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Assignment: Nairobi

Just after my TDY to DC, we were given what is known in Foreign Service parlance as a "handshake" for our next post: Nairobi, Kenya. This will be our fourth assignment with the Foreign Service: Washington, D.C. was first, followed by 2.5 year assignment as a Construction Manager in Jeddah, Saudia Arabia. My first full-time Project Director position was in Nicosia, Cyprus, and now I'm going to be the CM for the guy that I replaced as CM in Jeddah. It's a small world.

And I should point out that after the first two assignments, folks are usually tenured and considered to be "mid-level" and that changes how one goes about getting an assignment. And, as always, my career field does things differently. But I digress.
Flag of Kenya
Flag of Kenya

As for the symbolism of the flag, it's pretty straight forward. The Kenyan flag includes symbols of unity, peace and defense of the country. The color black represents the people of the Republic of Kenya, red for the blood shed during the fight for independence, and green for the country's landscape and natural wealth. The white fimbriation was added later to symbolize peace and honesty. The black, red, and white traditional Maasai shield and two spears symbolize the defense of all the things mentioned above.


FSCE Mid-level Assignments
Anyways, here's a little more about the "mid-level" assignment process for Foreign Service Construction Engineers. It differs from the entry-level assignments process in that you can kind of say no, since they aren't directed assignments. You can also lobby the decision-makers, who in this case are the branch chiefs. We also are more flexible on the "stretch" assignments, because there are simply more projects than people so there are always opportunities to take on the more challenging projects. Though, after my project in Jeddah, I was looking for a less challenging one.

FSCE Mid-Level Assignment Timeline
19 Sep 16: Official Summer 2017 bid season starts
25 Sep 16: I submitted my Summer 2017 bid list. Pro Tip: Don't put down anywhere you don't want to go because they will say "Well, you did bid on it."
21 Oct 16: Bids due for Summer Cycle
31 Oct 16: Bureaus may offer Handshakes to Summer Bidders
7 Nov 16: I was officially extended in Jeddah for another 5 months. Previous TED was 4 Jan 17.

xx Feb 20:Received my "pre-handshake notice" from OBO. I had asked to extend another year in Cyprus, but the contractor's performance was so poor that the decision was made to terminate/reduce scope such that my presence wasn't needed longer than my assignment. I consider this my unofficial handshake/notification of intent to assign me to Nairobi.
xx month 20: initiated medical clearance process
xx month 20: Received my official handshake offer for Nairobi
xx month 20: Accepted the handshake offer. requested delayed home leave (in part due to COVID-19 impacts on travel). Required additional approvals.
x month 20: handshake officially registered. sent to assignment officer to be paneled. 
x May 20: informed that if approved for delayed home leave, it would result in the loss of one of two R&Rs during the Nairobi assignment (not enough consecutive time overseas).  withdrew request for deferrred home leave; sent to assignment panel
19 May 20: Formal Panel to assign me to Nairobi
21 May 20: TM One issued (xx days after handshake offer)
xx month 20: TM Two Submitted
xx month 20: TM Two Accepted (7 days after TM Two submitted)
xx month 20: TM Two Returned & Re-submitted (Rest stop flight had no onward passage under the plane for our dog)
N/A: TM Three Received (They exist online)
xx month 20: TM Four issued (51 days after TM One issued, 29 days after revised TM Two submitted)
xx month 20: HHE Pack-Out
xx month 20: Final exit visa issued
xx month 20: Wheels Up!


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