Page 35 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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A P R I L 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
35
F
OCUS ON
FS F
AMI LY
M
EMBER
E
MPLOYMENT
M
Y
S
O
-C
ALLED
C
AREER
s newlyweds, my hus-
band and I had a plan. He would finish his Ph.D. and be-
come a Russian professor, and I would work in college
administration and sing professionally. But it was the
1980s, and academic jobs were few and far between. Plan
B was this little thing called the Foreign Service exam that
he figured he might as well take. You can guess the rest.
When the packet arrived, he started jumping up and
down in the lobby of our Columbia University apartment
building. He finally had a real job with a future, and we
were actually going to be paid to learn languages and travel
the world.
I was excited, too, because singing seemed about as
portable a career as could be—all I had to do was take my
voice with me. I quit my job at the Manhattan School of
Music and followed him to Washington, D.C. At first it
was good not to work for a while, and just attend A-100
classes, meet other new spouses and walk along the canal
towpath with my dog, wondering what adventures we
would have.
Then I got pregnant. And we moved — a lot. Five
years later, we had moved no fewer than seven times and
had two toddlers in tow. Within another three years, we
had moved four more times and added two more kids.
Singing career? What singing career?
Somehow, little by little, I figured out a way to squeeze
professional activities into my life, both overseas and on
our stateside postings. Those professional activities often
started as one thing and led to another. Now, 28 years have
passed since we began our Foreign Service lifestyle. Over
that time my “portable career” didn’t so much charge
ahead like a thoroughbred as move like one of those
zigzagging Southwestern snakes called a sidewinder.
A Look at How Things Evolved
Singing
.
Making new contacts and getting embedded
in the local music world takes a couple of years. But there
we were, leaving again before we had even finished un-
packing.
Did I find singing opportunities? Yes, everywhere
we’ve ever lived. I’ve sung at women’s clubs, school fund-
raisers and churches. As the sole American singer at post,
I’ve also done more versions of “The Star-Spangled Ban-
T
HE CAREER YOU START WITH PROBABLY
WON
T BE THE CAREER YOU END WITH
,
ONE
FS
SPOUSE EXPLAINS
.
B
Y
F
RANCESCA
K
ELLY
Francesca Kelly, a Foreign Service spouse since 1985, cur-
rently resides in Vienna, Austria, with her husband, Ian,
who is the U.S. representative to the Organization for Se-
curity and Cooperation in Europe with the rank of am-
bassador. She was
AFSA News
editor for the
Foreign
Service Journal
from 2008 to 2010.