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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

OCTOBER 2016

25

Pollution can lead to serious health issues,

and dealing with that can be a bureaucratic nightmare.

BY DEBORAH LYNN

COVER STORY

Deborah Lynn, a Foreign Service officer since 1998,

served as cultural affairs officer in Jakarta from 2014 to

2016. She previously served in Frankfurt, Kyiv, Tbilisi,

Moscow, Afghanistan and the Bureau of Population,

Refugees and Migration, and she was seconded to NATO’s Interna-

tional Staff. She currently serves as deputy director for the Africa Team

at State's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization. The views expressed

are hers alone and not necessarily those of the U.S. government.

W

hen I received word that

my bid to be cultural

affairs officer in Jakarta

had been accepted,

I was thrilled!

I looked forward to

finding a great school

for my son and daugh-

ter, doing interesting

work in an important, Muslim-majority country, and exploring a

country and region where I’d never served. To be sure,

I understood the drawbacks to living in a megacity; the risk of

contracting dengue, typhoid and other tropical diseases; and the

horrendous traffic in Indonesia’s capital. But I was ready to take

those challenges in stride.

Indonesia, indeed, proved to be a fascinating place to live,

work and travel—until nine months into my tour, when I came

down with pneumonia.

Running Ragged

Prior to arriving at post in 2014, I had prided myself on being

physically active. I frequently participated in races ranging from

10 milers to marathons, and hoped to do the same in Jakarta.

My work schedule made that more difficult, but I fit in runs

whenever I could—at the school track while my son was at

evening Boy Scout meetings or around my neighborhood on

Saturday mornings.

In early June 2015, I felt myself fighting the hacking cough

and upper respiratory issues that seemed to be making the

MACCOATES/WWW.FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/49246618@N04/4715954965

BREATHLESS IN JAKARTA

A CAUTIONARY TALE