Sunday, June 25, 2017

Realities of Foreign Service Life (Book Review #20 of 2017)

Realities of Foreign Service Life: an AAFSW book

This book was a great idea. It is a compilation of essays by FSOs, spouses, and children regarding specific aspects of Foreign Service life. Packing and travel, handling crises and evacuations, finding employment for trailing spouses, education challenges, dealing with depression, handling marriage and divorce, and more are covered in this quick read.

The book is rather dated (2002), the Internet was still relatively new at publishing. (There is a newer Volume 2 I will have to check out.) Some of the resources it provides are still available and applicable, but some chapters on things like communication with America are obsolete. The Foreign Service itself has changed very recently, it's harder with the current hiring freeze for trailing spouses to find Embassy than it has been in a long time. The career hiring Registers are no longer cleared and would-be careerists are now encouraged into non-career Consular service. That culture shift definitely alters decision-making and career trajectories.

A few chapters I found very relevant and helpful:
The chapters on the Yemen evacuating and Kenyan Embassy bombings.
Preparing and saving for the expensive/tricky tour(s) in DC.
Spouse struggling with depression.
The chapter dealing with the pack-out.
Chapters dealing with education.

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