Well, the weekend’s over and it’s time to get back to work. For me that means continuing Arabic language training at the Foreign Service Institute within the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, about five miles from the Department of State. I sought out this training and think that it is essential to my effectiveness in my next assignment. And it gives me a sense of pride to know that we devote the amount of resources we do to training. The Foreign Service Institute “provides more than 450 courses — including some 70 foreign languages — to more than 50,000 enrollees a year from the State Department and more than 40 other government agencies and the military service branches.” Which is not to say that we couldn’t do more. Particularly in this changing global environment, there are many areas where it is helpful to step outside the pressurized internal loop and get a different perspective.
Still, being outside the pressurized flurry of internal communications and interactions that make up that internal loop brings a sense of loss, like a news junkie ripped away from the 24-hour sound bite cycle. And to be away from it for a year (or two, as was the original plan) can be very disconcerting.
In part, that’s why I expanded my use of social networks when I arrived at FSI, rapidly expanding my Facebook friends with colleagues from work, and then exploring the benefits of LinkedIn to see about developing new professional networks of expertise that I could draw on. And, most recently, Govloop, which has so far provided me the best venue for comparing notes with colleagues on issues of governance and other more human things, like good places to eat or the latest things on television, that people, regardless of profession, can relate to.
Yet, there still remains and internal loop and an external one, and while they occasionally intersect, I haven’t seen them merge or interact with each other regularly. Within the internal loop, work gets done. Within the external loop, work gets talked about. I wonder what models there are for looping them all together.