“Realities of Foreign Service Life” Book

In 2002, thanks to a volunteer team of writers and editors led by Melissa Hess, AAFSW published the popular book Realities of Foreign Service Life. The book covered topics such as raising teens abroad, coping with evacuations, readjusting to life in the United States and more, in a collection of essays contributed by 29 members of the Foreign Service community. Since then, AAFSW has published several additional books: Realities Foreign Service Life, Volume 2 (2007), Moving Your Household Without Losing Your Mind (2013) and Raising Kids in the Foreign Service (2015).  To learn more visit: www.aafsw.org/foreign-service-books/

Reading of an excerpt from Pat Olsen’s piece in “Realities of Foreign Service Life” [AAFSW][Speech audio recording], p. 21

Why we do this
1. There is never a dull moment.
2. You and your children will be first-class storytellers.
3. All your stories will be true.
4. You and your kids will feel at home in many cultures, developing and practicing skills in observation, language, tolerance and understanding.
5. You will call many places “home,” with friends, memories and special places all over the world.
6. Plain U.S. living will look rather bland and ordinary. You will live every moment in the spice of life – sweet or fiery.
7. Your family will develop the old-fashioned habits of talking together, eating together and sharing life together.
8. Your family will develop a wide-angle view of the world.
9.You will do things other people only dream of.
10. The spouse will write notes like this and, all in all, realize that choices are made, one can’t have it all and what we do have is unique.

Excerpted from Pat Olsen’s contribution to “Realities of Foreign Service Life”, page 21

A bit more about Pat Olsen

Pat Olsen, her husband Norman, economic officer, and their three children have spent most of their Foreign Service career overseas, serving in Kingston, Jamaica (1983-85); Oslo, Norway (85-87); Washington, D.C. (87-89); Majuro, The Marshall Islands (89-91); Tel Aviv, Israel (91-95); Geneva, Switzerland (95-99); Washington, D.C. (99-2000); and Chisinau, Moldova (2000-02). Pat has published articles on the Foreign Service lifestyle, taught elementary school, chaired a school board, run a recreation center, home-schooled, served as president of five international women’s clubs, worked as mental health coordinator, tutored, and edited. She made her symphonic debut with the Moldovan Philharmonic Orchestra. She has independently studied Norwegian, Hebrew, French, and Romanian. In 1994, she won The American Association of Foreign Service Women’s Secretary of State’s Pin for Outstanding Volunteerism, Near East Asia.

Excerpt of author’s bio from “Realities of Foreign Service Life”