I’m a Lean, Mean CLOing Machine!

Foreign Service Life
March 6, 2017


Just back from a week of CLO training in Johannesburg and boy oh boy am I REVVED UP! Not only was the training amazingly comprehensive and well-delivered, but there were movies, food and shopping galore.

Learning + Big City Perks = HEAVEN

The Family Liaison Office (FLO) at the State Department puts on 4-6 trainings annually for Community Liaison Officers (CLOs). It just so happened that the next training was in Africa, so it was a perfect fit. It was an amazingly diverse group – 24 CLOs hailing from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and even Lima, Peru, my old stomping grounds.

Speaking of Peru. . . there were reunions to be had! I met up for lunch with one of Nick’s colleagues from Lima who’s now the Consular Chief in Joburg. And I also reunited with my friend Mary W, whom I also hadn’t seen since leaving Peru. So funny that we’re both now CLOing in tiny Africa posts! And of course I had to talk ‘all things Peru’ with the current Lima CLO, who I’d met previously at a coaching workshop I delivered in DC. And then let’s not forget all those familiar faces from FLO. All I can say is that it was a jolly good time. Nothing better than Foreign Service reunions in random places around the world.  :)

Can I just say that I L-O-V-E learning? It’s been so long since I’ve been in a classroom. I was joking with my colleagues that my husband would be mortified because I’m the girl who loves to sit in the front row and ask a zillion questions. Nick hates it when I draw attention to myself in large groups, but what can I say, I’m an extrovert!

Training was intense. There are so many things we covered that I hadn’t really given much thought to – like what our role is in the event of an evacuation, how to advocate for the community and who to refer family members to when a issue is beyond our abilities. I was absolutely in awe of the incredible amount of resources available to us and the best part was that now I knew exactly how to locate them. It was such a relief to realize that I didn’t need to be a subject expert on everything as long as I knew where to look for the information.

I was also amazed at how much my confidence grew in just 5 short days. Knowledge is totally power and I’m eating it up. Now what to do with the 100+ to-do’s that I wrote down?? It seems that I may have overwhelmed myself in my enthusiasm to make the most of training. Ooops! Time to get list-making…

Finally, I’m pleased to report that Nick and Nia didn’t kill each other while I was away. I was a wee bit nervous to leave my two strong-willed loves alone together (as I usually play moderator), but they managed to work things out and, I’m told, even enjoyed each other’s company. Wonders never cease!

I’ll write again later this week and tell you about how some of my first events went. In the meantime, have a good week!

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