Saturday, July 4, 2009
Happy Birthday USA!
This is our first 4th of July in the Foreign Service, which was different than our previous ones. Instead of just being a day to celebrate the nation, living outside the country really makes one focus on how the US compares to your host country and how others perceive the US.
At many posts, there is an official 4th of July event with government officials, community leaders, etc., and a separate event for post's employees and their families. This year our post decided to not have a community event, since we are so small and the enticement of a full three day weekend off was so strong.
Our Consulate celebrated its official 4th of July on July 2nd, with a large event at a very nice hotel. All American employees, with FSNs and other local employees, worked the event. It was a great showcase of team work at the Consulate - employees from different sections working together to make sure that the event went well and that all guests were having a great time.
As the official 4th of July event is typically the biggest event of the year at US embassies and consulates, it will be interesting to compare this experience to July 4th events at future posts, which will have a high bar to cross in comparison.
Some tips we picked up for working the 4th of July event:
*Pick your shoes carefully, by the end of the night your feet are guaranteed to hurt. One officer had the brilliant idea to switch shoes several times during the night to minimize the aching.
*Eat a snack before the event. Since guests should come first for the food lines, having something in your stomach will prevent you from staring at some one's plate instead of them when chatting.
*Study the guest list ahead of time, so that you get an idea of who may be invited from other sections.
*If you are drinking stick to clear beverages, like white wine. This tip came to us by a very smart officer who was bumped into in the past and had to wear her drink for the rest of the night.
*People standing by themselves typically appreciate someone talking to them.
*Think of a few general questions to ask guests prior to the event.
Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net