It’s been a ridiculous year. In late 2009, Bertrand and I were offered an amazing opportunity to work with one of the 2011 Beninese presidential campaigns. After putting in months of work, we pulled out of the project when the embassy called to tell me I’d gotten my security clearance.
January passed with no word from the embassy. We started kicking ourselves for passing up the chance to really make a difference in Benin. And finally, mid-March, I got the call. “Can you start in two weeks?” It had been almost two years since I’d been hired, and our business was doing well enough that we really didn’t need the supplemental income anymore. But the carrot of health insurance was powerful, and I took the job anyway.
Good thing I did. Benin’s economy crashed when a nation-wide pyramid scheme went bust. Our business was OK, but there were a few rough weeks when having a regular paycheck helped.
On a whim, I decided to take the Foreign Service Written Exam. I figured that if a stupid test was the only think between me and a luxurious expat lifestyle, then I should just take the damn test. I passed, and was invited to send in narrative responses showing that I’m a smart, organized cookie. Done and done. My husband and I postponed our planned trip home so that we could take it if and when I was invited to the next step.
I got malaria. Bertrand got malaria. We had a most-est awesome-est birthday party. Life continued, and in mid-Setpember, the invite to take the orals arrived in my inbox. Good thing we delayed that trip, right? I signed up to take the exam just after Thanksgiving.
Oops. That period was the busiest of the year for People Online, and Bertrand decided to stay home and run the business. He was so confident that I’d pass the orals that he figured he’d get another trip to the States in about a year. Bless his heart, he was right!
I passed the orals with flying colors, enjoyed there weeks at home, and then hopped back on a plane to Benin. Since then, I’ve been navigating the medical clearance process (done!), the security clearance process (done!), and now all that remain are the final suitability review and language testing.
While I was gone, People Online landed some amazing contracts. Bertrand not only managed to manoeuver us into a great position for the new year, but a great position to start transitioning to outsourcing and Western clients so that we don’t have to close our doors if I get hired by State.
Christmas was a blast, and now Bertrand and I are sitting and staring at each other in wonder. What will come in 2011?