"You may have my number, you can take my name/But you’ll never have my heart..."

Last night, I ended the long weekend by extemporaneously heading to see "Skyfall" with KF, JJA, and AR, despite an exhausting sequence of days that encompassed everything I had yet to encounter in my prior visits to D.C. (basically hitting up anything that wasn't a museum or government building under the good graces of JC, JM, and PT). Seeing the antics of James Bond and the MI-6 after revisiting contemplating a career in the field or in the offices of the hubs of U.S. intelligence and security was almost poetic.

In keeping with my initiative to get out of town about once a month, this past weekend I headed to Washington, D.C. Especially since the last time I was in the D.C. area was in February for an interview that concluded miserably, my most recent impressions of the area were that it wasn't a good place for either work or play.

For the most part, my vision of D.C. remains the same. It's very clean, its blocks are long, but there's not much of a soul to be found in the city. It's little more than a well-hewn block of concrete, and the same could be said of many of the people there, whose ambitions tend toward saving the world largely through faith in and action on behalf of the U.S. government.

Working for the State Department, the DoD, the CIA, or any of these agencies is a fine career; after all, these were the workplaces that had once called out to me as someone who was committed to making studying foreign languages--specifically Mandarin and Arabic--into a job. The day might be coming where I am compelled to consider these options again, reasons financial or otherwise. But what has always bothered me about potentially working for the U.S. government is the idea of working in a job where my primary identifier is "American."

How would anyone be able to see me as something else other than an American if my work positions me to be seen by the world by the nature of my nationality? I could't put myself in a position in which I would be forced to see and interact with the world through a strictly American perspective. Moreover, no matter where I'd go in the world, I would be a representative of the United States first and myself second. If the U.S. does something reprehensible, as an employee, I am meant to represent its actions and officially agree with its course. Patriotism, national allegiance, and the like are concepts I theoretically uphold and respect, but the U.S., in its term of international leadership, has done its share of questionable things, especially in the realm of and in the name of national security--things with which I would probably be involved as a language specialist but with which I would not want to be associated. I fear a job with the agencies relevant to me would circumscribe my freedom and desire to see the world with the most global perspective I can attain. 

The trip to D.C., for better or worse, reminded me how the Washington path would have been easily laid out for me. The ladders of professional development are decently clear and well-established. I could have had boundless funding for advancing my Chinese, sustaining my Arabic, beginning Korean, and traveling to the Middle East and Asia. But for now I believe that being uncertain in my current path and position is better than potentially having sacrificed my ability to see the world objectively for a world seen through red, white, and blue-colored glasses.