[But before I get to either, a quick RoundUp note: Many thanks to Sara at Wife-Mommy-Woman for her RoundUp about Kitchens in the Foreign Service! Next week: Sadie at Sadie Abroad will be hosting on the topic of Collections in the Foreign Service: What do you collect, what do you want to collect, what do you wish you didn't collect, etc. Thank you for volunteering, ladies!)
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Okay, so, the good news is that I have officially made it through the first two (out of a total of four? Or five?) tests in my ConGen class without flunking out of ConGen.
This is a big deal, actually, because on the very first day of ConGen we were told all about what the expectations were.* (I'm really, REALLY glad ConGen does this, because language departments don't, and they end up with people behaving worse than kindergartners, which is really sad, and which may end up being a different blog post someday. We'll see. I actually have never blogged about this because I'm still so hopping mad over a lot of what I saw go down in language training. Some people need to grow the hell up.)
[* For example, and I'm not making this up, you will not eat full/hot/noisy meals in ConGen class. Nor will you play video games on your handheld, fun electronic device (during class). Nor will you take phone calls, nor will you text message in class. Nor will you be more than just a couple of minutes late to class. Nor will you ALWAYS be HABITUALLY late to class. Etc., etc., etc. Sounds like basic stuff, right? Well, you'd be surprised... I saw some truly egregious stuff go down in language training and if I wrote about it, I don't know that you folks would even believe me! Anyway... ]
And while we were being told what ConGen expects of us, we were informed that spouses/EFMs will be tossed out of ConGen for not passing the tests. If I remember correctly, if officers fail tests, they get recycled. If spouses/EFMs fail tests, though, they get tossed out on their fannies. Not that I have a historical habit of failing tests, mind you... it's just an extra layer of terror, is all.
So the fact that I have now survived two tests makes me happy. That's the good news.
The bad news is that as of Monday I'm starting the part of the course that is the most difficult. But before I talk about that, let me catch you up.
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ConGen: An Introduction
For those of you who have not (yet?) had the pleasure of attending ConGen, I'd like to help give you a brief introduction. In fact, how's about you keep up with me and we learn it together! Sure, you'll miss out on some of the finer nuances, maybe, but actually you can at least get a good idea of what James and I are up to these six weeks or so.
The first many days go something like this: A baby is born at some point in time in some random place on the Earth. Is that baby a U.S. citizen?
Hmmmm.... well, that question could potentially be easy to answer (the baby is born this evening in Idaho = probably YES!), and could potentially be harder to answer (the baby is born outside of the US and has only one biological U.S. citizen parent). YOU KNOW THIS WHOLE SCENARIO SOUNDS WICKED FASCINATING, DON'T YOU! In fact, you are DYING to go here and learn all about it! And when you're done with that, you want to learn all about passports!
Aren't YOU just the self-teaching wonder!
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(The above graphic is totally awesome and can be found here.)
The next many days of ConGen address the following: A non-US-citizen living in any country other than the US wants to come and live forever and ever in America. Do we let them? (Translation: Immigration stuff).
Well, you know. This is all totally complicated.
Someone interested in addressing that question might want to read about jobs or read about families or even go read that cartoon-thingee, shown above, if you haven't already.
In fact, if you want to self-teach a lot of the ConGen that you're missing, you can basically go here and learn that whole, entire website, and then go here and learn THAT whole, entire website (complete with the plethora of documents that would need to be filed in all scenarios *and* their filing fees).
[Also: No joke - I sorta kinda wish I'd reviewed those websites before starting ConGen. I think it would have been really helpful for me, as my background was in federal law but not immigration/citizenship/visa/passport/etc. law. So I walked in without any foundation, and spent a lot of time playing catch-up. Not. Fun.]
So, there you have it. What you've missed so far in ConGen.
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So. What's left now is what awaits me next week when I tackle the question: A non-US-citizen wants to come to the US to visit. Do we let them? (Translation: Non-Immigrant stuff).
Why do all the students I've spoken to who have already gone through ConGen universally state that this topic is the most difficult? That this topic's TEST is the most difficult?
Um, go here and look at that freaking long LIST. A nightmare of letters and numbers, my friends, and James and I get to learn them all in a frighteningly small period of time. (Complete with documents to be filed and filing fees for such.)
So if I'm not online much, it's because the frighteningly long list of letters and numbers is winning. And did I mention that I'm STILL not getting paid to do any of this?! It's the EFM's curse.
I swear to you guys, after being in training for almost the last YEAR without getting paid a DIME, my first State Department pay stub (assuming I can convince someone at post to hire me?) is going up on my wall, FRAMED, and in my scrapbook and probably even up on my blog. Because after all this time in training without even either of us being on per diem or in Oakwood or anything, I'm ready to send State a letter. Which would read, in pertinent part:
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Dear State Department,
FREAKING PAY ME ALREADY.
A Daring Adventure
p.s. Please? PRETTY PLEASE???