Be Awesome

Look, our forefathers died for the "pursuit of happiness," okay? Not for the "sit around and wait of happiness." Now if you want, we can go to the same bar, drink the same beer, talk to the same people every day or you can lick the Liberty Bell. You can grab life by the crack and lick the crap out of it.
--Barney (HIMYM)

Monday, April 18, 2011

The End of Orientation and Orientation Graduation

It's been a busy past two weeks!  Week three included more bureau presentations but also had some great Q&A sessions with Congressional staffers.  It's interesting to hear the perspectives of USAID from those that allocate the budgets.

On that topic, the big government shutdown and potential furlough was avoided.  If the government budget extension was not passed, I would have fallen into the Non-Excluded category meaning basically unpaid time-off.  Historically, Congress has passed a measure to provide backpay to those furloughed, but in this government environment, that would not have been a guaranteed.  So I'm happy things were worked out.  Plus, I really enjoy coming into work everyday :P.

Our class also took a trip to have lunch with the American Foreign Service Association.  It was interesting to hear how the union for the Foreign Service works and what they do.  Since I've never been part of a union, it was nice to learn how they work.  Union dues were fairly nominal and the work they do seems pretty important to me so I elected to join.

The closure to the five-week orientation program also came about.  During the last two weeks, I was able to meet my supervisor and the team which I'll be working with during my period here in Washington before assignments are determined.  The team seems great and I'm anxious to learn the USAID contracting function.  I also feel my prior contracting experience is going to be quite useful in this transition as many of the terms and overview of the types of acquisitions and awards they do are already familiar.

This last Friday was Orientation Graduation.  This past week, I've had my fiancee in town and some family fly in this weekend for the graduation so I've been busy with lots of entertaining and sightseeing but it's been a good time.  Graduation morning began with a very brief welcome by Administrator Shah who quickly had to leave to other meetings.  However, I really appreciated him taking the time to come speak to us.  Our keynote speaker was the most senior Foreign Service Officer of the agency. Instead of giving flags to everyone to indicate our country assignments, they presented certificates and planned to have small "flag days" as the assignments can be determined in the future.  I think the Graduation would have been nice if they had the ability to give us our assignments but they notified us from day one that wouldn't be the case.  All in all though, it was a very nice conclusion to the Orientation and a good transition to training and work.

Tomorrow begins the next phase of the Foreign Service adventure and I'm looking forward to it!

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