For years I kept journals -- in composition, spiral bound, and French graph paper books. This blog is an attempt to get back to writing and documenting the world around me using photos, newspaper headlines, and other articles.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I'm leaving on a jet plane

Written from seat 5F on flight #2042 from DC to Boston last night.

And I'm done! So, my understanding yesterday when I left FSI for the day was that our group had decided no to do any creative entertainment for our graduation.  Nobody took ownership or exhibited leadership to come up with a skit, interpretive dance or song.  We might have been one of the few groups who didn't do anything, but we seemed to be in agreement about it.

At 10:45 after our first session this morning, imagine my surprise when I came across a few of our group leafing through a binder of examples of the creative efforts of prior graduating classes.  I overheard them chose to copy a song that an earlier class performed.  Frustrating!  I thought we had agreed not to  perform.  My feeling was if I'm going to make a food out of myself, I want it to be with original material.  I gnashed my teeth, stomped back down the hall to the computer lab, slung my bad down and googled the words to So Long, Farewell from The Sound of Music.  In 20 minutes I had put on my FSI spin.

I had just enough time to pass around a copy before my next review session.  Since we were in smaller groups, not everyone had a chance to look at it, but those who did, agreed to perform my revision.  During lunch, somebody suggested that we just sing the chorus portion since she wasn't sure if everybody would remember the tune of the first two verses.  I'm glad she proposed that change.  As I walked into the ConGen lobby for graduation, I handed out the chorus and we sang it beautifully.  I'm glad that we did something because all of our policy and systems instructors sang us a take off on a Madonna song first.  We would have looked really lame if we didn't have anything prepared for them.  Here it is:

There's a happy sort of laughter from the couches in the lobby
And the chairs in the classroom too.
And out on the walkways as we pass one another
We are stopping to say, adieu,
A-dieu, a-dieu

Respectfully they tell us,
With assurances they compel us
To say goodbye,
To you

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night,
I want to go and leave FSI tonight!

(Do-doodle-oot-do-do-do-do-do-doodle-oot-do-do, dah)

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adios
Adios, adios, to our terrific hosts

So long, farewell, adieu, gule-gule
I'm so happy, that I don't have to stay

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye,
I'm glad to go, I cannot tell a lie
I study, I pack, I see DHS and fly

Our studying is over and off to post go I
Good bye!

Not all the lines were original, but enough were changed to make it our own.

After our little party and hugs goodbye, I caught the shuttle to Rosslyn.  I walked the two blocks to the metro station and only had to wait two minutes before the metro came.  When I arrived at the Crystal City station, I walked up the escalator and saw the hotel shuttle.  No wait time.  I had seen this driver a couple of times in the past six weeks.  He asked me how my day went.  I replied that I was fabulous because I had graduated from my six-week course.  He was so happy for me, he gave me a high-five.  The rest of our conversation went something like this.

"You look so happy.  I smiled like you the day I became an American citizen."

"Congratulations on your citizenship. What is your home country?"

"The Congo.  It is in Central Africa."

"Are you from Kinshasa or Bra.."

"Oh my God!  I have never met someone on this bus who knew my home town!  Kinshasa.  Yes, you know my home town."

"I work for the State Department and have a little geography knowledge."

"Mrs. Clinton is a good woman.  She cares about people.  She wants leaders to care for their own people.  In Africa, many of our leaders only care for themselves.  A normal person cannot give voice to any opposition. But Mrs. Clinton goes to my country and tries to tell the leader to take care of his people.  I want to study criminal justice to help people express their voice.  Now that I am a citizen of this great country, I can study, I can do anything I want."

We were rounding the corner to the front of the hotel.  I was able to get off the shuttle and say to him, "Good luck on your journey.  I'm so happy for you that you were able to get American citizenship."

Wow, you just never know when you will have a meaningful encounter.  Thank goodness for eighth grade geography, our shower curtain map, and my curiosity about the world I live in.

I continued to have good fortune in timing because all those quick connections enabled me to get to the airport at 4:40, plenty of time for my 6:30 flight.  When I got to the ticket counter, I had the option of taking the 5:30 flight instead.  Yes please!  The only glitch came when weighing my big suitcase -- 8 pounds over the limit.  Quickly I took out eight pounds of stuff and crammed it in my other checked bag and carry-on.  I did not want to pay the additional $90 for a heavy bag.  Paying the $60 to check two bags is all I believe I will be reimbursed for.  Having an additional $90 would be on me and I was not willing to incur that expense.

I had a window seat on the right side of the plane.  I was able to snap a few pictures.  My hotel is the building on the far left, in the back, the others are of the Capitol and the National Cathedral.

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