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RQ: What Do FSOs Do When Not At Work?

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This week’s reader question concerns social life overseas.  It asks,

What do Foreign Service Officers/Specialists do when they’re not working?  How is the social scene?  Do FSOs tend to clump or do they “go local”?

The answer, of course, is all of the above.  Obviously it depends a great deal on where one is posted.  Those serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan (AIP) will not be going off the compound very much.  Each post has its own unique social culture.  Even in places I wouldn’t consider very dangerous, sometimes the current work force just isn’t interested in going out much.  Other times the embassy community is very tight knit and very supportive of one another (there’s something about being trapped together in Lagos that really brings a group of Americans together…).

Every post (that I’m aware of) has a person serving as the Community Liaison Officer, commonly referred to as the CLO (pronounced “kloh”).  The CLO is responsible for organizing events for embassy staff and their family members.  Quiz nights, dinners, group tours of historic sites, shopping trips, barbecues, are all arranged by or with great assistance from the CLO.  Some CLO offices also have collections of books or DVDs for loan, and contain lots of helpful information on local sources of entertainment.

The CLO is an important factor in keeping morale high.  In my opinion, holing up in your government housing is a good way to go crazy during your tour.  Participating in the embassy community, while not only one of the Foreign Service dimensions, is a good way to network both for yourself and your family.

Be sure to check out past Reader Questions in the Archives.


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