Sunday, November 15, 2009

The OA

Elijah went to sleep at 9:30 pm on Thursday the 12th and set four alarms for 5:00 am to ensure he didn't sleep in. Because he was so anxious he just laid in bed until about midnight and then finally drifted off to sleep. At about 4:20 am he was wide awake and fretting over the upcoming day's events. A little after six he walked a few blocks to Annex 1 and met the eleven other candidates who would be testing with him.

The first activity of the day was the group activity. This is a group negotiation used to see if individuals can play nicely with each other. Elijah's strategy was to smile, speak clearly and concisely, and be exact in following instructions. The next exercise was a case memo. This involves reading through roughly thirty pages of dense information and drafting a memo in 90 minutes. The last and final phase of the day was the structured interview. Here the assessors ask questions to find out one's motivations for pursuing a career in the foreign service. They also read two hypothetical questions and ask several questions to see how one would react in certain situations. The final part of this involves sharing personal experiences that demonstrate the 13 Dimensions the State uses as a rubric to judge a candidate's potential.

Each candidate is given a score between 1 and 7 for each exercise. At the end of the day the assessors take the average score and use that as the final score. A score of 5.25 is needed to pass. Elijah was called out second to last and found out he had passed all three sections, and had an average score of 5.5. Hooray!

Walking back to the hotel, Elijah said a prayer to thank our Heavenly Father for assisting him throughout this process. A powerful feeling of love overcame him as he walked, and a humble sense of gratitude filled his being.

This is something we have been praying for since last January. The last two months we have been more diligent and deliberate in asking the Lord to bless Elijah with peace and a clear mind for his OA. The Lord blessed him greatly--as He always does. As Phuc's dad once said, "it is amazing what the Lord will do with your life if you let Him." Now we just have to wait for the security clearance and medical clearance, and then hopefully by next summer we will be moving to D.C. to embark on an adventure in the foreign service. :)

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