In the foreign service community, the "summer cycle" means LOTS of change. Most foreign service assignments are for 2-3 years, and since families with children try to schedule their moves around the school year, summer is a popular time for packouts, long plane flights, job changes, and general chaos.
Our family is contributing to the summer chaos with our move to Manila at the end of this month. Since this is our first move overseas, my personal chaos has a lot to do with facing the unknown, yet I predict that these feelings will become familiar with every passing summer cycle.
My time here in DC--I'll call it A-100 even though it lasted five months--has been a gift. I have developed wonderful friendships with wonderful people, had the opportunity to explore a great city, and had time to rediscover strengths I had set aside for my social work career. Not having to work a full time job has given me time to think about what I really want to do--not just what I have to do. And even though I am looking forward to making new friends and exploring the Philippines, I am sorry to leave the home we have created in DC.
Yet I have to remind myself that the foreign service life wouldn't be the foreign service life if we were not on the move so much. The wonderful group of people I've met here wouldn't be themselves if they didn't all share the quality of wanting to travel the world. If the hardest part about the lifestyle is having to separate from people and places you love, the best part is sharing your life with interesting, adventurous people.
If I could explore the world but guarantee a class reunion every year or so I'd be happy. But I'll have to settle for believing that the world truly does become smaller once you start moving around in it, and that I will see these wonderful people again. And to the 151st A-100 class, please stay in touch!