Our first week of career-specific training is complete. We had 18 office managers in our orientation class of 41 and are now all off together in our training group…minus the two that were pulled for language training. Most of us don’t have language-designated posts, but a few people got them, so they’re working on those first.

I think the highlight of the week was actually getting out of class to go listen to a guest speaker. We got to sit in on a lecture by Ambassador Prudence Bushnell who was the ambassador at the embassy in Nairobi when it was bombed in 1998. Her talk was on leadership and crisis management, and she is definitely an authority on the subject. I was very impressed.

On the extreme opposite end of things, we did a bit of studying on diplomatic protocol, which was very entertaining. You’d think there’d be quite a disparity between what people perceive to be Foreign Service life with glamorous embassies and cocktail parties and what the reality of it is…a sometimes isolated community living in some of the most difficult countries in the world. I guess it embraces both from time to time, but it’s usually somewhere in the middle.

My main disappointment at the moment is the fact that we won’t have a Marine Ball in Belize…kind of like Midwinter dinner in Antarctica. Most embassies are staffed by Marine security guards and join them in their annual celebrations. I’d read about several and seen pictures, so it was one of the many things I was looking forward to participating in when we joined the FS. But Belmopan is one of the smallest posts in the world, and we don’t actually have any Marines. So I guess we’ll have to keep waiting, which isn’t all bad…gives me a chance to lose a bit more weight before trying to get into a nice dress.

Right now we are enjoying a three-day weekend in DC. I just got back from a lovely little get-together at my friend D’s from Antarctica. We have yet to live in a town that didn’t have Ice people in it…ha ha. She works for USAID and is currently subletting a cute little townhouse in the Capitol Hill area. Tomorrow we’re planning on heading to Lorton to celebrate the Fourth with N’s parents and then it’s back to class!