Page 53 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2013

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APRIL 2013
young woman from the Uni-
versity of Southern Califor-
Daily Trojan
Next to me is a Japanese
woman from Osaka who is
having trouble with her Inter-
net connection.
Once the ceremony starts,
it takes awhile before the
frst winners come back to
the interview room. When
they do, it is mostly winners
in technical categories. The
moderator reminds us to
please ask them questions,
as it would be embarrassing
if no one raises a number.
A lot of table conversa-
tion ensues about the food
that is served. The veterans
agree that the Oscars has the
best food of all of the various
award ceremonies—they
even have shrimp! I can’t
help but wondering why this
is such a big deal; you can get
frozen shrimp at Costco.
Things really ramp-
up when the celebs start
appearing: Jennifer Lawrence
is funny; so is Daniel Day-
Lewis. Quentin Tarentino is
amazing in a unique way (but
you probably already have
your own opinion). Anne
Hathaway is emotional.
The journalists’ questions
border on weird. Some are
incomprehensible. Big cheers
go up for the “Life of Pi” and
its best director winner, Ang
Lee. Our little group is start-
ing to think that “Argo” might
lose the big enchilada. I keep
the faith and wonder what to
do if it does win.
Cut to the White House:
The First Lady of the United
States of America, with
members of the military
service behind her (where are
the members of the Foreign
Service?), is presenting the
award for best picture!
The moment has arrived.
My mind goes blank. I hatch a
plan to walk up to the front of
the room so that the mod-
erator can see me frantically
waving number 138 (I was
out of her feld-of-vision
thanks to ABC’s mega-
camera). And the winner
I quickly make my way to
the front, stand there in my
Macy’s ball gown, waving
my number 138. A couple of
journalists ask their ques-
tion, but then, out of all of the
numbers waving in the air,
she calls 138!
“Hello. I’m Donna Ayerst
from the American For-
eign Service Association in
Washington, D.C.” (producers
Ben Afeck, George Clooney
and Grant Heslov all turn to
look at me. Fainting is not an
option.) “Your movie and also
the comments you’ve made
at all of the awards ceremo-
nies has really raised the
image and the profle of the
Foreign Service, something
that we don’t get very often.
We don’t get much play. But
I would like to invite you, all
three of you, to the plaque
ceremony that we have in
the Department of State on
May 3, where we honor fallen
Foreign Service ofcers.”
After an interruption from
the moderator asking me
if I have a question, Afeck
answers: “I don’t know if we
can come, but we do have, all
of us, a tremendous respect
for what the Foreign Service
sacrifces and goes through
and that we, I think, gained
further appreciation for as
we shot the movie and visited
the State Department. I know
Secretary Clinton a little bit
and Secretary Kerry a little
bit better...I’ve really picked
up an appreciation for what
the State Department does,
what our Foreign Service
does, what they sacrifce.”
AFSA at the Oscars. What
an historic night!
Last scene: A woman in a
navy blue, sequined ball gown
is driving west on the Santa
Monica Freeway by herself.
She smiles all the way to the