The Foreign Service Journal, July/August 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY-AUGUST 2018 109 together. Hugs and tears and determined whispers not to say goodbye, but “until the next time.” Entreaties to keep the heart of the community beating, to keepmoving forward with the work. Then they were gone—60 of our col- leagues and their families. The rest of us dispersed reluctantly to pick up the pieces of our day. We had proven our resilience and strength in the way we performed the miracle of getting everyone out on the same flight, with all their pets, and with their household goods and cars following closely behind. Moving Forward After a relatively quiet departure from Sheremetyevo Airport inMoscow, the plane was met on arrival at Dulles with balloons, welcome home signs and the familiar faces of former Moscow officers and their families, many of whom them- selves had been forced to leave last August. A continent away, the Moscow commu- nity kept working. New social media plat- forms were formed to keep everyone in the loop. As our former neighbors landed at Dulles, photos of kids waving flags on the plane and reunions at Dulles were shared. Parents of jetlagged toddlers and babies met under the cherry blossoms in the D.C. dawn hours. Those same toddlers slept where they fell at morning information sessions arranged by our beloved CLO, who was determined to keep doing her job for the community from inside her living room at the Oakwood. They are no longer front-page news, but those who were forced to leave continue to demonstrate extraordinary resilience. In their temporary D.C. apartments, they worry about an uncertain future. Personal effects may begin arriving, but many still face weeks without a future assignment, in some cases separated from family members still inMoscow. Tears have been shed, sleepless nights have been spent, and anxious conversations held. There is nothing, it seems, that can keep this community down for long. We have survived not one, but two expulsions, and could write the manual on resilience, on how to survive separation and loss, on how to roll with the punches. Our community continues to thrive, to be a source of support and strength for those who are a part of it. There is no pretense in the courage of its members, playing the hand they have been dealt with dignity and grace. Back in the States, jetlagged children fall asleep without warning while their parents attend a meeting. Children of expelled diplomats wave an American flag during their flight out of Russia. Flags line the street on the Embassy Moscow compound in the days before departure. AJA HARRIS On the Monday morning after the departure, our ambassador, Jon Hunts- man, reminded those of us left behind of the need to link arms and carry on the work. Officers asked to take on the roles of their departed colleagues stepped up without complaint, determined to keep the embassy not just functioning, but moving forward. The ambassador has stressed the importance of public diplomacy, of reach- ing out to the Russian people and seeing in them an echo of ourselves—the impor- tance we all place on family, education, cultural identity and pride in country. These relationships we build will mend bridges between nations and rebuild political relationships. More than one departing friend said that it would have beenmuch easier to leave if they had hatedMoscow. The truth is, we who live here love the city. That is also one of the strengths of the mission. We are moving forward. That is what we do. n COOURTESY OF ANNE GODFREY THOMAS BRUNS