When will you leave?
Late in April, after I complete some specific training in Washington, DC.
Will you get to visit home before you leave?
How long will you be there?
The tour is two years. So I will be there until about April 2016.
What about your family?
We still have one son in high school. My wife will stay with him in Michigan until he graduates. Then she will accompany me.
Will you be able to come home and visit?
I can take vacation time and visit home. I hope to be able to return home in June 2015 to attend our younger son’s high school graduation.
Will your family visit you there?
I hope so! I miss them like crazy, and I’ve only been separated from them for a five weeks.
What will you do there?
I will be a consular officer. A lot of the time, I will help people get visas to come to the U.S. for tourism, business, and study. I will also provide services to U.S. citizens in the area who need help.
Did you want to be posted there?
Believe it or not, yes. There were dozens of places on the “bid list,” in many different countries. This one was my top choice.
Why did you want to go there?
Many reasons. First, I wanted a Chinese-speaking post, a place where I could improve my Chinese language skills. Second, I wanted a smaller post. At a small post, I will get to know people better, and I may be able to do a wider variety of things. Third, I did not want to be in a big city. Actually, Shenyang is a big city by American standards – over 6 million people live there. But I specifically didn’t want to be posted in a mega-city like Beijing or Shanghai. Finally, I am interested in the history of the area, and I hope to visit some of the historical sites in the area.
What will be next?
There is no long-term plan. Trying to plan beyond a year or so is like trying to shoot a moving target. All Foreign Service Officers move around from one post to another, so the personnel situation at the posts is always changing. In about a year, I will be able to see what is (scheduled to be) available, and choose my next post at that time.