March 17, 2009

One Year Ago Today…

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , at 8:43 pm by Jenn

One year ago today was my first day of work as the CLO (Community Liaison Coordinator) at the US Embassy in Belarus.  It was an interesting first day on the job.  The Ambassador had departed Belarus the previous Wednesday, and now we were being asked by the Belarusian government to reduce our staff in the coming weeks and I was responsible for “morale” at the Embassy.  The 20 hour a week job that I was hired to perform quickly, seemingly overnight became a 40 hour + per week position.  Needless to say, I felt like a fish out of water, flailing, gasping for air, my own future uncertain.

The days and weeks that followed were no less stressful and emotionally difficult.  Our Embassy was downsized YET AGAIN and 10 additional Americans and their family members were declared “persona non grata” by the Belarusian government and asked to leave the country by May the 2nd at 3pm.

The group of us met and caravaned to the Lithuanian border as a group.  Just before the border we stopped andbid farewell to those few Americans that we would leave behind.

Today, I’m sitting in Baku, Azerbaijan, waiting and wondering again what the future holds.  Our time in Baku is nearing an end and we are waiting to hear about our next assignment.  The circumstances related to today and one year ago are totall different, but the feeling is still the same…like a fish out of water.

March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.  In the future I may forget to wear green (though doubtful – I have my once a year sweater) but I will never forget the events that occurred in Belarus, or the friends we left behind.

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May 16, 2008

Minsk 11

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , at 2:18 pm by Jenn

As most of you know by now Scott and I were among the diplomats who left Belarus on May 3rd.  Ten (10) American diplomats were declared persona non grata and the 11th (Scott) left for administrative reasons. 

This news wasn’t widely covered in the United States, but did finally make the May 12th episode of the Colbert Report.  We also managed to make it to YouTube.  This video was taken on the day we left.  Max has a cameo.  I fortunately did not make the video.  I was probably off to use the restroom as my traveler’s bladder was calling.

What this video depicts is the pre departure and the convoy heading toward and crossing the border to Lithuania.  What this video does not depict are the friends and co-workers that we left behind.

Yesterday the US imposed further sanctions so I’m sure this is all far from over.  Stay tuned.

 

May 9, 2008

R&R

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , at 1:21 pm by Jenn

Well, there’s nothing like being a refugee!  We are officially homeless.  We are temporarily hanging out in Vilnius, Lithuania waiting on new orders and taking a much needed break from the political craziness. 

We left Belarus via convoy last Saturday morning.  Crossing the border was uneventful, but I did get a salute from the Belarusian border guard so I guess that’s saying something.  Once we crossed the border we were escorted to our hotel by a police escort….AWESOME…except for the fact that I was almost Tboned at an intersection by a guy who obviously wasn’t paying attention to what was going on.  That was scary.

So here we are, haning out.  Max has made friends with all of the hotel employees and many of the guests.  He thinks he is big stuff walking around here. 

We are definitely on our way to Baku.  Azerbaijan.  Another place I never would have considered living and had never even heard of until this experience.  I am looking forward to it and hoping that with all the oil and gas companies there maybe I’ll be able to get a job as some sort of corporate wellness professional.  They speak Russian and Azeri (?) there so I’ll be able to get by with the basics.  I am definitely going to take advantage of the language programs that are available through the State Department to get more proficient.  I doubt that I’ll work at the embassy again.  This last experience was enough government for me I think.  I have finally been paid though which is a plus.

I’m off to the Agriculture Department here to pick up Max’s passport and export paperwork.  Pets require a LOT more credentialing than humans which I find just BIZARRE in today’s world.

April 30, 2008

From here to Baku?

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , at 9:30 pm by Jenn

It’s been a whirlwind kind of day.  Overcast, cold and windy here in Belarus with this news coming this afternoon. 

Looks like it’s official now!  We’ll be heading for a new destination in the very near future, possibly Baku, Azerbaijan.

Not really crazy about that, but hey, at least I’ll be able to speak Russian and continue building on the language that I’ve already started.  That’s a bonus – I won’t have to stress out about asking for a bag at the market or trying to figure out what is sour cream and what is milk and trying to read labels because I can already do all that stuff!  I’ve done a little reading already and it looks like there will be a better variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available there and it’s right on the Caspian sea which likely means FISH!  Another bonus is a house over an apartment which means hopefully a yard for the little man!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed…of course nothing is for certain until I’m sleeping in a bed in Baku! 

I wonder how long it will take for me to get my stuff?

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