On Freetown and well meaning State Department employees

Please stop saying, “I’m sorry,” when I say that I’m going to Freetown. Bertrand and I are thrilled for many reasons, among them the fact that, of the many challenges offered by the Foreign Service, the challenges that we’ll face in Freetown are among those we are very familiar with. Power? Water? Lack of availability of Western goods? Corruption? Cultural differences? Income inequalities? No roads? Flooded out roads?

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

This time, we get to do it in a home with real air conditioning. We’ll have a car. We’ll be able to afford child care, so both of us can work full time. We’ll have the State Department supporting us! And keeping everything running smoothly will be my job, not just something that has to be dealt with between projects and client meetings.

We’ve got two weeks left, and I am so anxious to go I can barely contain myself. Maternity leave was an amazing change to spend time with my new daughter, but now I’m ready to get to work. We said we wanted to spend six months in the States, and we’ve done just that. Needless to say, I’m excited to go to Freetown. I’m excited to start working as a GSO. And I’m really really really excited to start my Foreign Service career.

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7 thoughts on “On Freetown and well meaning State Department employees

  1. EH

    Two thumbs up for unexpected assignments! My first assignment was completely unexpected, to a place that other classmates were lobbying for but I felt “meh” about. I put on a brave face but felt slightly disappointed that it was taking me back to a part of the world near where I’d already been living before joining the service, ostensibly to “branch out” geographically. It turned out to be an amazing first assignment. There is nothing quite like the camaraderie of living in a difficult place! And you will learn a ton working as GSO – skills that will serve you for the rest of your career.

    Reply
    1. theresac Post author

      Thanks, EH. We actually bid Freetown very high, because it works for *us*. I’m glad your first assignment worked out! It’s funny that both you and the next commenter (Cupcake Diplomacy) spoke of community. That’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to.

      Reply
  2. Cupcake Diplomacy

    Ugh, tell me about it. I get this every. single. time. I tell someone I’m going to Ciudad Juarez. I’m so tired of telling people that I’m actually really excited about it and that we’re joining a really tight-knit, super fun community.

    Reply
    1. theresac Post author

      Can I get an AMEN! I’m sure you get it worse than I do. I think we’ve talked about this, but CJ was just about the highest “middle” bid we put down. Hardship means different things to different people, and I’m glad you’re excited!

      Reply
  3. Tom Nally

    Hi Theresa,
    Don’t listen to the State Folks, Freetown is not that bad. I was a volunteer in Benin in the early 90′s and it reminds me of that level of development. If you liked Benin, you’ll have not problem here. I am currently the PC Admin Officer here and my wife is also an RPCV from Benin. We look forward to meeting you and your family! If you have any questions and would like a “non-State” response, drop me an email at tnally@gmail.com.
    Cheers!
    Tom Nally

    Reply
    1. theresac Post author

      Tom, it’s great to hear from you! The weird thing about it is that many of those who’ve actually *been* to Freetown have wonderful things to say about it. I wonder if it, like some other cities in West Africa, have acquired a “reuptation” that they just can’t seem to shake.

      Reply
  4. Kathy C

    And …. You’re off! We’re so excited for you. About time you were on your way. Enjoy it. This is one of the most exciting times of your life!

    Love you!

    Mom

    Reply

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