Book Review: “Passages Through Pakistan: An American Girl’s Journey of Faith”

Growing up overseas, far from extended family and the communities that our parents have known as home, is a complicated way to begin life. There are frustrations. We feel connected both to our “passport country” and to the land (or lands) that we have lived in, always feeling caught between worlds and never feeling that we completely belong or fit anywhere. Yet there are also immense joys. We experience adventure that the kids back home would never dream of. We make friends across the boundaries of language and culture. We eat incredible food. Relationships with family and friends, while challenged by distance and movement, gain a special kind of depth and richness.

Marilyn Gardner, in her autobiography “Passages Through Pakistan: An American Girl’s Journey of Faith,” has captured all of this. She describes her girlhood in Pakistan, growing up as the daughter of American missionaries. She sails in great ships, rides trains from one end of Pakistan to the other to get to boarding school, hops into tongas (horse drawn carriages) to explore the Pakistani community that her parents call home, and ultimately flies back to the U.S. at the end of high school. We watch her grow from a child who easily embraces life between worlds, to a teenager battling insecurities, to a brave young adult, eager to take on the world as she ventures into the unknown.

This book works for me on several levels. First, she paints a vivid and exciting picture of Pakistan in the 1960s and 70s. She has a deep love and appreciation for the country that she called home for a large part of her life, and that passion spills off of every page. We see Pakistan in the news a lot, and not necessarily for good reasons. Gardner describes Pakistan in a way that honors its rich culture, natural beauty, fascinating history, mouthwatering food, and hospitable people. It’s a picture that we would all do well to study before allowing the news to shape our perceptions. Second, she uses that same fine brush and bright palette to describe the joys and struggles that she faced as a child. She writes with courageous honesty, exploring doubt, fear, and feelings of inadequacy in a way that is refreshing to hear from a person of faith. She leaves it all on the field, and invites the reader to weep and laugh with her in equal measure. I was sorry to see it end, and eager to jump into the (as of yet unwritten) sequel to see what kind of an adult this remarkable young person becomes.

I have an unfair advantage on this last point, as Gardner is my Aunt, and I know quite a bit about the passionate, fun, and wise adult that she grows up to be. I have heard many of the stories in this little book before, but it remains a precious reminder of the treasures that come from living between worlds. Both of my parents grew up as Missionary Kids in Pakistan. I spent four years of my childhood there as well. My son, though he doesn’t yet understand it, is beginning his own journey of life in this in-between place. Exploring many cultures and settings. Probably never being exactly the same as the people with whom he finds himself surrounded. I worry sometimes that life as a global tumbleweed will leave him with insecurities. But this book reminds of the rich heritage to which he belongs, both in our biological family, and also in this big, diverse family of global wanderers who we are privileged to call friends and colleagues. This book reminds me that he’ll be okay, just like my Aunt was, and just like I am. Give it a read!

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Regarding Roots…

It’s that time of year where the winds blow strong here on the border, pushing hard on everything. Windows rattle. Trees and plants bend to the earth. Some of the older shrubs, whose roots have dried and withered, lose their hold on the soil and begin rolling across the desert. Tumbleweeds. We see them on the road, in parking lots, in the front yard. Some tiny, and some as big as small cars. Blowing and rolling. Without roots they are disconnected, and go wherever the prevailing wind takes them.

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Sometimes we in the Foreign Service feel like those tumbleweeds. We are never in any one place for more than a few years. Mexico today, Washington tomorrow, Saudi Arabia after that. Even when we do stay put for a little while we find that the cast of characters around us continues to rotate. Nothing ever stays the same way for long. It’s easy to feel rootless and disconnected, like the breeze has taken us.

We were in Michigan for a nice long Christmas vacation, and we had my younger sister come visit us recently. All of this, combined with the relative newness of being a parent, has gotten me thinking about roots. I’ve lived in eleven cities in the last eleven years. K has lived in almost as many. We will live in many more. What sort of existence will this be for our son? Is he doomed to live the life of a tumbleweed, never knowing the feeling of being solidly grounded in the nourishing security of family and community? How can rootless parents teach a child to have roots?

Yet these fears are relieved when I visit places and people that are familiar. I remember that I do have roots. I felt my roots when my sister, fresh off a plane and exhausted, enthusiastically dove into a new board game with me. I felt my roots when I baked the Christmas cookies that my Mom has baked every year since I was a kid, and felt them again when I saw her a week later and she had brought along a large box filled with those same cookies (which tasted better than mine). I felt my roots when I visited the Michigan State campus, and the sight of every building stirred up a different memory. I felt my roots when I walked into the Breslin Center, that temple of basketball where my friends and I screamed our lungs out through many close games.

I feel doubly encouraged when I get the chance to explore K’s roots. I get a sense of those roots when we walk into a room filled with relatives who we haven’t seen for years and pick up the conversation right where we left off. We talk about how disappointing the Lions were this year. We retell old fishing stories (the fish get bigger every year). We sing the old Christmas carols, most of us off key, most of us dropping out after the first or second verse when we forget the words. We listen to and tell stories about how Grandpa J (no longer with us) used to insist on chewing every bite of food exactly 82 times, so every meal with him took hours to complete. Or about that time that Aunt M (still with us) took the turkey out of the oven and to her dismay discovered that it had no breast meat. Turned out she had cooked it upside down.

Somewhere in the midst of this immersion in the sea of family and memory I come to realize what roots really are. They are not simply the physical ties that bind us to a piece of soil. No. True roots are the strands of memory, relationship, and meaning that connect us to a story that is far bigger than ourselves. My son (like his parents) has been born into a network of roots that wind their way through Michigan, New England, Wisconsin, Pakistan, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. It is a network of roots alive with countless songs, and teeming with stories. As long as we live we will work to connect him to those roots. In every building we call home we will put pictures on the walls that evoke that great story. We will tell and retell the chapters of that story (Aunt M with her turkey never gets old). We will connect him to the people who are characters in that story. Our hope is that our little tumbleweed will feel secure in his roots, regardless of where the wind blows him. And as he rolls into new and interesting adventures of his own, he will add strands to the network of roots, carrying the story forward.

In which we say goodbye to a President…

On the night of November 4, 2008 I sat on the tile floor of a hostel in the Dominican Republic and watched the election results come in. I was packed shoulder to shoulder with fellow Peace Corps volunteers. We had all come into the city from our various communities to take a hot shower and watch the climax of what had been a momentous election season. There were about fifty us packed into a room that could comfortably have held twenty (one of those fifty happened to be a beautiful young lady who would soon become my girlfriend, and eventually my wife, but most of you know that story already). We cheered when the election was called for Obama, and we wept as we listened to his victory speech with its call to service. We desired with all of our hearts to answer that call. We had already answered that call, idealistically living in houses without electricity or running water, partnering with people very different from ourselves to make the world a little bit better.

We drank rum, smoked cigars, and stayed awake until sunrise, heady with idealism at the possibilities that this new world could bring. I wrote some of my thoughts the next day.

Tonight I watched as President Obama gave his farewell address, and thought about that young volunteer and his friends, and the world they lived in and the world we now live in. A lot has happened, and a lot looks different. I did not watch tonight’s speech in a crowded hostel, but in a comfortable house on a couch with a dog on my lap. I did watch it with that same beautiful young woman, and we kept an eye on the baby monitor, hoping that the newest addition to our household would let us finish watching the speech without interruption. In 2008 I stayed up all night; tonight I am hoping to stay awake long enough to write my thoughts. Back then I woke up each day knowing that adventure beckoned, and that anything could happen. Now I have a job with a slightly more demanding schedule (interviews start at 8 sharp).

Yes, the viewer of the speech is a bit different, as is the world he lives in. But much of what the President said tonight resonated with me just as strongly as it did back then. And not the partisan stuff. It was the call to civic participation, and for taking our responsibility as citizens seriously. The call to pursue equality for all. The call to maintain dialogue with those who are different from us, regardless of how difficult or disheartening it might become.

I thought about the amazing things I’ve had a front row seat to see during the last eight years. I got to partner with poor Dominican farmers who are working to preserve the forest and river around their community, and succeeding. I got to help turn a ruined urban factory site into a beautiful park that is literally serving as a bridge between communities. I watched as elderly Luddites in Northern Wisconsin figured out ways to bring broadband Internet into their rural communities, to bring back jobs and rekindle a dying economy. Now I have the honor of watching a diverse and brilliant team of my fellow Americans work their tails off every day to adjudicate visas, protecting the security of our country while also reuniting families and growing the economy. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve had the privilege of seeing, knowing, and working with people who are immensely creative and passionately motivated to make the world better through their work and sacrifice. I share Obama’s belief that our country, and the world, is at it’s best when we come together around common goals, focusing on what unites rather than what divides. I believed it then. I believe it now. And I’m not even tired.

My mom called me after the speech, inspired by what she heard, yet discouraged by so much of what we see in our country these days. There is division. There is dissonance. There is ignorance, on both sides of the aisle, regarding who our neighbors are and what they stand for. She asked me what she should do to make things better during these challenging times. I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m sure you the reader have plenty of other ideas (which I’d love to hear about in the comments), but here are some of my thoughts:

  • Put down the smart phone. I need to get better at this myself. There is a whole world of things to see and people to talk with. Reading is good…but sharing and re-sharing articles, or getting into arguments with strangers, seldom did much to improve the world.
  • Get involved with the local discussion. All the positive change I’ve ever seen happen in communities (whether it was in third world countries, big cities, or small towns) started with a group of concerned citizens talking about a problem and figuring out how to act together, in small ways, to make it better. And then things snowballed, and small change became big change. I guarantee you that within two miles of your house there is a group of people (probably local elected officials) who meet regularly to talk about how to fund the public library, or what to do with abandoned building, or how to improve the park this year. I also guarantee you that there are rows of chairs in that room, reserved for members of the public, that usually go unfilled. Get on google. Find the meetings. Show up. Share your opinion. Before you know it you’ll be helping to fix something real. Or you could play candy crush for two hours a day.
  • Get to know your elected officials. They are nice people, even if they belong to that other party. Almost every municipal, county, or state elected official I’ve ever met has been thrilled to spend time sitting with constituents talking (and even disagreeing) about issues. Buy them coffee. Have them over for dinner. Get to know them. You could become one of those people who they call on when they are trying to figure something out. And they might actually take your call when you disagree with them. I’ve seen it happen so many times.
  • Run for office! There are so many non-partisan elections at the neighborhood and town level (especially in rural places) where there is only one candidate on the ballot and where you’d only have to go to a couple of meetings a month. Give it a shot! If you lose you lose, and if you win you get to help build something.
  • Get a job in government. State, local, federal. Yes, there’s a lot of bureaucracy, but it’s amazing how much of the business of making the world better is done by modest, hardworking people in cubicles who are not being paid nearly enough. Public servants rock. Become one!
  • Hang around people who are not like you. This is why social media stinks. We friend people who share our culture, education level, politics…and we end up just looking in the mirror when we think we’re looking at the world. Get out. Make some new friends. Challenge yourself to see the world from someone else’s perspective. If we all did think how good we would be at making things better.

I am sad to see Obama step off the stage, but such is life in this American Democracy. I’m optimistic about the times to come. I continue to be amazed by the work that my friends and family are doing, in big ways and small, all over the world. The starry eyed outlook of that young Peace Corps volunteer sitting on a floor in 2008 may have taken on new forms (nine to five job and all), but the idealism remains. The world can be better. The world will be better. We, my friends, will see to it.

Regarding Airports and Advent…

We flew to Michigan earlier this week. It was our first time on a plane with the baby, and the first time that I can remember ever having travelled by air around the holidays. We flew El Paso to Denver, sat in Denver for about four hours, and then on to Grand Rapids. It was a long layover in Denver and as I looked out at the sun setting over the Rockies and tried to trick J into sleeping amidst the noise and stimulation of the airport terminal I started to think about waiting. 

We had a long time to wait for that plane. Lots of other people were waiting for planes too. Lots of people were facing delays. The restaurants were full of people waiting for food, and workers likely waiting for their shifts to end. The carousels were surrounded by people waiting for luggage. A man with a puppy walked past us, quickly and purposefully, trying to persuade the puppy to wait until they could find a way to get outdoors. I knew that in another part of the airport there would be hundreds of people waiting in arrival areas, eager to hug and kiss their friends and relatives as they got of planes just in time for Christmas. Everyone at an airport is waiting for something.

I thought about the things that we as a family are waiting for. We recently waited for a baby, and now he’s here, people-watching with us in this airport. We are waiting with enthusiasm to see parents, grandparents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends during our time in Michigan, and to reconnect a little bit with them. To learn about the things that they are waiting for in their lives. We are waiting, with some sadness, for our time in Mexico to end in the summer. We are waiting to see what the next chapter is like. We wait with hope, fear, joy, doubt, and every other feeling that humans are capable of. Waiting seems to be a central feature of the human condition.

There is a lot that people wait for. A bus to arrive. Cookies to bake. Test results to arrive. An email or a phone call, that may or may not come. A visa. A home. Peace. We wait for good, beautiful things, just as we we wait for awful, heartbreaking things. We wait, because there is not much else that we can do. Human technology and understanding have come a long way, but we have not been able to completely overcome that obstacle of time that requires us to sit, be patient, and reflect upon that which is to come.

The Christmas season pushes us to embrace this waiting. We watch the decorations come out, and the gifts slowly collect around the foot of the tree. We consider the empty stockings hanging on the fireplace (or in our case on the bannister…no fireplace in our Mexican house), anticipating the tasty goodies that will soon fill them to overflowing. We monitor our text messages to see how close the relatives are to arriving. The refrigerator and pantry fill up with goodies, the makings of a feast. This year I consider my infant son as these things transpire around him, waiting for him to be old enough to understand and share in the joy of the anticipation.

Advent is about waiting. Many of these traditions started to help us to think about the arrival of Jesus. The Jewish people waited for centuries for Messiah to arrive, bringing freedom and fulfillment. Many still wait. We wait now for His second coming; for that day when all wrongs will be put right, all tears will be dried, and death will finally and fully be defeated. We wait for that day, even as we work to bring about peace and justice in the present. We light the candles. We decorate the tree. We wrap the gifts. We cook the food. 
For some people it is a meaningless exercise in the tradition of consumerism. For me, I revel in the spirit of anticipation. The gifts may not provided ultimate fulfillment. The food may give me heartburn. Family may occasionally frustrate me. But the anticipation of good things fosters a spirit of hope and optimism that can be cultivated throughout the year. And what do we need, after all, in times like these if not hope and optimism? Come, Lord Jesus. Teach us hope. Teach us joy. Teach us to be the fulfillment of the hope that others have, when we are able.

Best wishes to you, dear reader, for a Happy Holiday season. We are glad that you have read our blog, and we hope that you continue to come back in 2017 and beyond.

Regarding Marines…

​Marine security guards are a nearly ubiquitous feature of life at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They’ve been connected with the Department of State at least since the battle of Derna in 1805 (inspiration for the line “to the shores of Tripoli…” in the famous Marine Corps hymn) and have been providing us with various security services ever since. We see them at the front entrance as we come and go, and they throw fantastic parties at the house where the detachment lives. This is true at nearly every post in nearly every country.

We here at the Consulate in Juarez were recently able to witness a rare and fascinating occurrence. We did not have a Marine detachment here until about a month ago. Security was handled exclusively by a local guard force. A decision was made somewhere that we should receive Marines, and a lot of people went to work to make it happen. The Gunnery Sergeant (commanding officer of the detachment) arrived about six months ago to get things ready, and in late October the Marines arrived.

The rare occurrence we were privileged to witness was the activation ceremony of the detachment. It’s rare because most of the 200+ posts in the world have had Marine guards for a long time, and have not needed to welcome them. This moment represented the first time in the 150+ year history of the U.S. diplomatic presence in Juarez that they would be guarding our front door.

It was a short and solemn ceremony. A crowd of a few hundred, including Foreign Service Officers, family members, and local staff sat in rows on a Friday afternoon. The Gunnery Sergeant marched in with his men, all of whom stood at attention in the middle of the stage, not smiling, not even moving. We heard a speech of welcome from the Principal Officer at the Consulate, our Consul General. We heard a short speech from another Marine Officer, a higher ranking type who was in town for the occasion. He then solemnly presented a covered flag to the Gunnery Seargent, symbolizing the handing over of command. The flag was then dramatically unfurled, showing us the seal of the Marine Corps. The Gunny turned to his men, and called forward a Lance Corporal, whom he ordered to take up his place at Post One (the security booth at the front door). The Lance Corporal turned and marched toward his post. Their watch had begun. We listened to a recording of the Marine Corps Hymn, and the ceremony was over. 

The Marines celebrated by hosting the first of what will hopefully be many evenings of food, drink, and music at their house, welcoming the whole Consulate community. It was a lot of fun.

Baby’s first Happy Hour at the brand new Marine House in CJ

I’ve got happy memories of Marines from my childhood spent on the Embassy community in Islamabad. The Marines coached little league, and played games with the hoards of little kids at the Embassy pool. I remember them in their immaculate uniforms, carrying the flag at the Fourth of July party. I remember my parents inviting them over at Christmas, knowing that they were far from family during that special time of year. They were great people to get to know, but there was another dynamic coloring the way we looked at them. Only a bit more than a decade earlier that Embassy in Islamabad was torched by a mob. A Marine security guard was killed, along with an Army officer and two Pakistani staffers. The sacrifice that can come with protecting Embassies remained relatively fresh in the mind of the community, and it is the unspoken yet powerful theme that dominates things like activation ceremonies. The work of Embassies and Consulates is important. Unfortunately there are those who are willing to do violence to disrupt that work. But there are others who volunteer to protect the continuity and security of our work, sometimes with their lives.

It’s been neat to watch the detachment arrive in Juarez, and to see them become part of the Consulate community. I’m glad that J will be a part of communities that give him similar memories to mine, and I hope that he will learn to appreciate and support those who are willing to sacrifice so much.  Welcome to Juarez, Marines! We are glad that you’re here.

In which I give Thanks for the silly things…

K and I lost a pregnancy in 2014, and experienced a time of deep sadness. Some days were really hard. We invented a small activity that helped keep us going on the tough days. We called it “5 things.” We would take turns naming off things and people that we were thankful for, until each of us had named five things. It was a simple exercise that brought perspective. We forced ourselves to think about what we were thankful for, even when we didn’t feel particularly thankful for much of anything. Sometimes it helped us feel better. Sometimes it didn’t. But it always helped us to feel closer to each other.

I imagine America must have felt a little bit like that back in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln resurrected the practice of a National Day of Thanksgiving. The Civil War was raging. Hundreds of thousands of Americans had been killed on battlefields all across the country. Every day the newspapers brought the names of more who had fallen. There was no end in sight. I imagine it didn’t feel like there was much to give thanks for. But I also like to think that the exercise of giving thanks forced them to look beyond the oppressive fear in the present, toward something bigger, and grander, and more beautiful. It helped them to pull together, and keep going. That’s why we’ve continued to celebrate it as a nation, regardless of politics or creed, through war, peace, famine, plenty, etc.

K and I have had a wonderful year. There’s a new baby. Our health is good. We love our work, and our friends, and our families, and they seem to love us back. There are challenges, fears, and uncertainties. We hurt for friends and family who are ill, or who are bearing the illness of a loved one. We grieve for lands ravaged by war, and the refugees who are without a home. We ache for the divisions we see in America.

So in the spirit of this holiday, I offer you five things for which I found myself giving thanks this week. They are not the usual things for which one gives thanks, but I found inspiration in them, and perhaps you will as well.

  1. I am thankful for poop-filled diapers. Changing diapers is for me, as for many newly minted parents, a new and not altogether pleasant experience. I won’t go into great detail. I realized today, though, that the presence of poop in the diaper means that the digestive tract is working. The baby is healthy, and growing.20161120_185547
  2.  I am thankful for the giant bull elk that surprised me on a recent weekend trip to New Mexico. It must have been nine feet tall. I was fetching something from the car, not paying much attention, and I looked up and there it was. It made me feel small, and a little bit afraid. The adrenaline rush reminded me of the raw beauty and majesty of the natural world, and of forces that are far beyond my understanding.

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  3. I am thankful for burnt pumpkin pie (though the guests at the potluck we are attending later today might be less thankful). I had never baked a pumpkin pie before tonight, and I foolishly blazed ahead, following some of the directions on the back of the can while improvising the parts I thought less important. I poured too much liquid into the crusts, not anticipating the bubbling, burning, smoking mess that would ensue when I put them in the oven. I am thankful for the reminder that I still have much to learn, and I am thankful for a wife who laughs at my foolishness in lieu of scolding me.20161123_192625
  4. I’m thankful for my ancestor, John Howland, who took a tumble off the back of the Mayflower during a storm in 1620. Myself and my whole family would never have existed had someone not left a rope hanging overboard that allowed John Howland to pull himself in from the surf. I’m thankful for the reminder that small actions (or inactions) can have big consequences, for good or ill, even if we never see them. And I’m thankful for the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special that features Mr. Howland; for reminding me of this story every year.
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  5. I’m thankful for old episodes of the West Wing…still my favorite TV show, despite the datedness and cheesiness of it all. I’m thankful for writers who eloquently and shamelessly praised the virtues of public service, and played a small part in inspiring a whole generation of us to go work in government. I’m thankful that I still find inspiration there, and that my wife still sometimes watches it with me, even though she falls asleep on the couch.a369b95dd5dcdfc4045162e20adb6c28

So there are my five things. They may be silly or trivial, but they are true. They are gifts I have been given, by the grace of God, over which I had no control. Ultimately that is what this holiday is about. Acknowledging that we are who we are and we have what we have because of forces far beyond our own power or comprehension. I wish the happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours, and pray that you may find and appreciate the grace you have been shown, regardless of how silly it may seem.

Regarding what comes next…

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends and relatives regarding what life as a diplomat is going to look like in light of the unexpected results of the election last week. What will be different now that we will be serving President Trump rather than President Obama? The short (and perhaps boring) answer is “not much.”

My colleagues and I will continue to go to work at the Consulate every day, as will our colleagues at Embassies and Consulates in every corner of the world. We’ll continue to walk in past the American flag flying high, past the great seal of the eagle with the words “Epluribus Unum,” past the marine guarding the door, to our desks, where we will each work our tails off to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” as each of us swore to do when we entered the job. The pictures in the lobby of the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State will change, but that has happened before, and it will happen again.

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There is no doubt that as laws and priorities change so too will the way we implement those laws and priorities. The U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez is the biggest Immigrant Visa issuing post in the world, so Immigration Reform would surely change our work. But that is sort of the point of what we do. We, as employees of the federal government, are not (nor should we be) policy makers. You, the American people, choose your leaders. Those leaders make the laws. We are the public servants who implement and apply those laws. Ultimately we serve you, the people.

All of us federal employees certainly have opinions on what we see happening in American politics (I’m happy to share mine with you privately if you are interested), but we can’t let that get in the way of how we do our jobs. We are sworn to defend the constitution, and the constitution says that the President is the head of the Executive branch (therefore our boss). All of us will almost certainly have to implement policies put forth by Presidents for whom we did not vote, and that’s okay. Because ultimately the system that is our democratic republic (laid out in the constitution) matters much more than does our opinion of any single leader. It’s a system that calls for We The People to determine who is in power, and for power to be passed from one leader to the next without a single shot being fired. It’s a system that has held up for 240 years (with a brief break in the 1860s). It’s a system that has been an example to other countries who are hoping to move beyond feudal forms of government where transition does not happen without bloodshed. Think how remarkable it is that we can see power pass between two leaders as radically different as President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama completely peacefully. I hope that the transition from President Obama to President Trump is equally peaceful, as well as for the transition between President Trump and whoever follows him.

The tone was set for us as employees first thing on Wednesday morning in a message from Secretary Kerry, part of which I’ve included below. Our job is to keep on with the work of serving and protecting the interests of the American people in the world. I assure you that we will do it, and do it well, regardless of the circumstances.

“Now that the Presidential election is over and the voters have spoken, I ask you to focus on two imperatives simultaneously. The first is to continue moving ahead with all the activities and projects on which you are currently engaged. The pace of events across the globe does not allow for timeouts. Our goal should be to continue pushing every aspect of our foreign policy forward between now and when the new leadership team takes office.

The second imperative is related to the first: to welcome our incoming colleagues warmly and professionally and to provide them with all the assistance they need to ensure a seamless transition from one administration to the next.

Let us all remember that the value of American democracy is reflected in the ability of our citizens to debate policy openly and choose their leaders freely. That tradition dates back to the very founding of our country and remains an example of immeasurable consequence to people across the globe, many of whom do not enjoy such freedoms. I am proud of the role that the State Department plays in respecting, supporting, and advocating the integrity of our process and in representing abroad the values and interests of the American people.”
-John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State