Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The register...116.

So the "register" is the list of people who have successfully passed all the tests and essays and medical invasions and security scrutiny and are deemed "OK" to be hired by the Dept. of State as a Foreign Service Officer. They aren't "in" yet. They are waiting to be invited. They are people who have invested a good deal of time into this process. And lots of energy. And thought. We are in that boat.
We = they.

My husband is on the Public Diplomacy register. That register now has 116 people on it. The top 18 people get invited off the register every couple of months. Which makes you think, "Okay, just wait a few months and then his score will be called." Except that people keep getting added to the register. All the time. With good scores and skills in Arabic. So they get bumped to the top. His score is more than half-way down. Which means either a long wait or forget it. (A person stays on the register for 18 months and then...bye, bye, start over.) Since taking the OA he has been studying German, hoping to raise his rank on the register. But it's grueling. He works every day, then goes to German three times a week after work. He wakes up at 5am to do his homework. Plus there's the expense. And he's a cub scout leader. And there's soccer starting up. And the kids miss him. And I miss him. And we don't know if he'll get to a level 3 in German. And we are all sick of talking about German, and dreaming about German. We wish we could just enjoy each other and our lives. He is also signing up to retake the entire process and hope for a higher OA score the second time. The thought of more German, more studying, more study groups, more essays and waiting and more not knowing...
...I don't know.

What would you do?


Bfiles said...

oh, I hear you. Does he have a time frame for taking the German test? I'm not sure of his lessons but I think he's meeting w/ a conversation partner- could he do that over the phone (more realistic for the test, anyway) after the kids are in bed or after dinner, so at least he gets some play time?
After I passed the OA, the thought of retaking it and doing all that prep work was unbearable. I'm still putting off launching a big push for the spanish test. So I totally understand.
But the alternative...saying goodbye to the dream? Somehow I think that's not something you want to do just yet...
One more thought- any chance of taking a family trip to Germany or sending him to an intensive 2 week class or something right before the test? I know, a long shot, but you never know.

hope the comments from the community are helpful to you as they have been to me. take care.

Daniela said...

Just curious, why doesn't your husband take the German test now? From your description I gather that he has been working very hard at brushing it up. He lived in Germany for a while. I am willing to bet that his German is probably good enough to give him the bump points he needs. And the sooner he does it, the sooner you will get called.

My hubby took the test as soon as he could schedule it. His language was Bulgarian. Bulgarian is a hard language. My husband learned it while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria in 1995-1997. He has forgotten a lot of it because he doesn't use it on a daily basis and he didn't do anything to prepare for the test but he did well and got his bump points. We got "the call" (email, really) very shortly thereafter. Now he is in A-100 (also PD track) and we are impatiently waiting to find out our first post.

Not sure if this helps - just my two cents.

Daniela said...

By the way, I have posted a link of your blog on mine.

Hope you don't mind. Hopefully, you will get the invite soon and we can hang out in the DC area waiting to go to our first posts. My daughter is in kindergarten and would love to meet your daughter.

jamieschip said...

I feel ya. The POL register is at 156 (as of yesterday.) ARGH!!! I was doing the math and realized that after May calls went out, 20 people were then added ahead of my husband, 6 people added below him. So that means 26 people were added in just 4 weeks. That's insane, and very disheartening. My husband is 56 out of 156. When you tell people that they think he will make it for sure, but they don't realize the amount of people getting added daily, and it seems with much higher scores than we've seen the past 6+ months. UGH. Just know we are in the same boat. Wish I could be more encouraging, but it seems I've been lacking in that department lately... know you can relate.

PS I think I'm going to steal your blog post if that's okay.

Anonymous said...

While I appreciate your candor, I think you need a reality check. Being a member of the FS is a privilege, not a right, even if your husband is improving his German at 5:00 am. Your blog entry is full of self-pity and self-indulgence about how long your husband has to wait for a government job that you somehow suggest should be his (with you benefiting) automomatically because you both are "sacrificing" by being willing to leave your predictable, superficially comfortable homeland community. Such an attitude is not exactly in the spirit of the Foreign Service. And I mean Service.

I quite wonder, after reading your entry, how you properly would behave in far-off "hardship" overseas places representing our country, especially with your spouse being in the PD cone. I suspect you, with other Embassy staff unhappy to be abroad rather than at the nearby suburban Mall, would be complaining all the time, longing, with other homesick, parochial Americans in our fortress embassies for your comfortable community back in the US of A, all the while getting their federal employee checks and building up for retirement.

Are you sure you really want to be part of the Foreign Service?

FS, here we come! said...

Hey, Anonymous,

I appreciate your candor, too. I'm not sure how you stumbled across my little blog, but I think you may have mistaken it for some kind of political statement. This blog is merely a chronicle of what I'm going through as my family makes a major life transition. You're right that this blog and many like it are full of self-pity. I think I and others post so that we can feel a sense of community with the only people who can understand what we're going through.

And just what are we going through? It's not torture. It's just angst. (Hey, another German word!) I know that there are many people in the world who have much more to complain about in life than I do. In fact, I've posted frequently about how fortunate I am to have lived the life I have here in the United States.

But you're wrong to assume that I'm unwilling to sacrifice for my country. Heck, I won't even be working for the Foreign Service and I know my family and I will sacrifice. That's why the angst. In many ways, I have no idea what I'm getting my family into, but I trust that the experience of getting outside of this comfortable life and learning new languages and cultures will be good for our family. Just because we're willing to serve doesn't mean we don't have fears. Just because my husband has been deemed qualified doesn't mean I expect it to be easy. But I think it's OK, among friends who understand, to complain about life's difficulties.

Just to clarify. My husband is the public diplomacy guy. He always says the right thing to calm tensions and help people see each others' point of view. Me, I'm the artist. I'm the one who has to bite my lip sometimes. So that's why I'm not telling you off or anything. Next time, though, you might post a bit more about yourself so we know where you're coming from. Or what's on your agenda. Or when your dreams of becoming a PD officer were dashed.

Connie said...

I had to laugh at this bit of anon's gripe session "Being a member of the FS is a privilege, not a right"... I mean... come on! The more I think of it, the more I giggle. Even the cats are looking at me like I've lost it! Anon makes it sound like daddy is offering his spoiled teen a shiny red sports car for a graduation present "Ok son, remember, this is a privilege, not a right" :D

It's a JOB! Hello? Sure, it's a cool job, it's a neat life, not for everyone, but I like it, and yes, it is public service which is always a beautiful thing and you should feel 'privileged' any time you get a chance to help others... but FS is a job. Job. Yea.. I said it.

I sure hope your husband gets this JOB. He sounds dedicated and hard-working. It's the FS that should feel it a privilege that they can pick and choose to hire someone who is so determined, for a JOB, alongside all the other FS employees who also worked very hard and EARNED their jobs.

LeesOnTheGo said...

Wow. That's a lot of stuff that our friend anon. threw at you (and by proxy, most of us self indulgent, self-pitying types who have the PRIVILEGE of packing up our predictable, superficial little suburban lives...every 2-4 years).

You answered with equal candor but double graciousness. Well done. This is your blog, your experiences, your view of reality. You certainly do not need to justify anything you write.