Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Last 17 months in 5 paragraphs or less


The last 17 months have truly been the most amazing of my life, so I really can't figure out why I haven't taken the time to write about them. Granted, writing a blog, with an audience of potentially zero, doesn't provide much external motivation, but I still love to write. And what is 20 more minutes of typing at the end of day full of typing? So what have I been up to since January/February of 2010? Well, a lot of traveling, learning, and generally just having a blast.

In March of 2010 I began what would be an extended assignment at the State Department in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science. I became well versed in international agreements related to air pollution, chemicals, and hazardous waste. In particular I geeked out (I mean worked) on the Montreal Protocol - the universally ratified agreement that is doing a pretty good job of getting rid of that scary hole in the ozone layer. From March to November I practiced being an enviro diplomat, traveling to Stockholm, Geneva, Moscow, and Bangkok. I loved every minute of it, but all good things come to an end, and so in December I returned to my home base of the Department of the Interior.

Back at Interior, I was offered the opportunity to take over coordination of our Arctic portfolio, which sounded like a great use of my latent Norwegian skills, and so I jumped at it. Since then I have been becoming the one stop shop for all things in the U.S. Arctic, which got me a trip to Copenhagen this past spring and has allowed me to flex my policy muscles in a very fun way. While it would be better if I could somehow stop the Arctic from melting, I've enjoyed being in the middle of conversations on how we can do better as a U.S. government in our role in the Arctic.

On the non-work side of things, I've gotten out in the world a bit as well. In March I fulfilled a long-held wish to visit Spain and in May I had a fabulous time watching a friend get married in Costa Rica. I've almost burned through my frequent flyer miles, but am starting to hatch some plans on what my next steps might be to get me up in the air and out in the world. Here in DC I've been spending lots of time exploring the city on my vespa, being outside, and tasting new beers. Oh, and I recently got a cat.

My two-year plus period as a Presidential Management Fellow comes to an end this fall and I will be moving into a more permanent status as a regular federal employee. That is, unless something changes. While I love working in DC on issues that I care about, my wanderlust led me to take the foreign service exam last month. I passed the written part and am now waiting to hear if I will be invited to take the oral exam this fall or winter. In any case, it has been an exciting year+, with plenty of things to look forward to down the road. Stay tuned.

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