MIRIAM, FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER, ECONOMIC
CAREER TRACK: My name is Miriam, and I work in the Operations Center at the State Department.
And I’ve been in the Foreign Service six years. I’ve served in two assignments where I’ve
been an Economic Officer. I served in the Consulate in Jerusalem and I served in the
Embassy in Athens. In both posts, I worked a lot on environment
issues. We worked a great deal with the Palestinian Authority on how to ramp up their ability
to conserve and protect their resources. In Athens, I worked a lot on how to change
the image of the U.S. vis-à-vis the Greek public.
I work in the Operations Center at the State Department. I’m a Watch Officer. There’s about
40 of us. And, essentially, we’re the hub of information for the State Department. So,
obviously our primary principal is the Secretary, and we support the Secretary and her staff,
and in fact, the rest of building. This becomes particularly critical during the off hours
and when, especially on the weekends and the holidays, we’re there to understand the information
that is happening, news events that are happening, alert key principals and basically, really
be a nerve center for the State Department. So, it’s been, I think both physically and
personally challenging, because a lot of the work is shift work and so we work early mornings,
afternoons, overnight shifts. So, we frequently are leaving the building when people are coming
in to work. But at the same time, the experience has been incredible. I’ve learned so much
from my one year in OPS, both how to brief, how to alert, how to understand information.
We’ve had…it’s only April, and we’ve had a slew of crises already with the Haiti earthquake,
obviously the blizzard that paralyzed a lot of the area, and also the earthquake in Chile.
And it’s been fascinating to see what our response is, how our inter-agency process
works, how we work with the Defense Department, how we work with the White House.
There is a lot of really interesting dimensions of economic work that are incredible. I really
enjoyed working on the telecom portfolio in Jerusalem, working with our group back here
on building an independent telecom regulatory agency in the Palestinian Authority, and trying
to get them up to speed on how to do that, how to implement accountability.
I was working with the medical director of a Palestinian hospital, and he sat me down
in his office for about 30 minutes, and just yelled at me for everything that is going
wrong with American foreign policy. And then, when he finished, we carried on with the conversation,
what his needs were and how we could change things. And I remember at my farewell in Jerusalem,
he just came over and hugged me. Although we may or may not always agree with our foreign
policy, there is some good that can be done whether it’s on a microscopic level or not,
and really that person to person contact can really change a dynamic.