I am here, you are there

I’m in the middle.  You all are on the outside.  From a Facebook app.  I’m usually pretty careful with Facebook apps and you should be too, but this one was too much fun to pass up.

So, let me tell you all about the elections yesterday in Benin.  They didn’t happen.  We found out Friday night (for Sunday elections).

They were postponed a week to clear up the problems with the voter list.  I don’t think that can be cleared up in a week, but it’s not my call.  So, instead this past weekend we had a rooftop showing of Rocky Horror and a pot luck breakfast brunch.  Next weekend we’ll have an election to monitor…we think.

Less than six months to the end of my time in Cotonou.  It doesn’t seem I’ve been here that long, but the calendar doesn’t lie.  All those things I’ve been putting off…like souvenir shopping…need to get done in the next six months.

One of them is Ben and Jerry’s cone day.  Those of you who follow this blog will know I tried to convince Ben and Jerry’s to expand free cone day to Benin last year without any luck (in spite of the fact I went to Merrick Avenue Junior High School with them).  Cone day rolls around again March 23rd, but this time we’re DIYing it.  I’ve already made test batches of Vanilla and Coffee Heath Bar crunches, and Cherry Garcia (which needs more cherries, but that’s why we experiment).  I bought some bananas, so Chunky Monkey is next.

I’m going to sneak back into the US for a few weeks in April.  Don’t tell anyone.

4 Comments

Filed under Foreign Service Stuff

4 responses to “I am here, you are there

  1. Daytonbird

    Hello and good morning! Great blog and wonderful idea about Ben and Jerry’s Cone Day!🙂 I’m in the FS application process, having recently passed the exam and now just finished the narrative essays. I was curious about your own process.

    Last week, I met with an Officer in the consulate in Barcelona (closest to where I now live in Spain). He was super helpful talking about his experiences and the preparation process, but he also recommended I contact someone who had recently passed the orals (since he took them about 7 years ago). It seemed like some things had changed. For example, he didn’t have to write any personal narratives. It was just the exam and then orals.

    How did you prepare for the orals? Did you pass on your first time? I live about 2 hours north of Barcelona. I’ve heard that study groups (for ex. in DC) really help a lot but in my situation, but I’m not sure how to find something like that. I am considering my next steps before the summer orals, maybe taking some classes in public speaking and group facilitating at a college (and staying with my parents in Ohio for 2 months). Do you have any advice or suggestions on how to prepare myself better?

    I really appreciate any thoughts or suggestions!

  2. rkolker

    Have you discovered the Yahoo groups? The one for the orals is fsoa. My orals are slowly retreating into the past, but from what I’m hearing they haven’t changed much.

    Three sections: Structured Interview, Group Exercise, Written Expression (yes, there’s a written part to the orals). The folks on the fsoa group can tell you more, and there are Skype prep groups for people like you who are away from Washington. Check out the files for my Powerpoint prep for organizing yourself during the group exercise.

    Good luck!

  3. Thanks much for the info. I will check out your files. Did you prepare with a study group? If so, was it helpful?

  4. rkolker

    I did study with a study group. It is most helpful for the group exercise. Less so for the structured interview, not really at all for the written part (you can practice that yourself). For the written, the materials at the Yahoo group are less than you’ll get on the real test, so practice writing your essay in 45-60 minutes instead of 90.

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