Balanced Melting Pot

Posts Tagged ‘Caracas’

Makes sense, right?

In Caracas, Department of State, Expat, Foreign Service Officer Test, Oral Assessment, Personal Narrative Questionnaire, Questions on November 16, 2009 at 10:12 am

I guess it’s no secret that my husband and I enjoy the possibility of moving to new places; especially abroad. Back in June, before my husband’s transfer was finalized, I decided to research the process of joining the Department of State’s Foreign Service. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the process, as other candidates have done a thorough job with this already. My experience with the process has been the following:

June 2009 à Took the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT)

July 2009 à Notified that I passed the FSOT and needed to submit my Personal Narrative Questionnaire (PNQ) within three weeks

July 2009 à Submitted my PNQ’s

September 2009 à Notified that I was invited to the Oral Assessment (OA) and had 30 days to schedule

September 2009 à Picked February to take the OA

I’m sure the next logical question is: how does this all fit in to your plan of moving to Caracas?

Hmmm, it doesn’t. Well, sort of…

The plan is, if I pass the OA in February, my Top Secret Security Clearance can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months (sometimes 1 year) and given the amount of travelling I have done, I am banking on at least 6 months. That takes us to August 2010. Then, if I make it past adjudications, I will then be placed on the register waiting to be called for the next A-100 class (orientation for all Foreign Service Officers). At that point, I have the option of being asked to be placed on the Do Not Call list for up to 12 months; therefore, potentially being called off the register in August 2011. By then, we will have been in Caracas almost two years and will consider our options at that time.

Why the self-induced torture? I think I went through the process 1) for the experience and 2) to keep our options open. Makes sense, right?

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You’re moving where?

In Caracas, Expat, Parenting, Questions, Thoughts, Update on November 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm

So, every time I tell people that I’m moving to Caracas, I tend to get the same list of questions. Sensing a reoccurring theme with these inquiries, I have decided to post them with the answers below.

Q. Is this a good thing?

A. Yes, it’s a very good thing. My husband has received a great promotion – one for which he has worked hard.

Q. Do you speak Spanish?

A. No, but my husband does and he makes a great tour guide ;-).

Q. Why Venezuela?

A. That’s where hubby wanted to go and it’s not so far fetched – there are strong historical ties with Haiti.

Q. What are you going to do there?

A. Learn Spanish, help the kids get adapted, learn the culture, eventually find a position with an NGO, and of course – write on this blog :-D.

Q. For how long will you be there?

A. Not sure. We are planning on five years, but I have learned to be flexible with our plans because ya never know.

Q. Are the kids excited?

A. Well, my two year-old has no clue. But my daughter (7 years-old) is very happy about the opportunity to learn Spanish.

That’s all I got for now. Let me know if you have one that’s not listed and I will gladly answer.

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Schools of Thought

In Caracas, Cultural Expectations, Education, Expat, Parenting, Questions on November 2, 2009 at 11:56 am

One of my first concerns with moving to Caracas was the school choices for the kids. I wasn’t sure in which language I wanted them to be taught, but I definitely wanted the school to be accredited by an internationally recognized entity. This isn’t too much of an issue in the primary years, but I have seen too many children have to play serious catch up because certain courses did not translate correctly.

So, my choices for Caracas were two American schools and one French school. I knew the children would be exposed to Spanish regardless and since they are both in English only schools now, I considered not disrupting this in the transition. However, the American schools were insanely expensive 😯 and the French school’s program is very similar to my daughter’s previous school and I think my son would easily adapt at his age.

So, after examining our choices, I am opting to place them in the French program. I had the opportunity to visit the campus while I was in Caracas a few weeks ago and it looks promising. My only concern now is that they might not get as much exposure to Spanish since we will mainly speak English and Haitian Creole with them at home. Hopefully, they will make friends outside of school, as well which will give them an opportunity to speak Spanish uniquely.

Would you have made the same decision if you were in my shoes? If you had to pick 3 languages for you or your child(ren) to know, which would they be?

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