Today is the 1st Friday in May. Going back about 55 years or so, the foreign affairs community—in particular my current employer, the U.S. Department of State—has celebrated Foreign Affairs Day. It’s an opportunity to recognize the work that diplomats and foreign affairs staff do both in the United States and at all of the diplomatic posts around the world to advance the security, prosperity, and values of America. My professional association/union—the American Foreign Service Association—really makes a big hoopla out of it with their #ForeignServiceDay and #WhyIServe campaigns. I participated on Twitter and Facebook by the way. As I’ll be entering Year 3 in my dream job this fall, I have so much pride in the work I do as a diplomat. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: my first day in Foreign Service.
How I first came across this moment? Of course, it’s all detailed in this September 2020 entry in the Dreams of a Diplomat series but my first day in the Foreign Service started when I got that famous email 1 ½ months earlier. I was invited to the 158-204 Foreign Service Orientation. On September 14, 2020, I logged into a Microsoft Teams meeting to take the oath of office…officially beginning my career in Foreign Service.
What it meant to me then? It was the realization of a dream. As I wrote in the debut post of the series, the pursuit of my current role in Foreign Service goes all the way back to my discovery of the Foreign Service Facility Manager position at the 2012 IFMA Facility Fusion Conference & Expo in Chicago. Taking the oath of office—the 3rd such time I’ve done so in my career as a Federal civilian employee—was an emotional moment. After the Teams meeting was over, I sat at my computer desk and just thanked God for guiding me to the moment.
What it means to me now? Even now, a whole 1 ½ years later, I still feel overwhelmed that I’m a diplomat. I’ve had many great days as a Foreign Service Facility Manager…and I’ll no doubt enjoy many of them down the road. But no matter what lies ahead of me, I’ll never forget Day 1. I’ll never forget how I felt and what it meant to take that oath of office, jumpstarting what I hope to be a long and illustrious diplomatic career.