The Foreign Service Journal - October 2014 - page 34

Corners, which are cultural programming platforms o ering
educational advising services, English-language teaching and
exchange program alumni activities, the balance has shifted.
IROs now seemmore closely aligned with the cultural side of the
One day, I’m sitting at a table in Ashgabat with 20 American
Center regulars.
ey borrow books, search the Internet, ask ref-
erence questions. One young student tells me he used the IRC to
learn enough English to get into the Future Leaders high school
exchange program (known as FLEX). Another studied here to
pass her GRE exams.
One author tells us about the book he wrote using resources
he found in the Resource Center.
e roomwe’re in not only has
Wi-Fi; it has Turkmenistan’s fastest and cleanest Internet con-
nection. Somebody mentions, cautiously, news sources here that
can’t be accessed anyplace else in the country. And it’s all free.
When asked what we might do to improve services, they have
only one suggestion: keep it open seven days a week instead of the
current six.
Another day, I’m on a panel of judges at the side of the stage in
the Kulob American Corner. A Tajik kid—14 years old, with huge
ears and a voice so strong and pure and surprising we immedi-
ately nickname himMichael, after the King of Pop—is singing
Sinatra in the rst round of Tajikistan’s American Song Competi-
Making these moments possible is what we do.
We were somewhere around Balkanabat, on the edge of the
desert, when the realization began to take hold: Best. Job. Ever.
WilliamMiddleton has been an Information Resource O cer
since 1993, at which time the specialty belonged to the U.S. Infor-
mation Agency and IROs were called Regional Library O cers.
Currently serving in New Delhi, his previous postings include Lagos,
Buenos Aires, Dakar, Vienna, Almaty and Washington, D.C.
King for a Day
By W. Paul Margulies Jr.
Diplomatic Security
I’m not sure what Saul Wahl, the so-called King of Poland for
a day, did with his time, but my time at the helm (two days) was
well-spent. A double absence of the ambassador and the deputy
chief of mission in Valletta, Malta, in December 2013, gave me
new perspective—coping with a security detail from the princi-
pal’s point of view as opposed to the DS vantage point.
In September, we had inaugurated a new protective detail for
the ambassador. TeamValletta adapted to the addition of a detail
sourced by host-nation and locally employed sta , schedule
changes and the normal day-to-day operations that a ect a chief
of mission and her detail.
e ambassador and I had many con-
versations at the start of operations to cover the basics.
We still touch base to make sure her protection needs are
as balanced as possible with her need for privacy. On the rare
occasion that she leaves Malta, the detail protects the chargé
d’a aires, in most cases the deputy chief of mission. He, too, is
familiar with the requirements of having a protective detail in
place and is good-natured about having them around.
My stint as chargé was a real eye-opener. Over the past 12-plus
years with Diplomatic Security, I have worked on a protection
AFSA/Jeff Lau
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