Sunday, January 8, 2012

Yummy Food!

Emily went back to work this week, but luckily, I still don't have real work until Wednesday. Yay! What have I been doing all week you ask? Between some awesome meals by Emily and shoveling snow, I have actually been doing some career preparation. I don't want to bore anyone with too much detail, but I have been looking for a while into a career with the U.S. Department of State. Sound boring? Well, Emily and I love to travel, love different cultures, and love foreign languages. Coming to Japan has been a test to see how well we would do living abroad, and I think we pass. Although the Japanese language can be difficult at times, the culture and living style has been pretty easy to adjust to. The cool jobs I have researched in the U.S. Department of State have been to become an foreign service officer (FSO) or to work for the US Agency of International Development (USAID). In either case, we would get to live abroad and travel all around the world working in US Embassies. Sounds pretty exciting right? We think so! If you are interested in learning more about my research and preparation, keep reading. If you don't really care, then skip the next two paragraphs and go right onto the pictures; they will do the rest of this week's talking.

First of all, every time I read stuff about the Foreign Service and USAID, I get so excited and giddy, it's not even funny. FSO's are the people that run the US Embassies and Consulates all around the world. They are split into five different tracks: consular, economic, management, political, and public diplomacy. They each have their different functions, and FSO's stay in one track their entire career. After reading through descriptions of each, I found out that my organizational/get things done attitude would fit really well in the management track. As a part of that track, I would essentially be one of the people that helps all the other Embassy workers do their jobs and make sure that the Embassy functions smoothly. It may not sound as exciting to some of you, but I think that it would be fun to be part of a team that is pushing for better international relations. To become an FSO, it can take anywhere from nine months to two years. I would have to pass the Foreign Service Officer Test (a standardized test specifically for FSO's), write some personal narratives which are also reviewed by a committee, do an all day personal interview, pass medical and security clearances, and lastly sit before a committee that tells me if I am suitable for the kind of work that I would be doing. Pretty intense huh?

On the other side, working for USAID would also be really awesome. I have been intrigued by international development work and thought it would be so cool to do it with the U.S. Department of State. There are many different types of officers within USAID as well, but the one that stands out as most interesting to me is the project/program development officer. Although I am still having a difficult time figuring out what the specifics of the job would be, it just sounds awesome being able to develop projects that have such a big impact on lives around the world. To get a job with USAID, I have heard that I would need to get a graduate degree and have some international experience in a 3rd world country. It seems easier to explain than the FSO process, but takes a lot longer. I do plan on going to graduate school anyways to get a master's in public administration (MPA), but it would be hard at this point to get some good experience in a 3rd world country given that we will probably be starting a family in the next few years. Again, nothing is set in stone, and these are just a couple options that I have explored. I would love to hear any comments that any of you have in regards to these jobs and thoughts.
Shepard's Pie... yummy! Some people might not think it's that great... I'm not saying that Japanese food is bad, I mean, I love Japanese food!!! But, when you eat only Japanese food, you get cravings for food like this. :) We also had chicken alfredo this week... yummy!
This is Emily's bulletin board at school for the month of January. 
This is some soy bean hummus that Emily made. I want to say that it's yummy, but I haven't actually tried it yet.
Emily has been having fun with some of her free time playing with the sewing machine she is borrowing from our friend Chizuko. She made these cute pajama bottoms, a.k.a. "happy pants."
We hope that everyone has a great week! We love to hear from you guys and keep you in our prayers always!


  1. JIMI!
    First off... I'm so stoked for you man. Working in US embassies all over the world would be awesome. It sounds like the FSO position would be right up your alley. What kinds of things are they looking for in the narratives and interview process? It all sounds intimidating, but not too much for you to handle homie. Also just a thought, could you do a master's program in USAID and still get the experience needed for FSO?
    On another note, good call on the "Happy Pants" name. Looks like Emily could have a backup career in pajama fashion. You could change the world with the radiating blueness of those things.
    Keep yourself thawed out this winter!

    1. Dan, your comment about my beautiful pj bottoms made my day! I think I may go into the business :) Hope you guys are doing great. Thanks for reading!

  2. Love the information! Good luck with the career planning! Sounds great--you guys live all over the world & we will come visit just for fun :)

    1. Tricia - sounds like a plan. But first, we get to come visit you guys! It is looking more and more like we will be within at least a couple hours of you next year. Can't wait!!!