Saturday, February 5, 2011

Risk Reward

Foreign Service life has a lot of to offer. Most people would say that we are spoiled. We travel all over the world, often for free. Many FSO's have household help and nannies. We attend parties with diplomats, ambassadors, and sometimes, heads of states. Our children speak several languages and are raised by nannies and educated in the best schools, often for free. Yup, most people think we are spoiled and over compensated for the work we do.

But most people don't live in dangerous or tenuous circumstances. It may sound funny that Twitter can incite riots, but to an FSO and family, the event is not funny. All non-essential personnel and families have been evacuated from Embassy Cairo. They packed quickly, said good-bye to loved ones, and were put on a plane to another country and later on to the US.

Four years ago, I would have thought this a grand adventure, but now with kids I am full of worry. I can't help but try to think of what it would be like to pack a bag, grab the kids and say good-bye to Spencer. All the while wondering how long it would be until I see him again, would he be safe, and what about all of our possessions?  I don't know if the cats would have travel orders. What would happen to them?

The rewards are great, greater than the risks. But I do not believe FSO's are freeloaders riding on the dime of other American's. Embassies are bombed, foreign governments suddenly change, as do country borders and even natural borders. Every two years we uproot our families, leaving friends and routines behind to start all over again in a new country with a new language and customs. Families are separated usually once during a career for a year when the FSO is sent to a hardship post and sometimes children have to go to a boarding school in a different country because there are no schools near the embassy. We lose much of our privacy to the US government and depending on the post, live by Moscow Rules.

The recent unrest in Cairo has me thinking about the negatives. We will plan and everything will be fine, but we can't ignore the negatives that come with this new life. I will instead try to focus on Embassies in places such as Rome, Paris, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, etc. Can you imagine how amazing it would be to live in Vienna or Lyon near old friends? (yup- that one's for you Jen). The kids will have amazing experiences. They will be deficient in American pop culture, but they probably would be anyway growing up with wonkish parents.


Sharlina said...

An FSO friend and an EFM + baby were quickly evacuated from Cairo with relative ease (considering the chaotic situation). Not trying to dissaude you from European posts (we all look forward to them heh) but I think you guys would do ok in a situation like Cairo too.

Cary said...

thanks sharlina. that does make me feel better. it must be nerves from A100 that made me so uncertain about the future. As an art conservator though, please understand i am pining for museums.