What makes a blog a Foreign Service blog?
For that matter, what makes a person part of the Foreign Service family?
There are some for whom the definition is less expansive than it is for me.
One of my friends, Jen over at The Dinoia Family has apparently been removed from the State Department's blogroll. Her blog isn't FS enough. Specifically, she apparently talks too much about her health issues. She talked about getting breast cancer while her husband was on an unaccompanied tour. She used:::::gasp:::::the word "nipple."
Obviously, I think that is absurd.
No one has ever questioned whether my blog was a Foreign Service blog. Even when I delve into issues such as marriage equality, which I do pretty regularly. Even when I talk about my non-work related travels. Which I do with relative frequency (directly proportional to whether I have managed to get a day off, but that is another story).
But all of these things are in the context of my life as a Foreign Service Officer.
Jen has been, I think, in the service longer than I have. But to some, she is not in the service at all. She is just a "trailing spouse." But as I said, I have a more expansive view. Perhaps that is because before I was an officer, I was a "trailing spouse." All of us, ALL of us, who are living our lives overseas at the behest the country we love and serve via our connection to the State Department, are serving. ALL of us. That is officers yes, but it is also specialists. It is also our local staff. And it is also our families. We are all serving. We are all part of the Foreign Service, and part of the Foreign Service family.
If you take a look at my blogrolls (two now because blogger has restricted the number of blogs per roll), you will see well over 300 (maybe 400...I am too lazy to count) Foreign Service blogs. There are blogs from officers, specialists, spouses and kids. I include them all because they are all serving. And even when they are not specifically talking about life in the service, they are still talking about life in the service. They are talking about careers (or lack thereof) while in the service as a spouse. They are talking about crafting in a foreign land. Raising children in a foreign land. And yes, getting sick in a foreign land. Or getting sick in America while facing the prospect of moving back to a foreign land, not getting to move to a foreign land, or having your spouse leave you behind while he or she moves to a foreign land. In short, they are talking about all the things everyone does but in a culture that is foreign, and that can never get truly familiar because we are only at a given post for a brief time.
Jen's blog in particular offers a great service to those considering joining the service by giving some insight not just into how you deal with Unaccompanied Tours but how you deal with things like the Big C in this crazy life. And frankly, it is a good news story. A story not just of how she survived (yay!) but also how the Department got her husband home to her. Found him a job in DC so he could stay with her. Found him an appropriate job overseas when the danger had passed. Took care of an FS family.
But apparently that is not FS enough.
So come on, whoever runs the blogroll at State. Put her back. Prove I am right. That we are one service, one family. Prove that we value all of our family. Every FS blog out there offers a window that someone out there needs in order to decide whether to join us. Jen's blog is a big window. I want as many people as possible looking in, so that the best people possible climb on through.
Update: The story has been picked up by a bunch of FS blogs, and those of us in the FS Blogger group on Facebook have vowed to make sure we use the word nipple in a post (see that...twice in this one!). It has also been picked up by Washington Post's Federal Eye. So maybe it really is also true that when someone closes a window (to the FS), they open a door.