On June 1st I leave Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after a two year tour here working as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State. It seems like just yesterday that I came here. My life has changed in so many ways since I got "the call" to join the Foreign Service back in November 2009, and in just about all of these ways, for the better.
My work here has been very challenging and professionally fulfilling. Everyone I work with is an expert their own field, and this can be tough for you can never just "mail it in." I am challenged every day to do my very best, because everyone else around me is giving their very best. My job here has been to help run our Consulate here in Dubai: I am what is called a General Services Officer. That means that I spend my day managing the almost 100 housing units that our staff live in, running the warehouse, administering the motor pool vehicles and drivers, and processing a lot of the administrative paper work for the employees to live and work here. I am also the Contracting Officer for the Consulate, which means that I am authorized by the US Government to buy whatever is needed to run our mission here. Finally, I have a hand in planning the logistics for our many VIP visitors. As part of my job I have met Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Secretaries, Ambassadors and a whole lot of bureaucrats of every stripe. I have made many friends here and will miss them all.
Since Dubai is also a regional transportation hub, I have also had a fantastic opportunity to travel. Since moving to Dubai, I have been to ten different countries (the US of course, UAE, India, Sri Lanka, Oman, Jordan, Greece, France, Egypt, and Thailand). I have ridden in or on airplanes, buses, trains, boats, tuk tuks, dhows, abras, camels, limosenes, hot air balloons, armored Suburbans, bicyles, and horse drawn carriages. I have visited the White House, the Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, the Burj Khalifa, Petra, the Acropolis, the Temple of Poseidon, Versailles, the Dead Sea, and many others. I've learned how to read and speak some Arabic, have dusted off my college French, and of course learned to speak in native bureaucrat.
And now, a new chapter of my life is about to begin. I fly back to America in less than two weeks for a bit of vacation, and then back to D.C. for some training. I am going to learn Spanish and then it's off to Caracas, Venezuela in 2013 to do represent America in our Embassy there. I won't be in management there, though. I will be a Consular Officer: granting visas to qualified applicants and helping American Citizens in need.
I am thankful every day for this opportunity to have such an adventure and even get paid to do it! While I am a Grateful Dead fan (big time), the "Grateful" under my avatar here certainly has a double meaning. I am very grateful for this long strange trip, and I hope that the next chapter is as challenging, interesting, and fun as the first one!
Here are some pics! This one is Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton's plane when she came to Dubai
This one is of hand made caps in a souk in Muscat, Oman:
November 2011: Tahrir Square, Cairo, during a calm in between the storms of Arab Spring:
Visiting the ancient "lost" city of Petra, in Jordan:
On the island of Poros, in Greece:
Sheikh Zayed's Palace, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates:
GOOD BYE, DUBAI!