Tomorrow is Flag Day - the day in which we learn where our first posts will be. Everyone is looking forward to Friday, no doubt with equal parts excitement and trepidation. After five weeks of waiting, the long-awaited announcements will be coming down, but there have been other activities going on this week to take our minds off of the event (at least temporarily). Take yesterday afternoon as an example - our class was invited to the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room on the 8th floor of Main State to hear Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and former Secretary of State James Baker engage in a "Conversation on Diplomacy". This was a privilege rarely afforded to an A-100 class, and it was especially gratifying to hear the Secretary acknowledge our presence in her opening remarks. The conversation was moderated by PBS talk show host Charlie Rose, and the video of the interview can be seen on his website (a transcript of the conversation can be seen on the State Department's site). I was impressed with the level of respect shown by Baker and Clinton toward each other, and it was interesting to compare the current secretary's carefully chosen answers to Rose's questions with the retired Baker's freedom to speak more freely (check out his remarks about Iran). Following the interview, our class was invited to join the reception, where we were able to partake of champagne and hors d'oeuvres - shades of embassy cocktail parties to come? The view of Washington, D.C. from the 8th floor balcony was fantastic, taking in the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials and the Pentagon.
For Pamela, the main draw was the chance to see Taiwan's own Chien-Ming Wang 王建民 in action: