Friday, July 2, 2010

My first diplomatic reception

Happy 4th of July, everyone.  The calendar may say July 2, but yesterday was the Embassy's 4th of July reception.  The preparations have been going full force for about the last week or so.  Invitations sent out, duties assigned, and flags hung up.  (Seriously, there were a lot of flags.  There was the one normal giant one in the atrium, two more giant ones hung outside the building, tons of bunting, a Belizean and American flag at each door, more tiny flags than I could actually count, and several people were wearing flag pins as well).

The dress code for this function was probably less formal than many other 4th of July receptions around the world.  Belize formal dres is more casual than in America.  Most of the men were wearing slacks, nice shoes and a button-up shirt.  Some were long-sleeve and some were short-sleeve.  A very few men wore suits, including one seer-sucker.  The Prime Minister and Governer-General both wore the Guyabara shirts that are popular here.  Most of the women wore summer cocktail dresses and heels.  I don't know enough about women's fashion to comment more, but they looked good.

My duty of assignment was to be a 'puller.'  There are two typical duties assigned to officers at functions - the pusher and the puller.  The pusher's job is to greet the people at the front entrance and lead them to the reception line.  The puller's job is to take them from the reception line into the party, so that the reception line can keep moving.  Most of the officers I was working with knew quite a few of the guests, so they would usually take those they knew.  But, I think I pulled my fair share of guests.  I never got fully comfortable with the job, but it was my first time.

The reception line ended after the Governor-General arrived.  (The Governor-General is a Belizean appointed by the Queen to be her representative in Belize and to function as the head of state.  The Prime Minister is the head of government.)  The rest of the evening was spent schmoozing in a typical cocktail party situation.  I met a couple of ministers, the head of the largest TV and radio stations in Belize, a recent Belizean graduate of the US Air Force Academy, a few Brits and locals who I already knew, and a few other people who I don't know who they are.

Since my Mom was in town, she got to attend as well.  While I don't think these types of functions are normally her cup of tea, I think she enjoyed herself.  Seeing all the ceremony is fun, for the first time at least.  When you think about it, how many Americans get to attend diplomatic functions.  While FSOs may soon tire of them, it is, the words of our Vice President, "a big effing deal."

The reception also featured a couple of speeches by the Ambassador and the Governor-General.  The Ambassador told his story of the 4th of July.  He was born in India and came to the United States for school.  He said he was always fascinated by the holiday.  Then, he and his wife got married on the 4th and later his daughter was born on the 4th of July.  I always love hearing the stories of naturalized citizens and how they view American holidays.  The Governor-General talked about how the world celebrated the election of Barack Obama and highlighted some of the many achievements of the Administration.

All in all, it was a fun night.  My back hurt and my feet were sore, but I had fun.  I hope to post a few pictures later, but I just found out my car arrived today, so I should be heading off to get it soon.

(Photos: Embassy set up for the 4th of July reception; Mom and I at the reception; the Ambassador's speech during the reception).

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