My First Month as CLO

Foreign Service LifeMalawi
February 8, 2017


Hey all – Did you miss me? Sorry about the lack of blog posts. Turns out this work/life balance thing is WAY harder with an office job. Go figure. Speaking of jobs, I’ve been asked for more details on how things are going. Happy to oblige!

For starters, I still don’t know how to get a pen. I plan to tackle that in month 2.  :)  The event planning, on the other hand, is off to a jolly good start. My first event was a co-sponsored Trivia & Movie night at the Marine House. For those not familiar, the Marine House is where our Marine Guard Detachment live. I know the Marines way better here than I ever have at other posts and I’m so enjoying that connection. The event was a huge success, with 75+ people turning out. The grown-ups enjoyed adult beverages & trivia while the kids viewed The Secret Life of Pets movie. Total win/win.

I’m also about to help the Marines kick-off an 8 week Bootcamp for the Embassy community. I’m can’t wait to see how it’s received. Shockingly, I’m even thinking about participating! Booty, get ready to be kicked…

Another program I launched last month was called the Lilongwe Supper Club. This is the program I’m most proud of thus far. Here’s how it works. Each Supper Club is made up of 4 units. A unit can be a family, a couple or a single. Participants designate if they want to be in an adults-only Supper Club or a families Supper Club where children are included. Each club will meet 4 times – once a month for 4 months, with each unit hosting once at their home.

One of the challenges of our Embassy is that we are spread out across 5 different buildings (none of which are adjacent). That makes it really tough to get to know others in a different agency (CDC vs USAID vs State, etc). Because of that, the focus was on creating parings of people from different agencies. The response wasn’t as big as I had hoped, but we do have 2 different Supper Clubs launching this month. The Novaks will be in a “families group”. I will be sure and report back after our first meet-up!

Oh, and let’s not forget failed programs. I had planned a Valentine’s-day High Tea at a local restaurant. We had a lovely menu picked with all sorts of cutesy finger foods like scones, tartlets and mini pain au chocolates. Unfortunately, we only got 3 sign-ups, which wasn’t enough to meet the restaurant minimums. Too bad, as I was really looking forward to it. Maybe I’ll just have to do that for my 37th Birthday instead…

The lack of interest in the High Tea made me realize that I needed to get a better pulse on what the community here wants, not what I’ve seen work well at other posts. So what did I do?? A survey, of course! Responses are still rolling in and the data geek in me is loving poring over the results. I’ve got all sorts of ideas bubbling up. And I haven’t even been to training yet! Imagine how revved up I’ll be after spending a week brainstorming & networking with other CLOs!

Lots more to come, but hopefully that will whet your appetite for a bit until I have time to write again!

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