Saturday, June 23, 2012
I'm sure you all recognize this flag. Today was the day the members of my A-100 class received their first assignments in a ceremony at the Foreign Service Institute, and this was the flag given to me when my name was called. To be more specific, I'm being posted to our consulate in Shanghai 上海 for a position in the consular section. It's a two-year tour that begins next February, and between now and then I'll be undergoing various trainings, including a 21-week course beginning in September that will try to bring my poor Mandarin skills up to something approaching snuff. In other words, I've got a lot of work ahead of me!
Both my wife and daughter were overjoyed to hear the announcement. Amber, in particular, was so happy to hear the news that she started singing the National Flag Anthem...of the Republic of China 中華民國, aka Taiwan. My little girl has already been given her first lesson in the pitfalls of international geopolitics.
Diplomatic faux pas aside, everyone was satisfied with way things turned out today, myself included. Going to China had not been a high priority for me when I entered the Foreign Service, but once the first bid list came out, and the importance of attaining proficiency in Mandarin in terms of career development became apparent, the available Chinese postings quickly catapulted to the top of my list of preferences. So it looks like I left Taiwan to move back to the United States in order to prepare for an eventual move to China. I don't see any ironies here - do you?