The Foreign Service Journal, May 2024

52 MAY 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL China: Lockdown in Shanghai KRISTIN BUCHANAN I was most proud to be a part of the Foreign Service during Shanghai’s brutal 61-day lockdown in the spring of 2022. The consulate in Shanghai went on ordered departure, and a small team of consular officers remained at post to assist American citizens in distress. We continued providing special and routine consular services, including Consular Report of Birth Abroad interviews, in front of the apartments where American families were locked down. We facilitated the release of American citizens from their residences to travel to the airport to board flights to safety, maintained communication with Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 and were sent to makeshift quarantine camps, and tracked threats of violence against Americans during a time of intense antiforeigner sentiment. This was all accomplished while we were locked down ourselves, denied access to our offices. The dedication, resilience, and resourcefulness shown by this skeleton crew will stay with me for the rest of my career, and everyone I served with became a lifelong friend. FOCUS ON CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION Foreign Service Proud 100 Words for 100 Years As AFSA and the FSJ began planning for dual celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the modern Foreign Service and the 100th anniversary of AFSA, we asked members of our community to share—in 100 words—moments when they felt Foreign Service proud. They did not disappoint. We hope the resulting stories, from all corners of the globe and across decades, will help expand public understanding of the important work that the Foreign Service does every day, overseas and at home. —The FSJ Team Saudi Arabia: A Woman at the Table AMBASSADOR RACHNA SACHDEVA KORHONEN I arrived in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, at the end of July 2017, a few days before Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan. As the first woman consul general (CG), I was told that I was not invited to the official breakfast held by the governor; and, in fact, I would only be able to visit a few of the many families the previous CGs had visited. It was sobering. I still have the note from our local staff listing which families would accept a woman guest and which would not. Over the next year, I got to know our Saudi hosts, and slowly they grew more comfortable with me. I was no longer a female CG, just the CG. I wasn’t invited in 2017, but in 2018 I became the first and only woman to attend the Emir’s breakfast. That year, along with my team, I visited more than 100 homes during Ramadan and Eid. So many Saudi women have since told me that seeing me as the only woman with all those men gave them the courage to ask for their own invitations. Ours is the only country in the world that dares take the chance of sending a woman (a brown one, no less) to a place where we had been sending men for more than 75 years. I am so proud to be an American.