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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
JANUARY 2013
21
FOREIGN SERVICE
TRANSFER TIPS
FOCUS
EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION
D
uring my relatively brief (1985-1997) Foreign
Service career, I changed posts just three
times: fromWashington, D.C., to Mexico City,
then on to Wellington, and back to Washing-
ton. (I went on lots of ofcial trips after that, a
few of which turned into epic misadventures,
but that’s a story for another time.)
Happily, all three ofcial transfers went smoothly. My
household efects pallet never got dropped into the Pacifc, or
any other bodies of water. And all my belongings were picked
up and delivered intact, including back in the States (which can
sometimes be the trickiest part).
If anything, my movers in Mexico City were
too
thorough:
they packed up all my garbage, unbeknownst to me. Fortunately,
that inadvertent souvenir was free of organic material, so I didn’t
have any nasty surprises on arriving Down Under.
Now, I should acknowledge that as a single ofcer with
relatively few possessions, I was spared from dealing with a lot of
the complications that many of my colleagues had to manage. I
also never had to transfer between two remote posts where even
basic services are unreliable. On the other hand, I can truthfully
say that I did my compulsive-obsessive best to facilitate the pro-
cess, spending lots of time labeling boxes and compiling records
(some of which I probably still have somewhere in storage!).
Over the years, the
FSJ
has published several FS Know-How
columns recounting an alarming variety of transfer mishaps. A
common thread running through the advice these contributors
have ofered is the fact that while help is available, it’s really up
to each employee to seek it and follow up if it isn’t forthcoming.
As far as I know, this issue marks the frst time the
Journal
has
focused on these challenges in a systematic way. We ofer this
coverage now, well ahead of transfer season, in hopes of enhanc-
ing the odds that you, your family and your belongings will all
get to their next destination without incident.
Mette Beecroft has handled transfer issues for more than
four decades now from just about every conceivable angle. She’s
moved all over the world with her family; worked for the Trans-
portation Division, Family Liaison Ofce and other parts of State;
and informally advised the Foreign Service community as a
leader in Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide.
In “Foreign Service Transfer Realities” (p. 24), she shares lots of
practical tips for making the process as painless as possible.
Moving with pets (or animal companions, if you prefer) can
be a particular challenge. When U.S. airlines suddenly raised
rates on transferring pets last year, AFSA led a campaign to
restore the discounts previously granted members of the Foreign
Service and the military. But cost is just one factor. As Heather
Pishko explains in “Single, With Pets” (p. 28), with careful prepa-
ration the experience can go smoothly for everyone concerned.
(Just don’t expect the four-legged members of the household to
pitch in!)
One fnal note: Be sure to consult the AFSA Guidance for
Foreign Service Employees and the Pet Issues and Pet Travel
Guidance pages of AFSA’s Web site.
n
Steven Alan Honley was a Foreign Service ofcer from 1985 to 1997,
serving in Mexico City, Wellington and Washington, D.C. He has been
editor of the
Foreign Service Journal
since 2001.
Illustrations by Josh Dorman.
We hope our coverage will help your next move go more smoothly.
BY STEVEN ALAN HONL EY