Working Again

The last time I started writing a post for this blog was almost exactly one year ago when we were less than 3 months away from moving. This is Jen, by the way.

The name of the post was “My TO DO List Is A Mile Long.”

I’ve recently started working at the Embassy Bishkek and I, again, have a “To Do” list a mile long. So, I guess when my brain feels full, I am compelled to write about it or explode. Maybe someday I’ll publish the original post.

Working again after about 3 years as a full-time stay at home parent is pretty overwhelming. I’m loving it, but I feel out of the my depth. It doesn’t help that my job is definitely NOT engineering this time.

Sometimes I think that’s a good thing… Would I even remember how to do my old jobs??? But it’s still tricky to navigate a new type of job and a new working environment. I’ll explain that in a minute.

First, I’ll explain my job a little. I am a Co-CLO Coordinator. CLO stands for Communitiy Liason Office, and it’s my job to make sure the morale at post stays high by creating an inclusive community, and keeping lines of communication open between our embassy and the employee’s families who accompany them to post. It’s keeping track of all the spouses and children who live here, but aren’t at the embassy day-to-day. It’s planning parties at holidays so we can all celebrate together as a “found family” while we’re far from our home families.

The embassy is a little slice of the USA in a foreign land. For the families who are out in the city, trying to shop at the markets, going to the international schools, navigating a foreign culture, it can feel lonely. They are dealing with trying to handle the basics of life without being able to speak the local language (usually). They have recently moved from another country and need help learning their new environment. They want to know about the school options, where to find feta cheese, how to get a SIM card, if there is a soccer team for their child, where to get a massage, and so on.

To put it simply, I’m a party planner and a keeper of information. For those LDS out there, it’s like being the Relief Society President, but with alcohol. Oh yeah, and I get paid. 😉

Here are some interesting differences between working as an engineer and working at the embassy:

Most of my job now is talking to people, something I tried to avoid in my previous career.

My office is full of bottles of alcohol. Wine, beer, whiskey, etc. I don’t know where it all comes from, but I know I’m expected to bring it to parties.

There are many speeches. Speeches when you arrive, speeches when you depart, speeches at events.

There are awards. Awards are like currency. People compete for them, they go in your permanent file, they can affect what job you can get in the future.

Although I’m used to dealing with proprietary information, this job is on a whole other level. Sorry, I can’t talk about it.

Instead of making technical manufacturing prints, I make event posters.

I have to dress UP. This is quite difficult for me because my engineering uniform (jeans and a t-shirt) is not appropriate here. I had to BUY dress slacks. I had to actually BUY button up shirts. Sheesh. Thank goodness for casual Friday.

Children run all around the embassy and are actually encouraged to COME INTO MY OFFICE.

All of this will take some getting used to, but I have some awesome co-workers (Cameron included). I am looking forward to learning some new skills and getting familiar with all the different types of alcohol. But not TOO familiar.