Sunday, January 16, 2011

Carry Me to Virginia and DC

How long might I have wandered if I hadn’t had the Foreign Service Oral Assessment on my schedule for March 19? It gave me an endpoint; I had decided to get to Southampton about a week in advance to settle in. It helped me work backwards in planning the Drive Across America and the trip to Southeast Asia that preceded it. I was one of the last in my stage to get settled somewhere – a few of my stagemates went straight home. Most traveled but were home for the holidays. While in Asia I met some RPCVs who traveled for six months after COS – maybe if I had met them sooner I’d have done the same!

But I did have this on the schedule, and the day before, I took the Hampton Jitney into Manhattan, walked across town to Penn Station, and hopped on an Amtrak to DC. Had I not had this plan, I’d have somehow made it to the Washington area during the Drive Across America; I had friends to see! Elisa picked me up, we had a delicious dinner and played some games, and I organized myself for an early start the next day.

I’ve already talked about the Foreign Service Oral Assessment – have I talked about it twice now? I’ve taken it twice! Maybe third time will be a charm? Maybe the third time will be in a different city – perhaps if I change my city I will change my luck! Anyway, I wandered by the White House to see Obama’s current digs and decompress, and then went back to my friends’ house for more games! On the Amtrak the day before, I had learned that my class scheduled for the following week in Chicago had been cancelled; I spent some time making other arrangements.

The next day Elisa and I took a walk in the woods. And then we went to a career fair with a focus on international development. Ran into a fellow Morocco RPCV there (not a surprise). I went to another career fair on one of the Chicago trips in 2009, but I haven’t been to any since. Maybe in 2011! I did get some leads – and the companies who are there are hiring. In fact, I later had an interview with one, right around the time of my Peace Corps Response interview. But I sounded like a long shot, and I took the bird in the hand. Anyway, that night, back for more games!

The next day, I went into DC on my own and saw a couple of RPCVs. Cherry trees in bloom – beautiful! Frank and I went past the Capitol Building and the Supreme Court (I haven’t toured the former since maybe sixth grade and have never been to the latter! They go on the list!) and then went to the National Portrait Gallery (I had never been there either – I liked it and want to go back and see more! The beauty of the Smithsonian is that it’s all free!) and to tea. Then I met Jennifer in Chinatown (another part of DC I had never been to) for lunch; she is from the stage before mine, and it was good to see how settled in she was a little over a year later. There were more games played that night, and a home-cooked Moroccan dinner at Elisa’s – delicious zaalook (eggplant salad) and kefta (meat with tomatoes).

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