I just finished my month-long training in DC for my next assignment, which means that I'm back home in Texas and not taking many pictures. However, while in DC I came across the Algerian visa services office, which is just a few blocks from my temporary apartment in Dupont and occupies a tiny office in the bottom of an apartment complex. Most people wouldn't look twice at it, but I found it totally hilarious that this entire country's visa services for the U.S. can be run out of a one-room shop, whereas our visa services for China occupy giant buildings and service thousands of people a day.
There's probably just one guy sitting behind a desk in that office, hoping he might get one or two visa applicants this week:
Whereas Consulate Shenyang's daily visa applicant pool is more akin to this:
On my last day in Shenyang, I ran my stats in the NIV system and found that over the course of 21 months I had interviewed 22,150 people, refusing 40 percent. Taking into account vacations, holidays, rotations, etc, that averages to about 70 interviews a day for 21 months.
After I arrived back in the States, after two days at home in Texas, I went straight into training for my next post - Kabul, Afghanistan, where I will thankfully NOT be adjudicating visas. Training was super short - just one month - which I like, since I hate going to FSI (Foreign Service Institute) for training. There is zero public transportation to FSI (in northern VA), the cafeteria food is not good, and I don't like the feeling of being in limbo between assignments. I did the minimum amount of training for an assignment in Afghanistan, which consists of a 1-week Afghan familiarization course, a 1-week counter-terrorism course, and a 2-week political/economic tradecraft course (required for all first-time political/economic officers). I didn't get any Dari language training, but hopefully I can learn some while in Kabul.
After I finished with my training, I flew back to Texas for my month-long mandatory home leave (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/85089.pdf). So now I'm chilling at home, taking some online FSI courses to prepare for my job in Kabul, and seeing friends.
Terrifying Octocone found in the wild
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