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, May 31, 2017

FSI/TC Young Diplomats Overseas Preparation

If yo
u are in the DC area, the Transition Center at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI/TC) is offering a FREE 2-day Summer Youth Program for children of all foreign affairs agencies in grades 2-12. The program is an interactive exploration into the world of diplomacy, the realities of living overseas as an American, and safety and security threats overseas. Children are divided by age and all information is shared using age-appropriate activities. A parent or guardian is required to be on campus (consider registering for MQ911 Security Overseas Seminar which runs concurrently with the Youth Program).

For more information, visit the Young Diplomats Overseas Preparation webpage. Email FSITCTraining@state.gov with questions.

Remaining 2017 Dates (click on dates below to register)
August 7-8

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Unaccompanied Tours Decision Tree

As you are preparing for or thinking about bidding on an Unaccompanied Tour (UT) post, check out FLO’s Decision Tree. It is a guide to help you decide where your family will live while you are serving on an unaccompanied tour.

Email FLOAskUT@state.gov with questions and visit www.state.gov/flo/ut for information on all of FLO’s UT support services. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Leaving Post in 2017? You May Be Eligible to Apply for the FSFRC

During the hiring freeze, family members can apply to join the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC) if they meet all of the below criteria. Those eligible should apply now and not wait until closer to their departure date.

Family Members Working Overseas
  • Currently employed at post under a Family Member Appointment (FMA) or Temporary (TEMP) appointment and will be departing from the current position between now and December 31, 2017.
  • Employed on an FMA or TEMP appointment with a sponsoring employee who has an upcoming Transfer Eligibility Date (TED) between now and December 31, 2017.
  • Currently in Intermittent No Work Scheduled (INWS) status at the time of application, with a Not to Exceed (NTE) date between now and December 31, 2017.
Family Members Working in the Civil Service

  • Due to the hiring freeze currently in effect at the Department of State, family members who are working in Civil Service positions who will be accompanying their sponsoring employees abroad may not join the FSFRC at this time. Going from the Civil Service to the FSFRC would require a hiring action which is not possible at this time. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Summer 2017 Distance Language Courses

Summer 2017 Distance Language Courses

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI)'s Summer 2017 semester of online distance language learning courses are starting on or around May 15, 2017. FSI’s School of Language Studies offers 65 courses in 17 different languages. Enroll now as courses fill up quickly and the late enrollment deadline is approaching (May 26).

Enrollment is free to direct-hire Department of State employees and their family members on a space available basis. Other agency personnel and their family members may enroll through their DC office on a reimbursable basis with a fully funded SF-182 to be sent to FSIRegistrar@state.gov. Employees can enroll via their Career Development Officer (CDO) or on the FSI Registrar’s Course Catalog on OpenNet. Family members can enroll via their sponsor’s CDO.

Email OnlineLanguage@state.gov for more information. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Great Resource for separated families

Never Miss A Moment With Caribu

Caribu lets you video call and read no matter where you are, so you never miss another story time.   This beautiful app is designed for children.

Get it free on your iPad or iPhone.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Time is Choice

Posted by Beth Payne, Center of Excellence in Foreign Affairs Resilience in her Resilience blog and re-posted here.

Almost every time I give a presentation on resilience, someone mentions that a major barrier to   engaging in activities that foster resilience is that they do not have the time. For example, people know that enjoying a hobby or socializing with colleagues will benefit them, but they struggle to find the time. We know we should exercise regularly but the day goes by and there never seems to be enough time. We start the day planning to go to bed at 10PM to get 8 hours of sleep and before we know it, it is midnight. How many of us feel like we’ve lost control of our time and therefore aren’t engaging in activities that improve our resilience and therefore our effectiveness and productivity?
If you struggle to control your time, you might find Laura Vanderkam’s TED talk useful. Instead of giving tips on how to “find extra hours in the day” or searching for ways to “save bits of time,” she advocates first building the lives we want and then managing time around these lives. She explains that time is a choice. We can’t make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we chose to put into it. The key to time management is to focus on our priorities. Instead of saying I don’t have time to do X, Y, or Z it is better to say I won’t do X, Y, or Z because they are not a priority.

She recommends that on Friday afternoon, make a list with the following three categories: work, relationships and self. Identify two/three items for each category. Then look over the next few weeks and plan these items in your calendar. She recommends looking at the whole of your time and looking for where the good stuff can go. She concludes that when we focus on what matters, we can build the lives we want with the time we’ve got.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New FSI Webinar: Financial Planning/TSP and FSPS Annuity Benefits

This condensed retirement planning seminar is designed as an alternative for overseas employees who are unable to attend the two-day Early/Mid-Career Retirement Planning seminar (RV105) or the four-day Retirement Planning seminar (RV101) at FSI.

Financial Planning/TSP and FSPS Annuity Benefits (RV106) provides critical information on financial planning, TSP options, investing, estate planning, and the Foreign Service Pension System (FSPS) annuity program, including health benefits, which any Foreign Service employee at any stage in their career will find beneficial to their retirement planning. The Financial Planning/TSP segment is a three-hour seminar delivered live via Adobe Connect during Washington, DC business hours. The FSPS Annuity Benefits segment is a two-hour recorded presentation designed to be viewed before the Financial Planning/TSP segment via the Learn Center.

Upcoming 2017 Course Dates: June 28 and September 21

Visit the course website for details on how to register and for information on eligibility. Email questions to FSICTC@state.gov.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Consular Opportunities for EFMs Webinar Now Online

The Family Liaison Office (FLO) recently hosted a webinar with representatives from Consular Affairs, the Foreign Service Institute, and Human Resources. The webinar covers the Consular Affairs Appointment Eligible Family Member (CA-AEFM) and Consular Fellows programs. Both programs recruit and train candidates to work as Vice Consuls overseas. Applications are currently being accepted for both programs. You will also learn about Consular Assistant and Consular Associate positions at posts and FSI consular training opportunities. Watch it online today

Monday, May 1, 2017

WorkLife4You resource

5 Tips to Feel Good as a Parent - Log into WorkLife4You for more resources on parenting

Feel Good Parent
With all of the debate about work/family balance lately, it's hard not to wonder whether your personal solution is the "best" one. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution to parenting, and there are many paths to feeling successful as moms and dads.

That being said, there's one clear route to feeling lousy about your parenting: adopting someone else's definition of success. Parenting is personal, and a plan that works beautifully for your neighbor or colleague might leave you feeling sad, depressed or inadequate.

While there are many ways to be a good parent, it all starts with creating an atmosphere that feels right to you. Here are five things to try to make you feel good about the job you're doing as a parent:

1) Focus on Your Role of the Moment -- Parenting takes plenty of multitasking as it is, so it helps to just focus on one task at a time. When you need to be focused on work, do so, but when you don't need to check email or browse your phone, stop and focus on the kids. Undivided attention, even in smaller quantities, feels so much better than giving them short shrift.

2) Create Memories Through Rituals -- A tradition of eating dinner together at night, even if you don't accomplish this goal every single night, can give you an opportunity to talk, create bonds, and cherish the time you spend together.

3) Laugh -- Break into song or dance, tell jokes, make light of serious situations, and soon everyone feels a little bit better. Even if it doesn't come naturally to you, it always makes for a mood lightener.

4) Give Your Kids a Little Space -- You want to keep your kids close and safe, but there is something so refreshing about watching them spread their wings. Case in point: When we moved to San Diego, I decided it was time to let my 10- and 8-year-old kids walk up to the bagel shop on their own. I was holding my breath the entire eight minutes they were gone, but loved seeing their sense of accomplishment when they returned.

5) Show Unconditional Love -- Make sure your kids know that you always have their backs. When they're discussing what's important to them and they feel supported, they'll beam from feeling love and there's no better feeling than that.

Source: Learning Care Group, www.learningcaregroup.com

WorkLife4You (formerly known as Information Quest) is a resource and referral service contracted by the Department of State for employees and their family members.  You can go through WorkLife4You and get a free initial legal consultation to have a simple will prepared.  You may also use the “legal documents’ section on the website, to download legal forms such as Wills, POA, Living Wills, etc.  Help is available in many areas including settling into your home, medical referrals, counseling, school information, legal consultations and more.  E-mail Specialist@LifeCare.com  or if you want to schedule a free legal consultation please call 1-866-552-IQ4U (4748) or TTY/TDD 800-873-1322.