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 websites and information, upcoming webinars, programs and events. FLO does not endorse organizations or companies linked-to in this blog, the views they express, or the products/services they offer. Let us know what you think: contribute to the blog or email us at FLOAskUT@state.gov.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Monday, November 6, 2017
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 NOW and Summer 2018 Eligible Family Member (EFM) job opportunities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan (Islamabad and Karachi) – Priority Staffing Posts (PSP).
Questions? Email Honeylee Temblador, TembladorHY@state.gov or Karen Foulks, FoulksKR1@State. If interested, apply before November 13, 2017. After this date, all unfilled positions will be re-advertised on a rolling basis until filled.
Monday, October 30, 2017
FLO Website Feature: Member of Household Guidance
Visit the Family Liaison Office (FLO) website for guidance for Members of Household (family members not on employee's official travel orders). Find information on the specific definition of those eligible for MOH status, host country authority, work permits, education, travel expenses, housing, access to embassy services, evacuations, and more. Email FLOAskSupportServices@state.gov with your questions.
Monday, October 23, 2017
Thursday, October 19, 2017
October is Work Life Wellness Month
Foreign Service life presents challenges, and the FS career can be particularly difficult when it comes to juggling personal and family wellness and work and life demands. The Work Life Wellness initiative, jointly run by the Bureaus of Medical Services and Human Resources at the Department of State, aims to help employee juggle demands while improving preventive health practices. Below are some resources to get you started.
- MED Wellness Facebook Group—Closed group for current employees and family members with health and wellness tips and articles. Family members will need to provide their spouses state.gov email address.
- Health.gov—The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion works to improve the health of all Americans. Find information on dietary and physical activity guidelines and other prevention and wellness information.
- ChooseMyPlate.gov—From the U.S. Department of Agriculture, MyPlate helps you to find your healthy eating style and build it throughout your lifetime.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
GEI Program Expands Outreach to Family Members
As positions for family members within the mission remain limited, FLO kicked off a season of expanded outreach through the Global Employment Initiative (GEI) program. Since May 2017, Regional Global Employment Advisors (GEAs) visited 40 posts, delivering a variety of workshops and one-on-one consultations to discuss alternate employment options with family members, while also encouraging them to remain prepared for employment inside the mission as positions become available. In addition, GEAs increased the number of articles submitted to post newsletters, and participated in Welcome to Post webinars to virtually introduce themselves and their services.
Photo: GEAs and FLO Staff at 2017 GEA Workshop
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Unaccompanied Tours Support: Before, During, and After
FLO’s Unaccompanied Tours (UT) team supports employees, their families (including parents, grandparents, etc.) affected by a UT. Whether you are thinking about, going to, or currently on a UT, FLO has resources for you. Email FLOAskUT@state.gov with your questions.
Contact Information Form—FLO does not receive a list of employees and family members experiencing a UT. Request a contact form (FLOAskUT@state.gov) so that we can provide you with resources during your UT.
Decision Tree—Where will your family live during a UT? Use this guide to help you decide.
Counseling Resources—Information on Deployment Stress Management Program (DSMP), the Employee Consultation Service, USAID Staff Care, and more.
Children’s Workbooks—Age appropriate workbooks to help your children understand separation.Children’s Certificates and Medals of Appreciation— Recognize the sacrifice that your child(ren) makes while you are serving on a UT by nominating him/her for a certificate and medal.
Monday, September 25, 2017
FLO Website Feature: Adult Education Programs
Monday, September 18, 2017
Sheryl Sandberg: How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss
Posted by Beth Payne in her Fostering Resilience blog
Director, Center of Excellence in Foreign Affairs Resilience (CEFAR)
Contact FSI for more information at FSIRegistrar@state.gov.
Re-posted in Foggy Bottom Rambles
Here are some of the things she learned. Read her New York Times article or her book Option B if you want to read more.
- Show your children that they matter. Sociologists define “mattering” as the belief that other people notice you, care about you, and rely on you. It’s the answer to a vital question that all children ask about their place in the world starting as toddlers, and continuing into and beyond adolescence: Do I make a difference to others?
- Walk alongside your children and listen. When parents cannot fix a child’s problems, it can be frustrating and parents often feel helpless. In these cases, remember the value of being a trusted companion who will listen, share in your children’s feelings, and remind them they are not alone. Just being there will often do more for a child’s resilience than solving the immediate problem.
- Keep memories alive. Talking openly about memories — not just positive ones, but difficult ones, too — can help kids make sense of their past and rise to future challenges. It’s especially powerful to share stories about how the family sticks together through good times and bad, which allows kids to feel that they are connected to something larger than themselves.
- Practice gratitude. At the end of each day, talk about what happened that day for which each of you is grateful and remind yourselves that even after loss, there is still so much to appreciate in life.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Bidders on PSP assignments - please remember that there is a special ISMA-plus-Education benefit per DSSR 262.5 available to EFMs who are officially approved for an alternate foreign ISMA location. See DSSR 262.5 below:
262.5 Education Allowance for Involuntary SMA Location
When SMA is granted for the Government's convenience (ISMA), and a foreign area is authorized as an official ISMA location, an employee can be authorized an education allowance within the applicable "school-at-post" education allowance rate for the officially authorized foreign ISMA location on behalf of a child authorized to reside at that ISMA location, unless the child has arrived at a selected educational institution under educational travel authority within the last 12 months (see 282). (Eff. 5/23/2010 TL:SR-734).
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
It's Hurricane Season. Are You Prepared?
We can all take action to prepare! Check out www.ready.gov/September and garner tips and ideas for kids games, tool kits and more.
Having a Personal Preparedness Plan will help you and your family to be ready to leave post at a moment’s notice. FLO will be there for you, before, during, and after a sudden departure from post, providing guidance and support along the way.
Take a look at:
72 Hour Emergency Kit—A duffle bag or backpack that you can grab in an instant with supplies to last 72 hours.
Go-Bag—Ready to grab during an evacuation.
Pets and International Travel—New airline rules impact shipment of pets from post to post!
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
FLO Website Feature: UT Resources
FLO’s Unaccompanied Tours (UT) team provides a number of services and resources for employees and families preparing for, serving in, or returning from an assignment to an unaccompanied post. You will find information on the children’s certificate and medal of recognition program, a link to the Foggy Bottom Rambles blog, age-appropriate workbooks for children, and more. You can also download the Decision Tree, a guide to help you decide where your family should live during a UT. Visit FLO’s UT webpage today. Email Questions to FLOAskUT@state.gov.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
USAJOBS.gov - Using Search Filters for NCE
If you have earned Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) while working overseas, you can use filters on USAJOBS.gov to find vacancies that are NCE eligible. Although the hiring freeze is still in effect for the Department of State, other federal agencies are hiring. In the "Who May Apply" section of the job announcement, look for positions open to “Former Overseas Employees.” Also, try these key words that may generate additional vacant positions: non-competitive eligible, special hiring authorities, Peace Corps, military spouses, EO 12721, and CFR 315.608.
Monday, August 28, 2017
Virginia schools are starting soon! Follow your VA school district on Facebook for more information on cancellations, days off, and more:
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Monday, August 14, 2017
How to talk to children about difficult news
Posted by Beth Payne on Monday, August 14th 2017 in the Fostering Resilience blog
Re-posted in the Foggy Bottom Rambles
For more information on resilience contact FSICTC@state.gov or (703) 302-7407
With terror attacks constantly in the news, wars seeming to spread, and the number of refugees increasing, the world can appear to be a perilous place, especially for children. Children may also be impacted by events closer to home, whether it’s an incident at their school, crime in their city, or the death of a friend or family member.
The American Psychological Association provides some excellent advice on how to talk to kids about what is happening in the news or in their community. The conversation may not be easy, but taking a proactive stance and discussing difficult events in age-appropriate language can help a child feel safer and more secure. As much as adults may try to avoid difficult topics, children know when something sad or scary happens. If adults don’t talk to them about it, children may overestimate what is wrong or misunderstand adults’ silence. So, be the first to bring up the difficult topic. When parents tackle difficult conversations, they let their children know that they are available and supportive.
Here are some tips for talking to children about difficult news:
Think about what you want to say: It’s OK to practice in your head, to a mirror, or with another adult. Some advanced planning may make the discussion easier. You won’t have to think about it off the top of your head.
Find a quiet moment: Perhaps this is after dinner or while making the next day’s lunch. Find a time and place where your child can be the center of your attention.
Find out what they know: For example, there was a shooting at a school or a bomb set off in another country. Ask them “What have you heard about this?” And then listen. Listen. Listen. And listen more.
Share your feelings with your child: It is OK to acknowledge your feelings with your children. They see you are human. They also get a chance to see that even though upset, you can pull yourself together and continue on. Parents hear it often: Be a role model. This applies to emotions, too.
Tell the truth: Lay out the facts at a level they can understand. You do not need to give graphic details.
Help young children understand: For example, you may need to have the conversation about what death means (no longer feel anything, not hungry, thirsty, scared, or hurting; we will never see them again, but can hold their memories in our hearts and heads).
Say, I don’t know: Sometimes the answer to a question is “I don’t know” and that’s OK. For example, if asked “why did the bad people do this,” “I don’t know” fits.
Above all, reassure: At the end of the conversation, reassure your children that you will do everything you know how to do to keep them safe and to watch out for them. Reassure them that you will be available to answer any questions or talk about this topic again in the future. Reassure them that they are loved. Also explain that the U.S. government is working diligently to protect them and, if you are overseas, exTalking about and experiencing difficult news and tragedies can be exhausting. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and boost your own personal resilience.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Scams and Crime
It is easy to become a victim if you don’t know what scams to avoid.
Some people work in professions devoted to helping people, while some work with the sole purpose of taking advantage of others. It may be hard to believe someone would devote time and resources to con and rob tourists, however due to the influx of global tourism, it is becoming more and more common for criminals to exploit unprepared travelers. These criminals are professionals, working full time in the booming travel scam industry. Although there are countless travel scams, I will focus on the top five.
Distraction Crime: The favorite tool for a criminal is distraction, often used with more than one criminal. If they can distract you and get your wallet, passport, camera or luggage, they can make some easy money. One commonly used scam is “something on your shirt” a bird poop or food, then a nice person appears to help you. They are nice and friendly. Meanwhile their accomplice is robbing you of your valuables. Most often you will not be aware that you have been robbed until you reach for your wallet for your next purchase. How to Avoid This Scam: Understand if something is on your clothing and someone is trying to help, you have been targeted. They will be coming in for their payday. Don’t allow the person to help. Make sure you keep possession of your backpack and luggage. Always keep your money and passport in a money belt under your clothes.
Wrong change back: When paying you will have to be on top of calculating your purchase. Shop keepers, street venders and restaurant employees have been known to give less change back. This is easy money. Their perception, especially of Americans, is that you must be so rich you don’t need to count your money, so you will not be paying attention to the amount returned.
How to Avoid This Scam: Before traveling learn about the currency and the exchange rates in the country you will be visiting and always count your change. When paying always say in a loud voice the denomination of money as you give it out. Sometimes the vendor will claim you didn’t give them the right amount of money or return the wrong difference.
Can you take my picture? Criminal organizations usually operate with multiple members and target tourists with luggage that is in demand. They will stop you and ask if you can take their picture and once you set down your luggage their accomplice will be moving in to take your belongings. It will only be after the pictures have been taken that you will realize your luggage has gone missing.
How to Avoid This Scam: If someone asks you to take a picture and you have luggage say no. Don’t feel bad, they can ask someone else to be their victim.
Free bracelet: A friendly person will engage you in conversation and generously offer to give you a free friendship bracelet. They will place the bracelet on your wrist and tie a knot, which can’t be undone Once it is on your wrist they will demand money. If you refuse, they will cause a scene.
How to Avoid This Scam: There is no such thing as a free gift, especially when it involves a tourist. Do not accept any gifts from strangers and don”t let anyone tie anything to your wrist or place anything on your body. You will find this scam in areas most commonly frequented by tourists.
Beggar Gangs: Organized criminals will use children, blind, deaf and pregnant women to collect money. Most often the money collected is taken by the criminals and the beggar is payed a small fee.
How to Avoid This Scam: Don’t give money to strangers. It is impossible to distinguish between those truly in need and criminal gangs operating as beggars.
Understanding local scams and crime trends before traveling can help tourists from being victimized. The more you know, the less likely you will fall victim to a scam. Criminals are always on the hunt for an easy target. Stay safe, stay alert and you will have a much more enjoyable travel experience.
To learn more on how to travel safe email
Monday, July 31, 2017
FLO Global Webinar on August 16: Building Stress Resilience for Kids
Join the Family Liaison Office (FLO) and the Bureau of Medical Services (MED) Child and Family Program for the webinar, Building Stress Resilience for Kids. Get tips on building your child’s resilience in the face of stress, ask questions, and learn more about MED’s role in supporting families overseas. Also learn about the nature of stress, how it affects children, and healthy ways to manage stress.
When: August 16, 2017 at 10:00am ET
Participate: Go to deptofstatehr.adobeconnect.com/resilience. Enter as a guest and type your first name (for privacy reasons do not include your last name) and your current or future post.Workbook: Request a copy of the e-workbook in advance; we will refer to it throughout the session. Email FLOAskUT@state.gov.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
How to Improve Resilience in Midlife
By TARA PARKER-POPEJULY 25, 2017 in the New York Times
|Photo by Sarah Williamson|
Much of the scientific research on resilience — our ability to bounce back from adversity — has focused on how to build resilience in children. But what about the grown-ups?
While resilience is an essential skill for healthy childhood development, science shows that adults also can take steps to boost resilience in middle age, which is often the time we need it most. Midlife can bring all kinds of stressors, including divorce, the death of a parent, career setbacks and retirement worries, yet many of us don’t build the coping skills we need to meet these challenges.
The good news is that some of the qualities of middle age — a better ability to regulate emotions, perspective gained from life experiences and concern for future generations — may give older people an advantage over the young when it comes to developing resilience, said Adam Grant, a management and psychology professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
“There is a naturally learnable set of behaviors that contribute to resilience,” said Dr. Grant, who, with Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, wrote the book “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.” “Those are the behaviors that we gravitate to more and more as we age.”
Scientists who study stress and resilience say it’s important to think of resilience as an emotional muscle that can be strengthened at any time. While it’s useful to build up resilience before a big or small crisis hits, there still are active steps you can take during and after a crisis to speed your emotional recovery.
To read full article, click here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/well/mind/how-to-boost-resilience-in-midlife.html
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Virtual Work Opportunities: Portable Career Employment Options Webinar (MQ708)
Hosted by the Transition Center at the Foreign Service Institute, this tuition-based webinar is designed to help family members consider virtual employment as a portable career option. The course will cover trends in telework, an overview of key considerations when choosing virtual work options, and where to look for telework opportunities.
Who May Attend: Open to all Foreign Affairs adult Eligible Family Members (EFMs)
When: August 10, 2017 from 8:00 am- 9:15am ET and again from 4:00pm - 5:15pm ET
How to Register: State Department EFMs register through the employee’s CDO/Training Officer or on OpenNet. All other EFMs must submit an SF-182
Questions: Email questions to FSITCTraining@state.gov