Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Patron Saint of Arabic Studies

I tried to get into an Arabic class, but I have a very limited window when I'm available due to kids' schedules and babysitter availability. The one class that would have worked for me was full, so I reluctantly gave up the idea of studying Arabic this year.

Then, this morning, I ran into one of the very senior spouses at the Embassy. We chatted for a bit, and when she asked why I wasn't enrolled in Arabic, I told her.

It turns out she was headed toward the classroom herself, so she brought me with her and talked the teacher into admitting me into an already-full class. The teacher gave me a stack of vocabulary lists to memorize by Tuesday so I can try to catch up. And just like that - I'm going to start classes on Tuesday. Assuming, of course, that I can work on those study sheets and not make a fool of myself.

Like I said, this woman is very, very senior in the hierarchy of the Embassy. Sometimes you hear scary stories about the higher-ups. And sometimes, they're true. But so often, I've found the spouses of the senior-most diplomats to be nice, nice people, willing to share what they've learned over the years and not at all snooty about their husbands' (usually the husbands') jobs.

The DCM's wife at our first post ended up being one of my favorite people in the whole of the Foreign Service. Her husband was, at the time, the #2 person at one of the biggest Embassies worldwide - which means she was equally busy and important in her own role as his spouse. But she and he couldn't have been nicer, more down-to-earth people. Remind me to tell you some stories about the ways they helped us through that post some time. We were lucky enough to serve with them at another post, where he was the Ambassador - and still just as nice as can be. We narrowly missed serving with them at a third post, and I've always regretted that. If you knew this couple, and knew the kind of work they did every day of their professional careers, you'd feel certain that our day-to-day foreign policy operations are in the hands of the right people.

We had another fabulous Ambassadorial couple at another post. I got sick within days of arriving at post and had to be medevaced. When I returned to post, she was one of the first people who called me and offered to take me shopping or bring me a dinner. Not long afterwards, our dogs were in a training class together when my dog decided to lift his leg and pee right on her shoe! To say I was mortified would be an understatement. But she was so nice about it - funny even - that I felt better. (I never let my dog near her again, though.)

So you see? You hear stories about these snotty, privileged ladies who spend their life in the diplomatic corps, and more often than not, they simply aren't true.

The lady who helped me today actually ended up eating into her own class time to get me situated, but she never mentioned it. I only learned that it was her class time when the teacher told me.

So there you have it. With some help from high places, I now have the chance to study some Arabic. Now: to study. I don't want to blow this chance.


FSO Hopeful said... [Reply]


Linsey said... [Reply]

Thank you for posting this. My experience with this group has not always been positive and I am always happy to hear about the exceptions.

Emily said... [Reply]

I am so glad that you are able to take Arabic, that will be wonderful!
I am also grateful for nice people in the world. It certainly makes life so much better.

Daniela Swider said... [Reply]

Awww, it's wonderful that you got into Arabic and how terribly nice of this lovely lady to help you!

Best of luck with Arabic!!! And yey for cool people!

Jen said... [Reply]

Wonderful news! I love it when life throws happy surprises (and great people) our way...

Please. Write your own stuff.