government has decided to reverse this trend and hire lots of people. And I'm one of them. Right now I'm in a five-week orientation class for new foreign service employees. We have a great mix in the class of junior- and mid-level hires, and lots of different job titles - Health Officers, Education Officers, Agriculture Officers, Economists, Engineers... and Crisis, Stabilization, and Governance Officers, of which I am one. I think uniquely among all these job titles, my position is nebulous as I (and others with the same title) will be further specialized within this category into Democracy and Governance, Humanitarian Assistance, or Conflict Mitigation fields. I don't know yet what specialization I'm going to be assigned (I think I'll find out on Monday), but I'm really hoping for humanitarian assistance or conflict mitigation. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, the last few weeks has been pretty standard orientation stuff - lots of human resources forms and information (they keep talking about planning for retirement, which is a little freaky for those of us in the under-30 category), Powerpoint briefings on what the different USAID offices do, team-building exercises, etc. Two more weeks of this, and then on August 21st we'll have a graduation ceremony and find out what countries we're being assigned to first. As for me, I don't really care what country I go to, as long as there are interesting projects for me to work on. Although I did tell them I hate being cold, and so I'd prefer to go somewhere with a warm climate.

Okay, enough for now. Hopefully more regular posting to come.