The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2005

problems.) And, as I was a breast- feeding mother, I could not leave my son with a family member in another city. I was very disappoint- ed that the FSI child-care center could not (more like would not) accommodate my son for four days. As it happened, the mother-in-law of one of my A-100 classmates very kindly agreed to look after Ilan, thank goodness! Furthermore, I found out only in August 2004 that the course had been extended to five days (when I checked the Intranet I saw the fifth day added to the course information), even though there was no mention of it on my orders and I did not receive notice directly from FSI when the change was made. As I was already leaving my son with a stranger for four days, I was too stressed to add another day. Therefore, I opted out of the fifth day of training, even though I was warned by the coordinator that this would negatively affect my chances of promotion in the future. I did not request additional FSI training, either, because of this problem. If the State Department requests that employees take short-term training, they should be able to accommodate child-care needs either at Main State or at FSI during the training — without exception. State should expand their child-care program and hold open places for children of employees on short-term training. There is really no other option in the D.C. area for short-term child care, so employees should be able to depend on the State Department in this kind of situation. State should not make employees choose between their children and training. Elisa Greene Consulate General Tijuana u Like Night and Day I took FSI training from April to June 2003. This included the “Crash & Bang” security course for high- threat posts, a two-week area studies course, a mid-level leadership course, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People class and a couple of one-day computer courses. In early 2004, I returned to FSI for a 10-week public diplomacy training course and six weeks of “brush-up” language training. When I compare those experi- ences with the pre-Powell training, it was like day and night. From 1995 to 2000, I think I had four days of training — the mandatory EEO course and a two-day multi- lateral diplomacy class. I would have loved to take some other courses during that time, but it was completely unthinkable to propose such a thing to your supervisor. Anything that took you out of the office was viewed very negatively — you were a slacker. And the courses were badly taught, boring and of limited usefulness in any case. In 2000 I went overseas to a new assignment in a new geographic region without area stud- ies. I spent several hundred dollars of my own money buying books and reading up on my own time. In 2003 and 2004, the contrast with the past was strik- ing. The courses were well-designed, with a good variety of teaching methods for various sessions — lectures, Q&As, field trips, videos, role playing, brainstorming, etc. The range of topics covered was excellent. The FSO course coordinator and contract instructors were very good. I felt I learned a lot in each class, often things I should have known years ago. I found the department also much more open to training that was not “directly related” to the assignment you were going to, but would make you a more valuable employee, manager, etc. The old public diplomacy training used to be five or seven days, because USIA used an on-the-job-training model. A few years ago it was revamped to three weeks; then, in 2003 I think, was increased to 10 weeks, improv- ing with each expansion. All the students were new offi- cers or mid-level officers doing out-of-cone tours. The training was extremely helpful in giving us a thorough grounding and preparation to enable us to do our jobs well. Despite all the improvements, some aspects of training policy are still retrograde. I was in assignment limbo for two months, waiting for the bureaucratic wheels to align and someone to dot all the i’s and cross the t’s. The job I was waiting for was language-desig- nated, and I needed some brush-up. However, depart- ment policy is not to assign anyone to language training until the assignment has been made. Anyone with F O C U S J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 0 5 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 33 If the State Department requests that employees take short-term training, they should be able to accommodate child-care needs — without exception.