Page 16 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / A P R I L 2 0 1 2
for the two-month FAST course. In
this way, EFMs could enjoy sustained
contact with the language while still
having enough time to work part-time
or see to family responsibilities.
For that matter, if there is a seat
available at FSI and an eager USAID
spouse or partner wishes to fill it, why
charge USAID at all? Is it really better
to leave it empty?
Catching Up
USAID should be commended for
its general support of Foreign Service
families. The current USAID EFM
language training policy is well-inten-
tioned and reflects a step in the right
direction. The policy ensures that fam-
ily members can develop the basic lan-
guage skills needed to engage socially
with host communities abroad.
Still, the policy does not help pre-
pare them to succeed professionally at
post. Also, when compared to how
State supports its EFMs with language
training, USAID’s budget appears to
leave us a step behind.
But USAID can catch up
and
AFSA is already helping. Late last
year, AFSA included EFM language
training in a package of parity issues it
presented to USAID. While it has not
yet announced any decisions on these
issues, the agency is reviewing its op-
tions. To help spur discussion, here are
three ways forward for USAID and
others to consider.
1. State, USAID, AFSA and others
could work together to rewrite
13 FAM 110 to expand FSI’s mandate
to all appropriate Foreign Service per-
sonnel and their Eligible Family Mem-
bers. State should then ensure FSI
receives the necessary resources to im-
plement the new policy.
2. USAID could give EFMs the op-
tion to matriculate in basic language
courses at FSI, rather than only be el-
igible for FAST courses.
3. USAID could give EFMs the op-
tion for long-term, part-time training
at a local private language school at a
cost equivalent to that of a FAST
course.
Brendan M. Wheeler, a USAID FSO
since 2008, is currently in language
training in advance of his assignment
in Dakar. He previously served in Ad-
dis Ababa.
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P E A K I N G
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