Sunday, May 22, 2011

Into the Fire

I had been pursuing several different options while I waited for the the results from the QEP, and am heading off to the West Bank and to Cairo tomorrow to work on a project for a large NGO. This is a pro bono consulting job of sorts,and also an extended interview process for both of us.

This is a much different opportunity then working inside an embassy, and this NGO certainly works in a very rough and tumble atmosphere. They have been very active in Libya, and have humanitarian operations in Misrata. I don't think I will be doing anything nearly that exciting during this trip, but I suspect this trip to the West Bank will feel very different than when I was last there in February.

One of many questions is what happens next in the Middle East? One of the major priorities going forward with this NGO is to attack the massive youth unemployment issue in the region, and in particular make investments in the technology sector to stimulate entrepreneurism and job creation. It is the sort of challenge quite frankly that blows away what I might do as a junior management officer in the Foreign Service. I see it more as being a technocrat executing policy which you don't have any say in (just like when I was in the military) versus being truly entrepreneurial to achieve a strategic objective. Not that one is necessarily better or worse, but definitely different.

My plane leaves Monday morning right when the window opens up to schedule the Oral Assessment, so I will be frantically trying to schedule it from the airplane before we take off. Since this is just a trial run I definitely want and need to keep all of my options open. Based upon my interactions so far with many of the senior people in the organization, if given the choice I would probably not take the OA if they offer me a permanent position following this assignment.

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