The whole Pickering Orientation experience zoomed by in a blur being sandwiched in between two weekends at the beach in North Carolina. It was jam-packed, overwhelming, interesting, exciting, and honestly, really fun.
I feel very blessed to be in the company of the other fellows. The group truly made me respect the State Department, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Fellowship all the more. Not only was the group diverse (Black, White, Hispanic, Azerbaijani, male, female, Middle East Studies focused, Arctic Circle focused, etc), but people had amazing life stories. Above and beyond that, everyone was fun, kind, humble, driven, and open-hearted.
The more I delve into this whole Foreign Service universe, the more I find the State Department and the Pickering Fellows to be a supportive family that truly cares about their work and the world around them.
One aspect of my time in Palestine that I really loved was the community I found there. Here I was living my interests and dreams and around me were all of these young people who were intelligent, passionate, full of life and ideas, and always ready to delve into the issues and world around them right along with you. I knew then and there that I was meant for this career path. A career that would award me this type of working community of globally engaged people who put their whole heart into what they were doing.
When I met everyone at orientation, I felt like I might just have finally found another group like in Palestine. I really took peace in that, despite the unknown ahead, I was on the right path.
In addition, it was just surreal to be inside the State Department. (CAUTION: This is where it gets nerdy- to all of you saying to yourself “gets nerdy?”: shush!). But I have spent the past year working not far from State. Passing the building, studying its policies, sometimes interacting with people who work there. During the failed job hunt before I got into school, the State Department was like an impenetrable fortress if you will. I never imagined myself being able to get a job there. Then, Pickering happened. I still can’t believe it’s really happening to me.
During Orientation, I went into the State Department building for the first time. Seeing the shiny floors, hundreds of flags, etc was such a geek-out exciting moment for me. Here I was inside the building, touring Deputy Secretary Burns’ office, the Treaty Room, peering past Secretary Clinton’s office! Woah, too coooool. It still doesn’t feel real yet and maybe it won’t until I attend my first class at Georgetown or do my first internship or get my first embassy posting. But until then, I think I will just be in a sort of childlike giddy daydream as I realize that things I used to dream about are actually happening (you should have seen my face when they said I was going to get a diplomatic passport. Yep, always dreamed of having one of those!)
Anyhow, the week was amazing and we got to meet some incredible people including Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and Ambassador Pickering himself. All in all, it should be a fascinating experience ahead.