Page 35 - FSJ June 2012

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J U N E 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
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last three as president. She is also the current secretary of
the International Foreign Service Association board.
A
N
I
NTEGRAL
P
ART OF
U.S. D
IPLOMACY
By Ravindran Manickam, Kuala Lumpur
On the day that I joined the staff of the U.S. embassy in
Kuala Lumpur in 1989, I took an oath before the consul
general that I would never go on strike. Later in the day,
the Regional Security Officer informed me that I would
be fired on the spot if I were ever caught on certain floors
of the embassy without an American escort.
Twenty-three years later, the memory of that first day is
still very vivid. And I continue to be fascinated by some of
the things my American colleagues say.
Of course, it is not just Americans who say strange
things. My fellowMalaysians sometimes ask me questions
like these: “Why are you working for the U.S. government?
Why don’t you use your skills for the Malaysian govern-
ment instead?” And this perennial query: “When are you
going for training at Langley?” I take these comments in
stride, but they do make me chuckle.
I love my job, and feel passionate about the issues I
work on. I’ve had the good fortune never to have had a
bad boss or colleagues in the political section. In fact, I
believe that I’ve worked with some of the finest diplomats
in the U.S. Foreign Service. Quite a few of them have
gone on to the Senior Foreign Service, and some have
served as ambassadors.
Every time I see a familiar name on the State Depart-
ment promotion list, I feel truly proud to see another FSO
who served here advance. Yes, the constant rotation can
be frustrating. It often seems that just when you get com-
fortable working with an American officer, he or she de-
parts for a new post, leaving you to start over with a
brand-new officer. But overall, I love the relationships I’ve
developed.
I think the State Department knows how valuable local
F
OCUS