September 2009: Onward Thither
Life as a foreign service officer began on March 30th. My first post will be in Bogota, Colombia. Since my arrival I have been through a five week orientation, rotated into the Latin American & Caribbean Bureau and moved to the language institute. I am currently enrolled in Spanish. As for my work in general, I have decided to wait on forming an impression of the Agency. In short, it is a newly empowered agency with more resources than its had since the end of the cold war; this resulted in a massive hiring of foreign service officers, with whom the agency is still learning (luckily quickly) to integrate. I think they did the right thing :) Below is my orientation class, DLI 5.
Anthony's Wedding!On to more fun things! My brother betrotherd himself to Jaclyn Darrouzet-Nardi on September 5th, 2009. The service was outdoors, with beautfil dusk light. It was well attended and it was easy to see how much they appreciated one another. The reception was really fun, also. Anthony arranged much of the dance music, which meant it was basically a funk dance party - my favorite kind of dance party. It was great to be with the family. I'm sure more pictures will emerge, but for now here is one from the reception!
We did it - the Darrouzet-Nardi's have gone on a summer vacation together for the past 20 years. This year my family came out to visit me in Northern Virginia. It was only for five days or so, but a great time was had. We checked out the musuems, Dupont Circle area, Mt. Vernon, Old Town, and more. Family vacations are always too short. I hope to have a slide show shortly!
Development Leadership Initiave 5 (DLI 5)
DLI 5 is the name given to my orientation class at USAID. As mentioned, USAID is drastically increasing its number of foreign service officers in an effort to rehabilitate the number of civilians capable of handling foreign issues. If you want to be up on the political jargon, the government speaks often of the "3 Ds", which is Defense, Diplomacy, and Development. Having the word 'development' in that list has pleased many old USAID folks who thought they'd never see the day.
My class had 40 people, with technical specialties in economics, private enterprise development, agriculture, the environment, accounting, program management, crisis stabilization, the law, and contracting. That covers most, but not all, of the technical specialties within the Agency. Upon starting, the age ranged from 24 (me) to mid-fifties. Lots of the hires are ex-Peace Corp. As a whole the group is social and smart. I've had a great time getting to know them. Below is a picture of our first weekend after orientation began; it just happened to be the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Basically, I lucked out. My first post is going to be in the highly regarded city of Bogota. On "flag day" - when all the DLI members finish orientation and are told their assignment by the bestowal of a flag - I received Colombia's flag. I knew very little of the country, but the reaction I got from others was primarily that of excitement for me (or said another way, envy). That sentiment has continued as I meet more FSOs and folks who know Colombia. I am certainly excited to move to my three bedroom apartment in northern Bogota. I expect to be working on the "Alternative Development" project, which incentivizes the growing of licit crows in place of coca. That said, my project could change at any point between now and then. Here's the link to the USAID Colombia website.
A high school friend of mine, Jake Kuipers was married at the end of May to Julie Rankin. Jake also graciously housed me when I first arrived in DC. His wedding was laudably executed. It was most fun for me to reunite with many of my closest friends from high school - especially for such a marvelous event and in the lovely state of Vermont.
Friends VisitI've had great fortune by the way of friends visiting me in DC. My friend Khrisha, from LSE, spent three weeks with me, Omeed (high school) came briefly, Colin (LSE) briefly, and Jesse (high school) came for a week. It was awesome getting to see them all, also. Photos to come!
"Hiking"I write hiking in quotations because my walks here in DC are a little reminiscent of walks in the UK. If you notice, one doesn't buy "hiking" guides in the UK, but rather "walking" guides. The rambles in the Virginia area have been somewhere in between. Nothing overly strenuous. Below is a view that overlooks the borders of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Regarding hikes, the most exciting by far was returning to my field site from SCA. The Student Conservation Assocation (SCA) is a government funded environmental project program. I participated when I was 16 years old. The Department of the Interior oversees the project. Humpback Rocks was as beautiful as I remembered; and I even added something special to my memory of it.
And below I contrast a 16 year old Chris vs. a 24 year old Chris. Looks like I'll be due in 2017 for another shot. My pose is a little less adventurous and a little more pretentious, I'm afaid. Click to enlarge.
And finally, I turned 25 on August 23rd!
Homepage for Chris Darrouzet-Nardi
Updated September 22nd, 2009