Saturday, September 27, 2014

Two Years in India, Week 13: Sponsorship!

One Baker's dozen weeks in Chennai. I'm going to run out of unique ways to count weeks soon. Nothing major to report on the work front, things are just chugging along. 

The biggest news this week was that new officer I'm sponsoring came into town! I learned that there are a ton of work related responsibilities to being a sponsor that I totally failed at (like arranging the expediter to meet him and his family in baggage claim). Fortunately, I was able to flag them down on their way out of the airport and things went fairly smoothly from there. Oh well, hopefully I can make up for it with awesome social sponsoring! 

I do feel a little weird being a sponsor when I haven't even received my HHE yet (at my first post, none-the-less), but the post was really hurting for sponsors since fully half of the officers transferred this summer. I've definitely been taking notes on "dos" and "do differentlys" of being a sponsor, so I hope to iron things out for next time. I'm a pretty social person, so I'm planning to volunteer as a social sponsor every transfer season. Let's face it, there's no better way to meet the new people than to pick them up at the airport in the middle of the night!

I have a funny work anecdote to share this week. When I was flying solo at post, before our IPO came, I had to make a list of end-of-year purchase items for my department. Being relatively new, both to post and to the Foreign Service, I didn't have a great idea on what we needed. This turned out to be a bummer when the IPO did arrive and pointed out all these great things I could have requested (doh)! Anyway, one of the purchase requests that I did put in was for safety shoes for the mail room staff. They regularly carry heavy pouches and it only takes one broken foot to more than cover for the cost of the shoes. This seemed like a pretty run-of-the-mill thing to me. However, now that we've received the steel-toed shoes, I realize that it was a much bigger deal for my staff than I'd realized. Shoes in India are kind of a status symbol (which I don't understand, because they're not that expensive, but people generally only wear sandals). Apparently many of the LES from other departments have been quite jealous of the mail room's new shoes... also, morale in the mail room has skyrocketed. All for something that seemed so trivial to me at first. Guess I still have a lot to learn about working with people from other cultures!

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