One year ago today I “arrived at post,” as we say. It was a Friday evening. My sponsors met me at the airport, helped me to check in to my apartment, and showed me how to acclimate to my new living situation. Thanks, R and M!
What a year it has been! I have applied what I learned in training, re-learned what I forgot, and learned what I didn’t learn but should have. My work and life here in China has been tiring, funny, exasperating, rewarding, inspiring, and humbling.
One thing it has never been is boring. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I have never been bored since arriving in China.
At the end of the initial orientation in DC, our instructors read to us the classic Dr. Seuss book Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Several lines in that book stuck with me, and still resonate, because they capture some truths about being a diplomat:
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t. Because sometimes you won’t.
And this one:
Whether you like it or not, alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
One year in, I still think that this job is perfect for me. I can’t really describe the pride that I feel when I represent my country abroad.
Thanks to my friends and family for your support, thanks to my great coworkers for your hard work and inspiration, and thanks to the taxpayers for paying my salary. (side note: travel and tourism is one of America’s biggest exports; foreign tourism supports 1.1 million U.S. jobs. In that light, the taxpayers are getting a good return on the investment that the government makes in embassies and consulates abroad).
I am now at the halfway point in my two-year “tour.” There’s so much more that I want to do, to see, to experience while I’m in China. I want to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. So I’m going to stop writing and go outside now. As the good Dr. Seuss wrote:
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”