The Foreign Service Journal, November 2011

NOV EMB E R 2 0 1 1 / F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L 71 A F S A N E W S standing leadership, dedication, initiative orimaginationinassistingFSpersonneland their family members serving at an over- seas post; and the AvisBohlenAward , for a Foreign Service Eligible Family Member whose relations with American and host- country communities at post have advanced the interests of the United States. AswithAFSA’s dissent awards, all per- formancewinnerswill receive a cashprize of $2,500 and will be honored at AFSA’s award ceremony in June 2012. AFSA POST REPRESENTATIVE OF THE YEAR AFSA also seeks nominations for the AFSA Post Representative of the Year . The award singles out avolunteerpost repwho has contributed toAFSA’s effectiveness by disseminatingpertinent information toFS personnel at post andby remaining active- ly engaged with post management. The winner receives a$1,000awardandwill also be honored at the June ceremony. NOMINATION PROCEDURES The AFSA Awards and Plaque Committee, chairedbyAmbassador John Limbert, acknowledges, reviews andvets all nominations. Submissions that do not meet the stated criteriawill not be consid- ered. For further guidance, information on nominationprocedures andpastwinners, please visit the AFSA Web site at www. Al l nominationsmust be submitted by Feb. 29, 2012. Please contact Perri Green, Special Awards and Outreach Coordinator, by e-mail at, tel . (202) 719- 9700 or fax (202) 338-6820, for additional details. Award Nominations • Continued from page 65 O n Tuesday, Sept. 27, AFSA’s Book Notes program hosted Patricia McArdle—retiredForeignService officer, AFSAmember, proponent of solar cooking andauthor—speaking about her first novel, Farishta . The event at AFSA headquartersmarksthe11thbookpresented in the BookNotes series, and the first time a novel was featured. Drawn fromher experienceswhile serv- ing as theDepartment of State’s senior rep- resentative on a British Army Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mazar-e-Sharif fromDecember 2004 to December 2005, the story reflects the challenges faced by civilians and soldiers throughout the country. Keeping detailed journals throughout herFScareer came inhandywhenMcArdle startedtotoywiththeideaofwritingabook. The time she spent in Afghanistan com- pelledhertopullthedetails together. “Iwas somoved bywhat I had seen, what I hadexperienced,” she told the group. “I felt that a novel would give me greater latitude to relay what people had to go through.” Shewovestories fromotherdiplomats, sol- diers andnewsmedia reports into thenar- rative, which took three years to complete. A couple of common threads run through many of the stories: insufficient training before deploying to Afghanistan and virtually no support on return. McArdlewas surprised that, apart fromlan- guage instruction, the only other training she receivedbefore she left theUnitedStates was a first-aid course. And evenmore sur- prising, there was no debriefing when she returned. “IwantedtomakePost-TraumaticStress Disorder an issue inmybook, somyhero- ine, ForeignServiceofficerAngelaMorgan, suffers from PTSD when she returns home,” she explained. Though shedidnot know it at the time,McArdle herself expe- riencedPTSD. At that time, neither Statenor the Defense Depart- ment had acknowl- edged the problem. McArdle’s path to becoming apublished author was highly unusual. Aftersending hermanuscript to sev- eral publishers, who rejected it, she entered it in Amazon’s Break- through Novel of the Year contest —and won. Theprize? Apublishingcontractwith Penguin Books! Issued earlier this year by Penguin’s Riverhead Books division, Farishta has received numerous positive reviews—fromthe HuffingtonPost all the way to the Washington Times , laughed McArdle. As a result of her Afghanistan experience, shealsobecameanimpas- sioned environmentalist and, in particular, a pro- ponent of solar cooking. “Everywhere I traveled, I saw small children being sent out of their villages to pull up bushes for their mothers’ cooking fires — children who should have been in school,” she recalled. McArdle said she remembered build- ing a solar oven as a Girl Scout. That memory led to researching solar cooking on the Internet, which led to introducing solar cooking to Afghanis. Today she serves on the boards of directors of Solar Household Energy and Solar Cookers International, and lectures on the topic around the world. Following her presentation, McArdle fielded questions from the enthusiastic audience, then signed copies of her novel. Farishta is available at AFSA’s online book- store at sources/FSReadingList/BookstoreFiction andPoetry.aspx. September Book Notes: Farishta BY DONNA AYERST All dissent and performance winners will be honored at AFSA’s award ceremony in June 2012. PatriciaMcArdle dis- cusses her debut novel, Farishta , at AFSA on Sept. 27. Keeping detailed journals throughout her FS career came in handy when McArdle started to toy with the idea of writing a book. DONNA AYERST