Welcome to our unaccompanied tours (UT) blog, Foggy Bottom Rambles! We can share information, programs, and resources quickly with you and since blogs are a two way street, we (and the other readers) can hear from you. What's in a name you say? This blog reflects how we (back here in DC, Foggy Bottom area) provide information (rambles) to you. Find tips from the field, websites and information, home is where the hooch is suggestions, upcoming programs and events and follow our book club. Let us know what you think: contribute to the blog or email us at FLOaskUT@state.gov.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

FLO Employment Resources

The Family Liaison Office (FLO) has many family member employment resources on its website. Below are just some of the resources available for family members. Visit www.state.gov/flo/employment for more great resources and email FLOAskEmployment@state.gov with employment questions.

 Frequently Asked Questions: Check out the FAQs for answers to questions about inside and outside the mission employment, returning to Washington, DC, FLO programs including the Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP) and the Professional Development Fellowship, and more.

 Functional Training: FLO manages enrollment in functional training courses offered at the Foreign Service Institute for EFMs in anticipation of employment at post. Available courses include Consular, General Services Operations, Facility Management, Human Resource Management, and Financial Management. Trainings are offered on a space available basis.

The Network: An email subscription service for EFMs seeking employment in the Washington, DC area. It is designed to connect family members with U.S. Department of State hiring managers, NGOs and private sector employers, as well as other employment resources.

The NCE Registry: The registry was created for EFMs returning from overseas who have earned NCE or who have Civil Service reinstatement eligibility. It is a tool to connect U.S. Department of State hiring managers to potential job applicants who are enrolled in the registry.

 Global Employment Initiative: In-country or regional Global Employment Advisors (GEAs) deliver workshops and will help with resumes, interviewing skills, employment strategies, and networking.

 Employment Publications and Resources: Includes publications about general employment topics, overseas, and returning to Washington, DC resources.

Monday, August 22, 2016

FSYF 2016 Fall and Summer Programs 

If you are in the Washington, DC area in the next few months, you and your children may be interested in the upcoming Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) activities. For full details, visit FSYF’s website at www.fsyf.org

Welcome Back Picnic and 5k Fun Run on September 18
The picnic, which also features a 5K run, is an opportunity for families to gather, network, reconnect, meet newcomers, and welcome back others returning from overseas. RSVP on the FSYF website.
College Workshop on October 15
College admissions expert and Foreign Service family member Rebecca Grappo will present a workshop on college application issues specific to Third Culture Kids.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Did you know?  

That an average of 15 percent family members work outside the mission? Eligible Family Members (EFMs) are permitted to work in countries with which the U.S. has a bilateral work agreement or de facto work arrangement. Before accepting a position outside the mission, EFMs must secure approval from the Chief of Mission. Family members can use the Chief of Mission Approval Memo template on FLO’s website, or check with post to learn if they have their own post-specific template. For any family member employment related questions, email FLOAskEmployment@state.gov.

Friday, July 29, 2016

EFM Job Opportunities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan

The Near Eastern Affairs and South and Central Asian Affairs Executive Office (NEA-SCA/EX) is pleased to announce the opening of currently available and Summer 2017 Eligible Family Member (EFM) job opportunities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan (Islamabad and Karachi) – Priority Staffing Posts (PSP). Currently, there are no EFM positions in Libya, Yemen, Peshawar, and Lahore. The Department of State and the Missions in PSPs are eager to hear from all EFMs considering employment in some of the highest priority Foreign Service environments.

You can find more information and a list of positions online. If you are unable to access the links with the lists of available EFM jobs or have questions contact Honeylee Temblador at TembladorHY@state.gov or Karen Foulks at FoulksKR1@State.gov. Applications must be received by September 26, 2016, for early consideration, interviews and offers.

Visit FLO on the Internet at: www.state.gov/flo or email: FLO@state.gov; or call (800) 440-0397 or (202) 647-1076.

To subscribe, email: FLOPublications@state.gov 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Shake it Off

Research consistently shows that humor and laughter improves resilience. In India, people practice laughter yoga as a means of building their resilience. Culturally sensitive jokes and clever humor can build bonds between staff in the work place and having a good laugh will help us handle daily stress.
Dover Police Dash Cam (Shake it Off)
So, if you need a personal resilience boost, I suggest you watch this YouTube video from the Dover Police. I’ve watched it dozens of times and I still laugh out loud every time I see it. 

Follow Beth Payne's blog Fostering Resilience

Friday, July 15, 2016

                           Cybersecurity and International Travel

Living or traveling internationally can leave gaps in your digital safety. Vulnerabilities can come from free Wi-Fi networks and technologies like Bluetooth. Hackers are waiting for tourist to show up unprotected, whether it is your cell phone, computer or another device with your personal information. Hackers are clever at getting your information and using it to drain bank accounts and other criminal activities. Like all criminals, they are looking for easy targets. Here are a few simple ideas that can move you up the chain from being an easy target, since many criminals would rather move on to an easier prey.

Criminals are getting your information by either stealing your device or by capturing your information digitally through cyber means. Either way you can make it harder for the criminal to access your information by using passwords and making sure your key accounts have two ways of authentication. Use a good anti-virus system and VPN software which encrypts information.  Don’t open links you don’t know. Hackers troll with these links in order to get your attention---so don’t be tempted to click on new unknown links! Consider purchasing your own hot spot. Turn off your Bluetooth. Back up your data. Change your password often and set up notifications, so if someone logs on to an account from a new device or location you will be notified.  While away don’t use networks without an authentication or password. Criminals set up free Wi-Fi connections in high-end tourist areas to troll for data. Once you log on to their free Wi-Fi, they can access your information on your device and take your pictures, your money or even your identity. They can also use your contacts, hijack your social accounts and possibly lock you out of your information for life. 

Keeping your data safe and secure while you travel, will save you from a lot of headaches and stress, if your devices are stolen or hacked. Don’t be an easy target. Criminals are working every day and making big money from easy targets, don’t be one of them. 
Carrie Pasquarello of Global Secure Resources Inc.  an International Corporation dedicated to risk mitigation and threat assessment planning. She has spent more than a decade in a Diplomatic capacity working and living abroad in Europe and Asia. Served with the US Department of State. Trained victim advocate in trauma, recovery and crisis counseling. 
Global Secure Resources Inc.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Foreign Service Assignment Notebook

The Foreign Service Assignment Notebook (FSAN) is the updated and expanded "go to" reference for the foreign affairs community. Do you need to know about logistics, caring for family members, resilience, or what technology you can use overseas? The FSAN has this and many other topics that are recurring themes for international assignments. No matter if you are going on your first tour or your fifth, this updated resource is a valuable addition to your planning and assignment 'toolkit'.

The current edition is available as a digital resource in PDF, ePUB (for iOS and Android), and MOBI (for Amazon Kindle) formats. The digital format makes it possible to highlight key references, add personalized notes on your mobile device and easily reference them during your move. This edition has been updated and organized with your needs in mind. Based on collaborative, inter-office input, the FSAN includes new chapters on topics such as resilience, safety and security, bidding resources, and more.

If you are transitioning to your next overseas post, the FSAN provides tips, references and advice to make your relocation and adaptation a bit easier. Download your preferred format at http://go.usa.gov/ctaK3.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Bidding as a Family
Posted by Beth Payne on Monday, July 11th 2016     

The 2016 bid season is just about to begin and for those of you bidding on your next assignment, this will be a stressful time as you maneuver new bidding rules, struggle to understand all those unspoken rules, and try to find a posting that meets all of your professional and personal needs. Bidding can be even more stressful on a family since each family member’s needs and goals add more complexity to selecting your top bids. Do you choose quality of schools over career priorities? How heavily do you weigh the availability of meaningful work for a spouse? How much does pollution or disease impact your decision? Should you consider an unaccompanied tour?
If your family will be directly impacted by your assignment, it is very important that you set priorities and make bidding decisions as a family. When family members perceive that their goals and needs are not being considered, this can cause resentment that erodes familial resilience. This makes the move to a new post even more stressful and slows the adjustment process for family members. Here are some tips on how you can ensure that you are bidding as a family.
Identify your goals for your next assignment as a family. List all of the goals each of you have, both personally and professionally — each member’s needs should be identified and noted. Then, work together to prioritize these goals finalizing your list only when you reach a consensus on family priorities. As a family you may decide that one member’s goal needs to take priority over others for this move, but the decision should be reached as a family.
View the bid list with goals in mind. For every job on the bid list, identify which of the goals that assignment would meet. Focus on your high priority goals and don’t get distracted by posts that seem great but don’t meet your goals. If you find yourself rethinking your goals, explore why. If you’re convinced you selected the wrong goals, go back to step 1 without thinking about specific posts and re-select your goals.
Keep everyone involved. Discuss each possible bid with the whole family, so that everyone knows what the possibilities are. Not only will such transparency avoid unpleasant surprises, but it can build excitement for the unique attractions of each post. Imagining multiple possibilities can be fun, relieving the stress of the unknown. Having something to look forward to with each bid can also help with the next item.
Manage expectations. There may be the perfect post on your list that meets all of your high priority goals, but are you going to get the job? Hopefully you will, but make sure everyone in the family has realistic expectations and understands that you may not get your first choice. Managing disappointment can be challenging – focus on the positive aspects of the outcome rather than what you’ve lost.

Be grateful. Once you have your new assignment, encourage every member of the family to write down what they are grateful for and looking forward to in the new assignment. Revisit and revise these lists as you prepare to move to your new city. Six months after you arrive at post, review the lists again and make sure you’re taking advantage of all the things that excited you about the posting months before you arrived.

Visit Beth Payne’s blog Fostering Resilience.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Reduced Tuition Rates for Employees and Family Members

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has entered into several agreements providing federal employees and their families with reduced tuition rates at a number of academic institutions. Visit the university websites for details.

 University of Maryland University College (UMUC) - Provides a 25 percent discount on out-of-state tuition rates on courses, certificates, and degree programs, many of which are available online.

 Central Michigan University (CMU) Global Campus Division - Provides a 15 percent discount on all Global Campus Division educational programs with access to online programs and classes at its satellite locations.

Champlain College - Provides up to a 70 percent discount for online certificate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs.

 Penn State World Campus - Provides a five percent discount with no program exclusions or out-of-state rates. Many programs are closely aligned with the government-wide focus on Mission-Critical Occupations (MCO) in Cybersecurity, Acquisition, Human Resources, Auditing, Economics, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Excelsior College - Provide a 20 percent discount on all undergraduate programs and a 15 percent discount on all graduate programs.

Friday, July 1, 2016

AAFSW Launches New FS Resource: FSHub.org 

Few people are aware of all the many resources that exist to serve the Foreign Service community, including government offices such as the Family Liaison Office, non-profits such as the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW), independent websites, and social media groups. To help solve this problem, AAFSW created FSHub.org, a free, comprehensive and searchable website that includes both official and independent support resources for all members of the Foreign Service community.

Users are encouraged to contact FSHub@aafsw.org to make suggestions or to join the volunteer team. Volunteers are especially needed from agencies outside of the Department of State to ensure all relevant links are included. To learn more, visit AAFSW’s website.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Introducing the New NCE Registry
The Bureau of Human Resources is pleased to introduce the Department of State’s Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) Registry, which will allow Department of State hiring managers to identify eligible family members returning from overseas who have earned non-competitive eligibility or who have Civil Service reinstatement rights.

Why an NCE Registry?
Family members who have earned NCE or who have CS reinstatement eligibility can use it to non-competitively apply for positions in the Civil Service. Under Executive Order 12721, Executive Branch agencies have the authority to non-competitively appoint to a competitive service position in the United States, family members who have completed 52 weeks (or 2087 hours) of service in certain positions overseas.

How does it work?
Eligible family members enroll by filling out and submitting the registry application. Their information will then be added to the registry. When a hiring manager has an open vacancy, he/she can request a list of potential applicants based upon their skills and experience.

                    Learn more about the registry and download the application on                              FLO’s NCE Registry webpage

Email FLOAskEmployment@state.gov with questions.

NCE Registry Webinar on June 29 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Join FLO and HR Shared Services on June 29 at 9:00 a.m. ET for a webinar to learn about the NCE Registry, including eligibility and how to apply. To participate in the webinar, go to https://deptofstatehr.adobeconnect.com/_a1002391156/flo/. Enter as a guest and type your first name and post. You will need a computer with a high-speed internet connection and speakers. (Webinar recording will be available after the event. Email FLOGlobalWebinars@state.gov).

Monday, June 20, 2016


Travel Safety Series

American women are increasingly traveling all corners of the globe. Their destinations range from the unusual and exotic to more common destinations for American travelers, such as Europe. Europe is often painted as an ideal international travel destination—due to the fact that relatively few communication barriers exist, cultural differences are manageable, and European countries generally espouse similar societal principles and values as the US (i.e. freedom, democracy, tolerance, etc).

Furthermore, most prime European travel destinations enjoy generally positive reputations in terms of safety, security, and openness—including for female visitors and residents.

Despite these popular conceptions and narratives, 
violence against women in Europe—like so many other places in the world—is a keen reality.

Carrie Knori Pasquarello, CEO Global Secure Resources Inc.
Jennifer Surface, Founder and Principal, Vantage Intelligence

Read the full post here.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Children's Resources

Resources for Transitioning Back to the U.S. with Children

FLO’s publication Bouncing Back: Transition and Re-entry Planning for the Parents of Foreign Service Youth provides parents with guidance on how to help their child transition to the U.S. The publication includes research and resources from professionals in the field of youth mobility and was written by adults and children who experienced the Foreign Service lifestyle firsthand. For more information on transitions and the Foreign Service child, visit FLO’s website.

Parents may be interested in signing up their children for the     Youth Security Overseas Seminar held throughout the summer by the Transition Center at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). The Transition Center also offers courses for adults, including Encouraging Resiliency in the Foreign Service Child and           Raising Bilingual Children. For questions about education and youth resources, email FLOAskEducation@state.gov.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Passport Acceptance Day at the Washington Passport Agency

On Saturday, June 25, the Department will host a Passport Acceptance Day at the Washington Passport Agency from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  This event will offer appointment and walk-in services for first-time regular (tourist) passport applicants, all minors, and individuals who are ineligible to renew their passports by mail.  Service will not be available for individuals who are eligible to renew or request an extension of their passport by mail (Form DS-82 or Form DS-5504).  Customers with appointments on this day will receive priority.

Customers must be eligible to complete, execute, and submit the passport application form DS-11 and have no immediate travel plans.  Routine passport processing time is currently up to six weeks.  Expedited processing time is three weeks.  Expedited service will be available for an additional $60 fee per application.  Will Call service and same-day passport issuance will not be available.    Individuals who want to renew a passport using Form DS-82 must apply via U.S. mail.

Event:                         Passport Acceptance Day
Date:                           Saturday, June 25, 2016
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 

Where:                       Washington Passport Agency
                                    600 19th St, N.W., Sidewalk Level (middle entrance)
                                    Washington, DC 20006

                        Appointments:           Toll-free number at 1-877-487-2778  

Payment:                    Check or money order only


For more information on how to apply for a U.S. passport, including necessary documents and fees, please visit travel.state.gov. U.S. citizens also may obtain passport information by phone, in English and Spanish, by calling the National Passport Information Center (NPIC) toll-free line at 1-877-487-2778.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Meditation for Kids

Research consistently shows the positive impact of meditation. For developing brains, meditation has as much as or perhaps even more promise than it has for adults and studies have confirmed the cognitive and emotional benefits of meditation for school-aged children. While there are now apps, classes and books that guide children in meditation, it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult.
Here are some exercises that Jillian Pransky, director of therapeutic yoga teacher training for YogaWorks and the mother of a          12-year-old, recommends trying with your children:
  • Elevator down: Imagine an elevator going down three floors. (Older children may prefer to imagine more floors.) Imagine now that the elevator is in your body. When you are sitting, imagine the top floor is from your head to your chest. The next floor is from your chest to your belly, and the third from your belly to your seat. Begin at the crown of your head. On your next exhale mentally chant “three” as you imagine the elevator lowering from your crown to your chest. Pause for an inhale. When the doors open, imagine your breath coming in and freshening up the elevator, the way opening a window brings a fresh breeze into the room. On the next exhale, mentally chant “two.” Imagine going down another flight to your belly. Continue to the ground floor, chanting “one.” Pause and feel your seat on the ground floor and enjoy landing fully.
  • Finger-counting breaths: This is a useful do-anywhere exercise for the middle of the day to calm a child who is having a meltdown at a birthday party or just to re-center. Create gentle fists with your hands, and with each breath, unfurl a finger from your palm. For example, on your first exhale open your left thumb from your fist. Pause and enjoy an inhale. On your next exhale, unfurl your left index finger. Pause and enjoy an inhale. Continue until you have two open palms on your lap. Sometimes we “om” for each finger unfurled, or use a personal mantra that evokes the feeling we are looking for, like peace, love, quiet, calm or relax. When children make up the mantra, it helps them have self-awareness of what they may need, as well as how they can take charge of how they want to feel.
  • Deep breaths before bed: Take a deep breath in through the nose, and on the exhale chant out loud: “three” (thrreee). Enjoy another deep in-breath, and on the next exhale, chant “two” (twwooo). Take a last deep breath in and exhale, chanting: “one” (onnee). Relax for a few breaths, and enjoy feeling your body sitting or lying on the floor or your bed. Repeat if desired.

Follow Beth Payne's blog Fostering Resilience

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Make Time for Those Who Matter Most

Learn to be the best spouse, parent, friend, coworker you can be with WorkLife4You’s help.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lift the Spirits of Children Experiencing an  Unaccompanied     Tour

Children of employees experiencing an unaccompanied tour (UT) deserve to be recognized! If you work for the Department of State, USAID, Commerce, Agriculture or Broadcasting Board of Governors and are serving at a UT designated post for at least six months, your children are eligible to receive a medal and certificate of recognition. Children must be an employee’s daughter/son/stepchild up to age 21. For more information, visit FLO’s UT Medals and Certificates of Recognition Program webpage. To nominate your child, email FLOAskUT@state.gov.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Did you know that Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 15-21, 2016?

As a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador in support of Hurricane Preparedness Week, the Office of Emergency Management in the Bureau of Administration (A/OEM) offers the following daily tips to guide preparedness for a potential land-falling tropical storm or hurricane.

Monday, May 16 Develop an Evacuation Plan
The first thing to do is find out if you live or work in a hurricane storm surge or flood evacuation zone, or in a home or office that would be unsafe during a hurricane. If you are, figure out where you would go and how you would get there if told to evacuate.

Tuesday, May 17 Secure an Insurance Check-Up
Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to ensure you have insurance to cover flood and wind damage or even to replace your home.

Wednesday, May 18 Assemble Disaster Supplies
You may need to stay where you are for an extended time until flooding recedes and roadways are restored and will need enough non-perishable food, water, and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of 3 days and up to a week or more.

Thursday, May 19 Strengthen Your Home
Make sure your home is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications. Whether you stay or evacuate, be sure to utilize flood-proofing measures such as using water sealer in basements, sandbagging, elevating utilities, and moving furniture to the second floor. Click here for more information on strengthening your home against strong winds.

Friday, May 20 Notification Sources
NOAA's National Hurricane Center is your official source for hurricane watches and warnings. Your local NOAA National Weather Service forecast office provides information regarding the expected impacts from the storm for your area. Emergency managers will make the decisions regarding evacuations. 

For more information about tornadoes, visit our ePrepare site and NOAA website .

Also, please visit FLO’s Crisis Management's Personal Preparedness website to download your Personal Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Guide.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

FSYF Summer Film Making Challenge

The Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) is looking for Washington, D.C. area Foreign Service youth in grades 7 to 12 (individuals or teams with at least one member belonging to FSYF) to make an 8 to 12 minute narrated video highlighting its schools, shopping, dining, transportation, and community life in their city or county. The video should orient and assist Foreign Service youth returning to the area after living abroad. The application deadline is June 27, 2016 and the videos must be submitted by September 5, 2016. 

Visit FSYF’s website for more information and to apply.