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, April 26, 2017

Foggy What?!

The name “Foggy Bottom” arose from the fact that the area where the Department of the State is located is at the bottom of the Potomac waterfront (i.e, marshy banks + river water = prone to fog). Back in the day, this environment, combined with the poor air circulation made the area prone to fog. The Potomac’s shoreline was defined by the escarpment, or steep hills, which trapped air in this low-lying area – Washingtonians still experience this on hot, summer nights. Just ask us about the humidity!

Foggy Bottom got its name before the Department of State headquarters called it home in 1941, after initial construction on the building began in 1939. 

Some facts:
· Other aliases: HST or Harry S. Truman Building, Main State, Foggy Bottom.
· There is over 1.5 million square feet of usable space.
· Over 4,000 windows surround the building.

Craving more historical info? Check out the Department of State’s Office of the Historian’s website to learn about the historical documentary record of U.S. foreign policy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Humor for the Health of It Webinar Link
The Family Liaison Office’s (FLO) Unaccompanied Tours (UT) team and MHN (a Health Net company)    hosted the webinar, Humor for the Health of It.                      

The webinar addressed how humor is an essential part of life, keeps us healthy and positive, and helps us handle life’s setbacks. It also described the emotional and physical benefits of humor and explored ways to cultivate humor in everyday life and in the workplace. If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recorded version. Request the participant workbook by emailing FLOAskUT@state.gov

Webinar Link: https://goo.gl/rI0CnR

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Reminder! FLO Global Webinar: Overseas Consular Opportunities for EFMs on April 19

Join FLO, HR, CA, and FSI Consular Training Division for a webinar on the Consular Affairs - Appointment Eligible Family Member (CA-AEFM) and Consular Fellows programs. Presenters will provide an overview of both programs and will also include information about Consular Assistant and Consular Associates positions at post and FSI training opportunities such as ConGen. The webinar will be recorded.

Both programs recruit and train candidates to work as Vice Consuls overseas. The next LNA (Limited Non-Career Appointments/CA-AEFM and Consular Fellows programs) orientation classes are pending funding and authorization. Family members are welcome to apply to these programs now because the process can take several months.

Visit the Department of State’s career website for information and application procedures about the Consular Fellows program and FLO’s website for information on the CA-AEFM program.

When:             April 19, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. ET
RSVP:              FLOGlobalWebinars@state.gov

Participate by logging in as a "guest" at deptofstatehr.adobeconnect.com/flo/. Please use your first name (only) followed by your post. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Five C’s for Safer Travel

Research your destination by starting with the five C’s: country, city, culture, climate, and crime.

Whether relocating or jet-setting the globe, expats and tourists should focus on risk mitigation to avoid disasters and manage emergencies. Most crises can be avoided, but some incidents are simply a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the past year alone, we have seen many extreme examples of this which include floods, earthquakes and terrorist attacks. Also, there are the everyday issues to be aware of including, illnesses, accidents and stolen property, all of which can be more stressful in a foreign country. Therefore, it is important to be cognizant of the entire spectrum of risks. Travelers should learn risk mitigation techniques so they can avoid, manage, and respond accordingly. When researching your destination, it is helpful to identify obstacles before you go. With this in mind we look at the five C’s to make your experience both safe and extraordinary. Preparation can make all the difference, while unorganized and poorly planned travel can lead to disaster.

Country- Research local issues and laws, and check for instability that can lead to civil disorder and protest. These issues may arise from unemployment, poverty, politics or immigration. In addition, make sure you have emergency phone numbers for the country.

City- Research the accommodation’s safety features which, under ideal circumstances, may include 24/7 security officers and CCTV placement. Research the neighborhood crime trends. Also look at the location’s convenience and safety of transportation. For example, what are the roadway standards, and are taxis safe to hail from the street or is it better to reserve with a transportation company?

Cultural– One of the greatest safety tips when traveling in a foreign country is to blend in with the local population. This is usually accomplished by understanding some of the cultural nuances and customs. It is always recommended to learn and use some basic host country language.

Climate- There are many different weather patterns around the world with unique localized conditions that can quickly turn disastrous. For example, in the United States we have areas that are prone to tornadoes, floods, heat waves or hurricanes. Be ready for local weather trends and new weather patterns. Follow an emergency plan for each type of environmental hazard. This will not only keep you safe, it could save your life.

Crime- Understand local scams and crime trends. One of the most common techniques used in tourist spots around the world is “distraction crime.” Be alert to anyone trying to distract your attention. Blend in with the local population, avoid looking like a tourist and leave your USA t-shirts at home.
After assessing the risks, create a contingency plan for your travel. It is important to be flexible yet prepared which includes purchasing traveler’s insurance which can prevent an emergency from becoming a disaster.

By Carrie Pasquarello of Global Secure Resources Inc.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Remaining resilient in the face of uncertainty
Posted by Beth Payne , Center of Excellence in Foreign Affairs Resilience
in her Resilience blog and re-posted here

These are uncertain times for foreign affairs professionals. Much of our foreign policy is unclear or changing dramatically. There is a hiring freeze across the federal government impacting family member employment and making it harder to get the job done in understaffed offices and overseas posts. We face potentially severe budget cuts. The more resilient we are, the easier it is to be flexible and adaptable in times of uncertainty and stress. We are more likely to collaborate with others to find innovative solutions to the problems uncertainty brings to the workplace. This is why it is critically important to focus on building or maintaining high resilience during these uncertain times. Here are some tips on how you can enhance your resilience during this challenging period.

  Take care of yourself: Prioritize taking care of yourself and carve out time on your calendar for recovery, whether it’s taking a 10 minute walk every afternoon, joining friends for lunch, or cooking yourself a healthy meal after work. Resist the temptation to just work longer and harder since this will actually reduce productivity in the long run. Minimize alcohol and ensure you get 7-8 hours of sleep.
  Focus on what you can control: Identify what you can control, influence, and not control. Use active problem solving to take more control over important issues. For example, if you feel like you cannot control your work load, practice saying no and setting boundaries to give yourself more control. Develop strategies to influence issues that are important to you and try to stop thinking about concerns outside of your control.
 Maintain meaning and purpose: Remind yourself why you work in foreign affairs and explore what you need to stay passionate and committed to the work you do. Look for meaning and purpose outside of work through volunteerism, hobbies, family, and spirituality. Explore your alternatives if you no longer find meaning and purpose at work.
  Practice reframing: Look for the positive aspects of challenges you face. If your budget is cut, what are the potential positive outcomes? If you have fewer staff, how can you turn this challenge into an opportunity?
  Seek social support: One of the most important ways we enhance our resilience is to spend time with other people. Invite colleagues to lunch and commit to spending more time with family and friends.
  Laugh: Watch more funny movies and television shows, listen to funny podcasts, spend more time with friends and colleagues who make you laugh.