Blog · Professional

Why I Blog

 

I have been “blogging” on and off since 2013 but by mid 2014 I  began to write with consistency and conviction. I started with a self-hosted wordpress domain and after multiple reincarnations, Diplomatic Snob of the 21st Century was created.

So why have I been blogging for so long and why do I carry on?

I want to connect with people
Blogging is an amazing way of getting to meet other people; I’ve made some of my closest friends online. By sharing online we can get to know other people, form friendships, and build support networks.

I want to share my experiences and advice
My business wouldn’t have been successful if it wasn’t for all the free resources I made use of when starting out; I want to give something back by sharing my perspective and experiences of running a business.

Thank you for reading posts on this blog. I am heading into year two with this “little one”. When I started, I wondered if I would have enough topics to write about. I do not worry about that any more because this blog has taught me how to write what I think, and I  am thinking all the time. I think, therefore I blog. It’s been lovely, and so much fun.

Blog · Professional

How the FSOT Tackled Me

I received the results of my FSOT on October 30. Unfortunately, I did not pass. From what I understand, the FSOT is scored as a T-score (see better explanation). Basically, it rates test takers against each other, meaning, a fixed percentage of takers will pass. If everyone’s scores are clumped together, one question can make a difference between passers and failers.

The Test consists of 4 sections:
1. Job Knowledge (60 questions)
2. Biographic Information (77 questions)
3. English Usage (65 questions)
4. Essay (30 minutes)

To pass, you need to:
Score 154 or higher cumulatively on the first 3 sections
Score 6 or higher on the essay (1-12 scale)

See my results (Not proud of it but thought posting it here will motivate me to do better next year. Guess I’m just a sucker for pain and public humiliation):

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.26.52 AM

Clearly, I know myself more than I know what’s out there and failed by a gazillion points. My score was pretty low, so my “dazzling” little essay was irrelevant.

My Biographic Info score was not too shabby. I LOVE to work, so I know what I’ve done in the past and how my experience and skills will benefit my future employers. For this section I pretty much prepared by looking at the 13 dimensions which are available on the careers.state.gov website. I jotted down a few examples for each of the Ds on things that I thought would demonstrate those dimensions. I highly recommend you do that, seeing as this strategy paid off.

On the English Expression, I pretty much feel like you either learned grammar in middle school or you didn’t. I actually thought I had aced the section, I thought it was really easy. I remain puzzled. Seeing my EE score made me cringe and face-palm about 100x. However, in my last post, I did mention the anxiety I was feeling when I saw that the EE section was loading questions too slowly while the clock was running.

For the Job Knowledge section, I’ve heard it described as “broad but not deep,” and that is pretty accurate. I played a lot of geography games before I took the test, so I believe I did okay when it came to that area. Hmm, what may have killed me is the history and pop culture questions. My advice on this section is stay informed.

On the Essay… well, remember they are looking for how you write not what you write. My question was on education and I used the “Five paragraph essay” style. Wish I knew how I scored..

I’m thinking, it will be back to square one with the JK and EE section. Because with scores this bad, the only way to go is up, right. Plus, I hear it gets easier the second time around. And the third 🙂

>> Some tips for myself. I plan on utilizing the FSOT Yahoo! Group and actually participate in active conversations concerning the challenges of the exam. Since, I’m in the area, I plan on visiting and getting to know the Diplomat-in-Residence. Hopefully, picking her brain and working through some sample questions will give me an edge next year. May have to dust up an elements-of-style type of grammar do’s and dont’s book guide.

I’ve heard that some candidates get in the low-mid 30s on the JK and high scores in the other sections, some get high scores in the JK but low ones in the other sections, and some get high scores in all the multiple choice sections and do not receive a passing score on the essay. Not that it makes me feel better but this explanation opens my eyes to the scoring process.

So Yes, I plan to reapply and retake the FSOT next year. There is no limit to the number of times you can do so. Prior attempts are not/not held against you at any stage in the application process. Applicants who wish to retake the FSOT must submit a new registration package, and are eligible to retake the test after a year has elapsed since their previous test. In practice, this means that a candidate who took the first of the three tests offered one year would be eligible to take the first of the three tests offered the following year — even if, due to minor shifts in the dates of test windows from year to year, slightly fewer than 365 days might have elapsed since the candidate last took the test.

If you have any other ideas/suggestions on the sections, please, send them my way. I would greatly appreciate them! I look forward to any comments or corrections!

Blog · Professional

How I Tackled the FSOT

I took the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) this past Saturday, Oct 4. The FSOT is the entrance exam for people who want to work in the Foreign Service, i.e., work in embassies and consulates in other countries. I don’t have the results yet, so I’ve got to wait for the results in about 3-4 weeks. I’ll add another post with my results and some analysis. Fear not, Job Recruiters! This is just a practice run for me.

The test is in four parts: job knowledge, biographical information, English expression, and the essay.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends and people about how I studied for the FSOT. Many people told me that I could not study for the test because it is too broad, but I disagree. So here is my advice.

The job knowledge section: Dozens of 4-choice multiple choice questions, covering history, geography, politics, economics, computers, and probably several other topics. The questions were difficult because many of the answers were very similar. Read blogs, read stories on the Yahoo! group, and Google stuff.

The biographical information section: Know thyself. Dozens of multiple choice questions, this time about yourself. For example, how many times in the last six months have people come to you for help resolving a stressful management issue at work? 0,1,2,3,4,5. If you answer anything other than zero, you have to list the specific incidents. I answered truthfully, but there’s no way to know exactly what they’re looking for so DO NOT BE SHY.

The English expression section: You have  several paragraphs of text, with certain words or phrases underlined. Kinda like the SAT/GRE. You have to pick the best substitution for the underlined portions, from a list of similar answers. The test measures your grasp of the English language and grammer. This section was particularly draining for me. As soon, I clicked next, the screen would take about two seconds to load the next question. I saw that the timer continued during the loading process, taking away precious time. I felt I did not have time to argue and bring this up to the assistants, so I just went with it. However, I finished with about 5 extra minutes to double check some of answers. Beware, if this happens to you.

Of all the sections of the test, the essay was the most difficult: You have thirty minutes, including the time it takes to read the prompt (which is itself a small essay) and think of responses. I have been advised you must be able to come up with three points, and intro and conclusion. I know I wrote to the best of this structure, so I’m not sure if any of my points made sense, but they kept saying they were looking only at the structure of the essay, and not the content. I continued writing, just as the seconds ticked off!

>> Additional Advice:

— READ A DAILY NEWSPAPER/MEMOIRS/ONLINE CONTENTS. I can’t stress this enough. I recommend The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Financial Times. Please note, Feds, military and students get FREE access to Washington Post digital. You don’t need to read it cover-to-cover, but you should be aware of what the heck is going on in the world. Personally, I read memoirs of former public officials. For example, reading Madeleine Albright’s , Madame Secretary, helped me answer an African geography question.

— Read and know the U.S. Constitution. Learn all the Amendments to the Constitution. You don’t need to memorize it word-for-word, but you should be able to immediately know, for example, that slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment, that the 26th Amendment gave 18-year-olds the right to vote, etc.  I researched fun facts because it was easier to retain information.

— If you haven’t written in a while, practice writing. Research a current hot topic (same-sex marriage, education, human tights etc.), pick a viewpoint and write a one-page typed essay that defends your viewpoint with clear, succinct examples (i.e. current events, recent legal cases or other precedents you might have heard about in the news, etc). You are not graded by your position, only the structure and how you analyze content.

— Download the DOScareers Mobile App: Test your knowledge with more than 500 sample FSOT questions about U.S. government and culture, world history, technology, economics and more..

— Sign up for an FSOT Information Session: You can do this via the app and find upcoming recruitment events near you, add events to your calendar and get directions to events/exam centers.

Get some sleep the day before. Eat some breakfast or lunch, I actually took my test at 5PM. You might be nervous, and that is normal. Preparation always makes me feel better, and I felt prepared, though I had no idea how I would do since I had never taken the test before.

Just as I entered the room, waiting to receive the form filled with Q&A’s, someone tapped me on the shoulder. A fellow Seton Hall Alum had just finished taking the FSOT and came over to wish me luck. Seeing someone familiar had given me a bit of confidence!

I hope this helps you to pass the test. If you have more specific questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me.

Blog · Professional

Do You See Drones Connecting the World?

image via Internet.org

Facebook Connectivity Lab engineering director Yael Maguire spoke about the network’s initiative to implement drones (the good ones) to help connect developing regions to the Internet. Essentially, the goal is to build and launch a fleet of solar-powered drones that can connect the billions of people to the internet.

We’re going to have to push the edge of solar technology, battery technology, composite technology.” – Maguire

And if you would rather call drones as planes, then you are not alone as Maguire also prefers to use the term when describing the unmanned aircraft.

In order to fly the planes for months or years at a time in order to provide consistent connectivity to the internet, the planes will have to fly “above weather, above all airspace,” which is anywhere from 60,000 to 90,000 feet in the air. Maguire goes on that this reason puts the planes in tricky regulatory footing, since there are essentially no regulations on aircraft that fly above 60,000 feet in the air. “All the rules exist for satellites, and we’re invested in those. They play a very useful role, but we also have to help pave new ground,” he explained.

What I thought most interesting, was when Maguire informed us that the drones will be about the size of 747 commercial airplanes, yet much lighter, adding that one of the models being worked on by the Connectivity Lab is the length of “about six or seven Priuses, but is the weight of four of the tires of a Prius.”

Excitedly enough, Maguire informed us the team hopes to test one of its drones in a yet-to-be-determined United States location in the year 2015. He predicts the time frame for Internet access being provided by planes in about three to five years.

There are a lot of negative connotations associated with drones. Imagine an era, where drones are not just killing machines but can save lives and offer free basic services to those in need. This is a noble cause but I predict that the planes will require countless adjustments before being fully operational. Optimistically speaking, I look forward to seeing the live-action footage of the planes in the future. With big risks come even bigger rewards. Yes, I see this working and easily connecting billions of people.

Similar topic, but for animal lovers: How to Stop the World’s Poachers with Drones 

Are you in agreement with this vision, some reservations or have different recommendations about going in a another direction? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Blog · Professional

SGS 2014: Year of the Female Voice

My FAVORITE quote was the FIRST statement coming from a man:

As I sat in my chair and watched different women take the stage at the 2014 Social Good Summit, I started thinking about the event hashtag and what it really means to me: #2030NOW. I wanted to hear something different, a new piece of information to rally behind. Out of the many incredible and diverse female panelists and speakers, only three women really stood out to me: Al Jazeera Host Femi Oke, Midwife Victoria Shaba and Brain Scientist Jill Bolte Taylor. I saw the power of digital activism and hope people will continue to raise awareness and share the stories heard at the Summit. My wish is to humbly convey the impact they had on me:

1. Femi Oke As moderator for the dynamic panel on Innovation and Maternal Health, Oke proved herself to not only be a gracious moderator but most importantly able to engage the audience’s attention with humor and class on the simple ways to change lives. Like everyone watching her speak, I made a mental note to join the cause to call for action on maternal and child health. Oke kept the discussion on how improving maternal health is to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and even though maternal deaths have dropped 45% worldwide since 1990, there’s still work to be done. In addition, this issue is also tied to to another MDG: reducing child mortality, where it was mentioned that 17,000 children continue to die every day before their fifth birthdays.

To end the panel, Oke asked about the near future. “We have less than 500 days left to achieve the MDGs. What is even possible in that time?” Femi asked.

Thank you for keeping it lively and informative!

2. Victoria Shaba

via Mashable
via Mashable

Three words: Penguins Saves Lives! “This thing, the penguin, can save babies,” Shaba stated. “And it’s easy to do it, even for midwives in rural, hard-to-reach areas. They can use the penguin to suck the “obstructions” from the baby’s mouth and nose.” This tool is essential for midwives to save a newborn’s life.

Working with Save the Children in Malawi, Shaba brought forth the issue that “penguins” are not readily available to women in every particular area, which forces many midwives to improvise during childbirth. Due to this practice, the rate of the life of a newborn is greatly reduced and can even cost a newborns’ life.

I enjoyed hearing how Shaba trains midwives and the uses of a penguin!

3. Jill Bolte Taylor The Brain Lady: world famous neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, spoke about how we are all “energy beings having an energy experience,” which I believe to interpret as a great way to describe the experience of attending the Social Good Summit. We all have the power to choose who we want to be in the world. What are you doing with your power?

via my iPhone

In my early years, I was never one to excel in the sciences, but Dr. Taylor’s presentation proved the exception, as I paid careful attention and finally learned a thing or two about my brain. For example, did you know that staying angry for more than 90 seconds is just you rethinking the thought that made you angry? And our right brains don’t know where we end and others begin. In addition, the Left brain says, “I’d rather be right than happy” and the Right brain says, “I’d rather be happy than right.” Basically, we are “feeling” creatures who think and we have a growing global consciousness to seek change.

 

I hope my thoughts will help my readers understand and push for awareness about these women and the causes they hold dear. It is a passion of mine to inform little girls about these women and why they should see them as role models.

HBO / Via girlshbo.tumblr.com

“Women do 66% of the work, make 50% of the food, earn 10% of the income and own just 1% of the land” – via Connie Britton. Don’t put us in the corner anymore! #2030NOW

Blog · Professional

Connecting Classrooms Around the World via Skype

Wendy Norman and Michael Soskil via Zimbio

See how Skype in the classroom is helping teachers connect students with other students from around the world into the setting of a virtual field trip.

Teachers around the country are getting back into the grind and looking for new methods to engage their students. One virtual learning tool that is transforming schools across the nation seems to come in the form of Skype in the Classroom.

Wendy Norman from Skype for Good, a Microsoft YouthSpark program and Mike Soskil, a teacher from Pennsylvania, shared how Skype is connecting classrooms, teachers and students around the world to provide real-world learning opportunities. Soskil shared how his students and those they are connecting with are getting to see parts of the world they may never have the opportunity to travel to or experience and learn more about each other’s cultures. He believes students learn to solve real problems in the community by facilitating global collaboration opportunities with students from around the world, bringing in experts to talk via Skype and setting up opportunities for teachers to learn from each other via social media platforms.

“Skype in the Classroom” was created for teachers as quick service to continually hear and share stories about teachers who began using the technology in their classrooms so that they could introduce their students to cultures and experts worldwide in real time. Launched in March 2011, Skype in the Classroom allows teachers worldwide to post ideas for Skype lessons, connect with other classrooms and come up with ways to collaborate action via Skype. Skype in the Classroom’s global community has more than 43,000 teachers and 2,400 lessons, as of 2012.

Out of all the other panels, this was the one that unexpectedly moved me. As I sat in the audience, I got a real genuine sense of the positive impact that Skype in the Classroom has achieved since it’s ignition. The way Soskil spoke about his students and their creativity for promoting a kind act for another classroom in Africa, was touching to hear. I almost teared up when he said his students came up with the idea of teaching students in Africa math, in exchange for Swahili lessons, after his students saw how the condition of the classroom in Africa looked vastly different from their own. The reason it moved me is because young children thought up the idea, not adults, and it’s the young children who are making a difference. In that moment, I thought back to my own childhood education, where of course that sort of technology did not exist nor even the idea for collaborative learning with other students half-way across the world was ever introduced to me. I hope this example moved another person to sign up for Skype in a Classroom and continue to guide these students.

I believe, we need to teach kids the responsible and incredible ways to properly use technology for social good. We should to be teaching them how to inspire each other and advocate better solutions to global emergencies. It’s our responsibility to teach the younger generation to be safe.

See what others said during the event:

View the video below:

http://new.livestream.com/accounts/1467982/events/3401261/videos/62875445/player?width=640&height=360&autoPlay=false&mute=false

Have any similar ideas about connecting students with others in the world? What barriers have you faced when it comes to making the most of online tools for collaborative learning?

Blog · Professional

I am a UNA-USA Social Good Summit Blogger Fellow

via Mashable
via Mashable

I have been selected as one of the first-ever Social Good Summit Blogger Fellows on behalf of UNA-USA to blog the Social Good Summit in New York City from September 21-22, 2014. YAY, I am so excited to share this opportunity with y’all!

The Social Good Summit is a two-day conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world. Held during UN Week from September 21 to 22, the Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders and grassroots activists to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges of our time. The 2014 theme, #2030NOW: Connecting for Good, Connecting for All, asks the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?”

I believe blogging at the Social Good Summit will give me an invaluable awareness of the various perspectives and factors at play when attempting to address global emergencies. In addition, working with multi-cultural teams will give me further insight into how the international community works together on a professional level towards seeking global solutions. Coming from a small conservative town in Texas, I want to let little girls from around the world and especially my hometown, the importance of working hard to achieve equal rights and protections for women everywhere. I come from a family where women have been brought up to stay in the kitchen and think of nothing but to please the men of the family on every whim. I want to become a member of a huge global network speaking on women’s issues where my voice will be heard via my words and guidance. I will spread the UN’s good work, ideas and initiatives to give women choices for a better life. As a Blogger Fellow, I will not be afraid to write what is right for women to my audience via my own experiences and narrative.

I’d like to thank UNA-USA for the opportunity and look forward to writing about the summit and spreading awareness concerning global emergencies. In addition, I also want to thank Dr. Martin S Edwards, my graduate professor from Seton Hall University. For my application’s writing sample, I submitted the blog post Dr. Edwards kindly asked me to write for the Center for UN and Global Governance Studies over the 5 Highlights of the Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct. Thank you for asking me to write the post, as I believe it helped me become selected.

I am beyond thrilled at this opportunity and hope y’all will tune in with me! As I know more information, I will be sure to keep everyone updated #2030Now