The Foreign Service Journal, April 2020

80 APRIL 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL D o I miss the Foreign Service? Yes. Is there life after the Foreign Ser- vice? Unequivocally. It is whatever you choose it to be, because we all have an incredible stockpile of transferable skills. I moved back almost five years ago to where I grew up—Iowa City, Iowa. It’s a university town with all the amenities that a large city brings, but on a much smaller scale. I can get anywhere in 10-15 minutes. Really. The cost of living is lower, and I got a lot more house for my money. Why did I move back to what many consider “flyover country”? First, to make sure my younger daughter made it through high school, which I was pretty certain would not have happened in Fair- fax County. It did here, thanks to teachers and counselors and family friends—and her own efforts. For that alone, it was worth the move back. What do I do with my time? For one, I’m on the board of my synagogue and on the program committee of our local foreign relations council. I’ve been on the board of Shelter House, a nongovernmental organization that helps those experiencing homeless- ness, and so much more. In fact, one year ago, we opened the first permanent supportive housing complex in the state; it now houses 24 persons who otherwise would never have been housed. We are on the front lines of rapid re- housing, an approach where we quickly create the stability needed for a person to be able to move on with other aspects of his or her life. sworn in as a member of the Iowa City City Council, part of the first-ever female-majority council (five out of seven). I’m also on the county, district and state boards for the Democratic Party. In Febru- ary, I ran a 525-person precinct caucus. And, oh yes, I am now the legal guardian of my 2-year- old granddaughter, who has already met more presidential candidates than most Ameri- cans ever will. And I had their ear when I needed to push sensible foreign policy, as well as mental health and addiction policies. Try being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. You can really make an impact. n Janice Weiner served in the Foreign Service from 1987 to 2013, in East Berlin, Brussels, Ankara (twice), Warsaw, Toronto, Mexico City and Düsseldorf, as well as in Washing- ton, D.C. She now lives in Iowa City, Iowa. Try the Smaller Pond BY JAN I CE WE I NER Right: Running a 525-person precinct caucus in a high school gym, Feb. 3, 2020. Above: Happy graduate and mom, May 2018. COURTESYOFJANICEWEINER COURTESYOFJANICEWEINER The author marches with county Democrats in a Fourth of July parade in Coralville, Iowa, with grand- daughter on back. COURTESYOFTOMJACOBS We’re participating in a new joint county-cities venture, an access center where those in the midst of a mental health crisis or needing help with addic- tion can go to keep themselves out of jails and hospital ERs. It will help people and save tax dollars. I stepped down from the Shelter House board in December, just before being RETIREMENT SUPPLEMENT