About Me

Born on a farm in Northeastern China.

Grew up in Shanghai.

Immigrated to the US at 16.

Graduated from UC Berkeley in 2000.

First Career: Online Marketing

Second Career: Foreign Service


03/02/09 — registered for the FSOT (Foreign Service Officer Test)
06/08/09 — took the FSOT
07/01/09 — got the results from my FSOT: passed
07/16/09 — took the critical language test for Mandarin
07/20/09 — submitted my Personal Narrative essays
07/23/09 — got the results from my language test: passed
09/14/09 — passed QEP and invited to OA
11/18/09 — went to DC for the OA: passed
12/16/09 — initial case interview for security clearance
12/30/09 — medical clearance granted
03/08/10 — Top Secret security clearance granted
03/12/10 — got on the Register and offer for May 10th A-100: accepted
03/23/10 — received the official appointment letter
05/03/10 — pack-out started and we moved into a hotel
05/04/10 — moving company came to hauled away all of our stuff
05/08/10 — flew into DC and checked into our apartment
05/10/10 — in-processing at Main State
05/11/10 — A-100 began at FSI
06/07/10 — got our first assignment: Seoul, South Korea
09/07/10 — began Korean language training
02/07/11 — got our 2013 onward assignment: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
03/18/11 — passed Korean test and finished language training
03/30/11 — arrived in Seoul
03/15/13 — departed Seoul
04/26/13 — arrived in Kuala Lumpur
11/10/14 — accepted handshake for 2015 onward assignment: Washington DC
05/05/15 — departed Kuala Lumpur


25 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Congratulation on your new assignment, you have chosen the right path to be a foreign officer. Korea is becoming center of cultures for the Far East. Great Assignment and see you over there.

  2. Hi,

    I have a similar background to you (born in China, was a Chinese citizen for most of my life).

    I was wondering if you had any trouble getting a security clearance because of this fact? I’ve been really worried about this, so if you could email me back, that’d be great! Thanks. :)


  3. Hi there, what a great blog. I’d love to include your posts in a roundup I do. Is there an email address where I can reach you? Alternatively, you may contact me at stroud109 (at) yahoo (dot) com

    Thanks so much!

  4. Hi,

    I’m a former FSO who is writing a story about the best blogs in the Foreign Service and I plan to use yours as one of the best. Please get in touch, so we can coordinate photos. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: A Traveler In The Foreign Service: The Best Foreign Service Blogs, by Dave Seminara. « 3rdculturechildren

  6. Thank you for your blog and many pictures of Korea (the country where I’m from)! While looking at those photos, some of them made me teary eyed and some made me feel hungry lol.
    I am “atypical” candidate like you and your comment in recap is really encouraging.
    I’m considering applying for FSO and have a few questions. May I send you an email?
    Thank you for your time.

  7. Hi, i’m a designer from Singapore, currently i’m working on a brochure design, for a hotel which located in Korea, I wonder may I use your photo for the design of the brochure? We will credit your name in the brochure if we have your permission.

    Your photos of Seoul are really beautiful, you can mail me for more information about the hotel and the brochure.
    my mail address: vicky@flava[dot]sg

    looking forward to your reply, thanks!

    best regards,


  8. Hey,
    I am writing my PNQ’s as we speak. In my application, I put down a level 2 ability to speak mandarin, but no phone test yet. I was wondering if you know whether or not they changed the phone test for after submitting your PNQ’s since you took it.

  9. Curious, if you tested in a Super Critical Language that stems from your cultural background, do you still get the full bonus points and are required to serve in a country that uses that language in one of your first two tours? I am ethnically Asian and speak it well and would love to test in it, but does it cause problems for posting later? (All provided I get admitted to the FS?) Thanks!

    • Yes, if you accept the bonus points, then you are required to serve in a post that the language is used. Whether or not you can serve in a specific post also depends on whether you have any preclusion or can get paneled, but that has nothing to do with your language ability.

      • Thanks! But I guess I’m confused. If you tested in Mandarin, and you used the bonus points, could you have served one of your tours in China? Would you still get the full extra bonus? Thanks!

      • The ability to speak Mandarin doesn’t equal to ability to serve in China. And as far as I know, there’s no such thing as partial bonus points and it has nothing to do with your ethnicity.

  10. I intended to comment here and ask about your camera, but I guess someone beat me to it. Nevertheless, let me just say that your photos are absolutely stunning and your family is beautiful. Thanks for providing inspiration to a hopefully, future FSO.

  11. Señor, lo felicito, tiene usted unas fotografías increíbles, gracias por compartir.
    Si llega usted a venir a México, con mucho gusto lo recibiremos, sólo avísenos.
    Atentamente su Amigo.

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